Cabaret star Ash Flanders returned to the stage for his latest show Ash Flanders is Nothing. Back at the Brunswick Ballroom after his side-splitting stint in the Ballroom's Opening Gala, Ash made his grand entrance down the stage's staircase, garnering laughs from the audience with each step.
Launching into the show with a heartfelt rendition of I Have Nothing, Ash's vocal abilities were on full display that night. Covering off family dramas and moments from his and his partners' life, Ash's humour is raw and too relatable - which is probably why most of the audience couldn't hold back their laughter (and at time, tears). Complete with the perfect comedic timing, references and re-enactments from The Neverending Story, moments of inflection, and cabaret-style covers, a better question to ask would be what didn't this show have?
Before we knew it, the show was at its end, and the multi award winning writer / performer / comedian / wearer of many hats had the audience cheering and looking forward to his next efforts. Safe to say, you're in for a roller coaster of emotions in Ash's latest one man show. Blending comedy, storytelling, singing and tragedy together made for an interesting performance - and one that had us feeling incredibly introspective at its conclusion. Ash Flanders is Nothing is on for two nights only - 1 July and 8 July.
Head to the Brunswick Ballroom's website for tickets and more info.
Final show on 8 July 2021
Back from the dead, Dracula's Resurrection Tour slays
Dracula's theatre is back with a new and unique experience for their Resurrection Tour in Melbourne at Crown Casino. Held in The Palms; a venue as glamorous as the Dracula's cast, the Resurrection tour brought back many of the (in)famous crew in full swing. After Dracula's Melbourne venue unfortunately closed their doors back in 2017, it was fantastic to see the iconic theatre group back at it again. The burlesque/cabaret spooktacular was delivered in two parts to an audience unprepared for what they were about to see - especially those seated in the 'splash zone'.
From towel tricks to human statues, epic power ballads to roller-blading aerialists, this show had it all. Acrobatic duo Synergy's aerodynamic feats had the audience in awe, while the When I Was A Sperm song had the crowd in stitches. With a great soundtrack to sing and dance along to, the audience enjoyed hits from Led Zeppelin, INXS, Portishead, My Chemical Romance, The Rolling Stones and plenty more. For many, a highlight of the night was easily the puppet rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody with a full felt band.
If you are looking for a night out in Melbourne, take a little walk on the wild side and embrace the weird and wonderful world that Dracula's has to offer. Your talented hosts for the night, Onyx, Viper and Spine promise they won't bite (much). Whether you're a die-hard fan, fresh meat, or just plain curious, make sure you don't miss out on the Resurrection Tour, which is running in Melbourne until the 30th May. Grab your tickets here.
Grab your tickets now.
It's not very common in today's climate for a new venue to open up in Melbourne. That's where the Brunswick Ballroom comes in; the newly renovated venue taking the place of the Spotted Mallard in the old Metropolis House on Sydney Road. With incredible refurbishments made to its sweeping staircases, plush red curtains, and its stained glass domes, the Ballroom is set to become our city's next big venue for gigs, comedy and cabaret shows. With a sell out weekend of opening shows, we made our way to the new venue to attend their Opening Gala, a celebration for the venue's revival.
Upon entry, you'll see that the venue sticks to its historic roots - staying true to the traditional fit outs that you would've found back in the building's heyday. Transported back in time, you'll find yourself admiring every feature; down to every last bit of timber trim. The venue's foyer is host to a series of photographs from A COOL WORLD, A David Parker photographic retrospective of Melbourne music in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The exhibition features some incredible shots of music legends Elton John, AC/DC, Molly Meldrum, Skyhooks, and Michael Gudinski from David Parker - an icon who has cemented himself in Australian arts and culture. While waiting for the Gala to begin, we found ourselves studying each photograph in great detail - amazed at how well Parker had captured the essence of each subject so well.
Hosted by the talented Eddie Perfect and Margot Tanjutco, the Opening Gala takes off with a bang, with the duo starting us off with a cabaret-style song, setting the theme for the night. The duo welcome to the stage the incredibly brilliant artists that complete this night; Mama Alto, Bert LaBonté, Jess Hitchcock, Ash Flanders, Vidya Makan and Jude Perl. Each artist flexed their gifts effortlessly, amazing the audience, and at times, having us shake with laughter. With a perfect mix of music, cabaret and comedy, the gala was a showcase of what the Ballroom plans to offer us in the future.
For many, the venue's opening marked the return of the live music and entertainment industry to our culture-rich city. After the crazy year we've all had, it was quite emotional to see the live show that these artists, promoters, and industry-movers had put on for the new venue and its (soon to be returning) patrons. As upcoming events approach, it's fantastic to see that the Brunswick Ballroom will be hosting a variety of shows for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, as well as the Brunswick Music Festival. We're keen to see what else this incredible new venue will have to offer. This beautiful space cannot be missed out on - check out their website to see what the Brunswick Ballroom has coming up soon!
Photo: Nicole Cleary
Going off the notion that a circus is the greatest show on Earth, Cirque du Soleil presented Kurios to Melbourne with a troupe of 47 talented performers under the Grand Chapiteau at Flemington Racecourse. The cabinet of curiosities theme continued to spread Cirque du Soleil's message to invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world. A magnificent and whimsical story line set in a steampunk universe, the clock strikes 11:11 as the magical tale begins, and the outlandish characters pull into the station and pour out onto the stage.
What happens under the Big Top can only be seen to be believed. The two hour show has everything you'd expect from a circus, mixed with a range of situations you never expected to see in your entire life. A strongman throws his acrobatic partner back and forth in the air, effortlessly throwing and catching her entire body as she twists and turns. A lady rides past you upside down, pedaling in the aerial space, and an invisible circus (with its own invisible lion) manages to entertain the crowd with the assistance of a dramatic clown. A dramatic chair balancing act to reach a chandelier makes for an entertaining dinner party. A clown barks at a grammar-phone, and a pilot balances on a series of stacked cylinders in a variety of daring configurations.
Act II ramps up with trampolinists leaping and diving around like fish in water, with the performers reaching heights that no ordinary person could. A clown goes on a date with an unsuspecting female member of the audience; who is serenaded by a bird, a T-Rex and a cat! Muscular acrobats soar through the air in a synchronised dance, and a yo-yo master captivates the audience with his skills. A highlight of act two was a hand puppetry performance deserving of a film festival award, simply based on the emotions felt by such a hilarious and heart-warming performance. As the show comes to a close, a range of acrobats delivered a myriad of dances, pyramids and somersaults around the stage. Launching one of the acrobats 4-people high, the act will certainly stick in your mind for years to come.
Cirque du Soleil's Kurios delivers an incredibly immersive experience with imaginative props, costumes and talented performers. Part circus, part way of life, let yourself fall down the rabbit hole and book your tickets today. Prepare for the unexpected - you will not be disappointed.
Disclaimer: Due to recent events, Cirque du Soleil is hoping to reschedule all future Melbourne performances. Current ticket holders are advised to hold onto their tickets and contact their original point of purchase.
Floating down a river will now be be one of the most relaxing, albeit competitive, activities we've had the joy of attending. The Inflatable Regatta has returned to Melbourne for yet another year; with 2020's edition being held on both the Yarra and the Maribyrnong River. With Melbourne's crazy weather never disappointing (and unfortunately cancelling the Yarra event), we took a drive down to the Footscray Sailing Club, for a day on the Maribyrnong River like no other.
After the pair of us jumped in an inflatable raft, we took off from the Sailing Club and began to work out a game plan. Working out a rowing pattern was half the fun of the day, and provided most of the laughs - which also seemed the case for most people on the river. Floating down the river, inflatable rafts could be seen as far as the eye could see. Passing couples in matching costumes, floating picnics, and makeshift raft parties, it was clear that everyone was taking to the river in their own way.
Disembarking after a lazy 1.5 hour paddle, the party continued on at Grimes Reserve, where there was a lawn party, complete with a bar and plenty of food trucks waiting. Grabbing a spritz and a toastie each, we settled down on the lawn to a well deserved meal, and to listen to local band Surprise Chef - who dished up some smooth vibes. Continuing on the stage was Karate Boogaloo and DJ Joey Lightbulb, who ran through some water-themed tracks.
Whether you're up for impressing someone with your sweet rowing skills, spending some quality time with the fam, or wanting to have a proper sesh on the river with some friends, the Inflatable Regatta honestly has it all. The Inflatable Regatta will be back next year for another run. Make sure you keep an eye on their website so you can snatch up some tickets and get ready for a day like no other.
Making its way to Australia for the first time was the Big Bounce - the largest touring inflatable event in the entire world! Hosted at Flemington Racecourse, the massive inflatables are one of a kind, and have been selling out sessions like crazy. Offering sessions for both families, and adults only, the Big Bounce has been a hit worldwide with both kids and kids at heart.
Big Bounce is split up into three main parts; the World's Biggest Jumping Castle, the Giant, and Air Space. All three sections are just as fun as the last, and offer a little something for everyone. The World's Biggest Jumping Castle is Guinness certified as being literally the world's biggest, so you know from the get-go that you're in for a treat. Running 300 metres long, the Giant is one of the craziest obstacle courses you'll encounter, and will have you jumping, climbing and crawling through it. Finally, take it easy at Air Space, which features a massive slide, ball pits and an inflatable maze.
We attended the adults only sessions one night, to embrace our inner-child. Running from 6-9pm, we started our evening on the World's Biggest Jumping Castle. As easily one of the coolest events we've been to, the massive castle was truly a work of art. With a DJ booth, climbing frames, basketball hoops, and even a chill out area for some downtime, there was something to keep you occupied at every second. Throughout our time in the castle, the MC invites everyone to play games and dance along to the massive hits being blasted from the speakers. Before we know it, our time is up - we're all partied out, and ready for the next set of inflatables.
Making our way to the Giant, we gear ourselves up for an intense trial of the fittest. Taking off from the finish line, we ducked, dived and (in some cases) fell across the obstacles. For those that find themselves beat by the Giant, there's a halfway point to jump off at. Wanting to chill out for the rest of the evening, we made our way to Air Space - starting at a maze, and making our way to the ballpits. For the cherry on top, there's a massive inflatable slide to race your friends down. With burlap sacks to sit yourself on, we had a massive dose of nostalgia - thinking back to the old multi-lane slides at the Melbourne Show.
Chances are that you'll work up a bit of a sweat while at the Big Bounce. Thankfully, there was plenty of food trucks and a bar available - which will make all your bouncing around worth it. Carb yourself up, because you'll be burning through them quickly enough!
The Big Bounce is currently making its way around Australia. Given the success it had in Melbourne, we're hoping to see it again soon! Keep an eye on their website to see when it's coming to a city near you.
The National Gallery of Victoria's latest exhibit features the work of Brian Donnelly, AKA KAWS; the famed New York artist known for his character work and designs. Showcasing the artist's emotionally-driven pieces, the exhibition looks at his work over the past few decades.
With his distinct style that mixes both commercial and traditional art techniques, KAWS' exhibit features just over 100 pieces - with a variety of his initial graffiti work, pop-culture themes, and sculptures. Despite his unique style being jam-packed with cultural icons such as the Simpsons, the Peanuts, and even the Michelin Man, there is definitely a sense of emotion; hope, loneliness and love. KAWS Companion series was a main highlight for us, and we felt ourselves deeply moved by his incredibly simple, yet detailed sculptures.
The exhibit also features an interactive component for kids (and the kids at heart), where you can immerse yourselves in KAWS' art. Film a video, draw your own character, or sit down at a table and get your stickers on. Either way, you'll be able to take home a bit of your own art with you.
The NGV will be hosting KAWS' work until 13 April 2020. With pieces that are nothing short of the wow factor, it's an exhibit not to be missed. Head on over to NGV's website for tickets and more info.
Melbourne's premier French festival So Frenchy So Chic once again returned, to celebrate all thing French culture; with an impressive lineup of music, food and wine. Taking in a plethora of sights, sounds and smells, So Frenchy So Chic brings a little bit of France to you.
Hosted at Werribee Park, with the iconic mansion in the background, SFSC is part music festival, part picnic in the park - equating to the perfect day. So with picnic rug and some snacks in hand, we set ourselves down in some prime real estate (AKA the shade) for the beautiful sunny day ahead.
So Frenchy So Chic invites you to bring the whole family, and is welcoming to all ages. For kids, there was face painting, pétanque, and even flower crown making classes. If you were feeling peckish, you could treat yourself to some raclette (as we did), for the perfect marriage of melted cheese and potatoes. Pray to the cheesy gods, as it’s practically heaven on a plate. For those wanting to embrace a cheese platter or charcuterie, pre-ordered hampers from Melbourne's very own Milk The Cow, Bar Margaux and Hotel Gitan were available for pick up. Combined with some crusty bread, and a variety of wines available from the bars, and you had yourself the perfect lunch!
Opening the stage was Senegal born Tété, whose delicate blend of soul and folk were an invigorating start to the day. As an artist who started off busking on the streets of Paris, his music still stays true to his roots, and had crowds clapping and dancing along. Playing songs off his new album Fauthentique, Tété's smooth vocals and relaxed vibes put everyone in a good mood.
French cover band Nouvelle Vague was up next, with their original jazz-inspired takes on new wave and alternative classics from bands such as Joy Division and Violent Femmes. As the brainchild of producers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, this is not the band's first time at SFSC - and it probably won't be the last. With a range of covers that had everyone singing along, Nouvelle Vague ticked everyone’s boxes. Some of our favourites were Love Will Tear Us Apart and I Wanna Be Sedated - both with Nouvelle Vague's own spin on them.
Gracing the stage with her presence was folk-pop musician Lou Doillon; an artist with an impressive back catalogue, and equally impressive dance moves. Known to some as the daughter of Jane Birkin, Doillon's trademark husky voice is flawless, charming and soulful. Opening her set with a guitar-heavy Burn, Doillon's music was given a new, grungier life on stage. From song to song, she brings out her own guitar to play along, and really gets into the grittiness of it all. Telling the audience 'If you find a good man, make sure you never let him go', she launches into Good Man, later following up with Too Much, an anthem for all the people who are a little too intense. Before we know it, her set is finished - and all we know is that we can't wait to see her again.
Disco-pop queen Corine gets the party started and the audience jumping along from the opening notes of her set. Backed by a band in matching tracksuits, the charismatic Corine walks onto the stage dressed head to toe in gold. Her hair is huge, her heels high, and her stage presence is undeniable. Corine has taken European audiences by storm, and its easy to see why, with the instant hits she has. Tracks Il fait chaud and Pourquoi pourquoi are easily some of our favourites, and are catchy as anything. Throughout the entire set, Corine displays an unbeatable energy; with flashy dance moves that are mirrored by the audience. This is Corine's first time in Australia, but we’d love to see her back.
Continuing the party and closing the stage for the night was Philippe Cohen Solal, one third of the eletronic trio Gotan Project. Playing a DJ set with a variety of drum and bass, mash-ups, and dance infusions, Solal's set was the perfect way to wind down after a big day. With the crowd swaying along to his music, it really had everyone in a great mood. We then left So Frenchy So Chic that evening feeling refreshed, and as though we'd soaked up all the French culture we could possibly get. We look forward to what the festival has in store for next year, and can't wait to see which artists hit our shores next!
Lollies and Christmas are obviously a match made in heaven. So when Sugar Republic’s latest opened a new Christmas themed pop-up experience, we knew we had to go check it out. Opening at the old MacRobertson Chocolate Factory in Fitzroy, Christmasland is home to 10 different themed rooms, all just asking for you to immerse yourselves in them.
In true Sugar Republic style, photos are more than encouraged - it’s practically an Instagrammer’s drea. Walking through the tinsel-draped entrance, you'll find yourself in a pink tree forest, sliding into a pit of marshmallows, or even at a scratch and sniff wall. Spin a wheel to find out if you're naughty or nice, and get some amazing snaps in front of some incredibly designed wall patterns. Sample some treats at the candy bar, and dive right in to the ball pit, or even a snow globe.
Of course it’s not Christmas without Santa - who is more than happy to be part of your photos. If you’re still craving something sweet, head on over to their milkshake bar, which has plenty of lolly flavours to choose from. We treated ourselves to a couple milkshakes - one Cherry Ripe, the other banana - and had some serious nostalgia vibes.
Christmasland really took us back to the magic of Christmas, and the excitement we had when we were kids. The pop-up really is a great activity for all; whether you're on a date, or taking to family out for some holiday fun. Christmasland is only on until 23 December and sessions are selling out fast, so head over to their site to book your tickets now!
Whether you're a cat owner, a breeder, or even if you just really want to pet a cat, the Cat Lovers Show is the perfect place for you! Held at the Royal Exhibition Building over the last weekend of November, this year's show was bigger and better than before.
With heaps of vendors, samples to pick up, and competitions to enter, there really was no shortage of things to do at the show. Cat-centric businesses from all over were to be found in every corner of the building - happy for you to browse their wares, or even take home some samples for your feline friend. With promotions galore, there was heaps of reasons for you to take home a new pet water fountain, or even a state of the art self-cleaning litter box!
Throughout the weekend, several stages in the building were home to guest presentations and demonstrations. We stopped by the Royal Canin stage to watch a presentation from Dr Katrina Warren, as well as a keynote from Bondi Vet Dr Chris Brown on big cat and house cat instincts. On the Black Hawk stage was a range of cats and their owners showcasing their talents - each act more impressive than the next.
Upstairs in the convention centre was breed showcases, as well as cat rescue and adoption organisations. With plenty of cats in foster care needing homes, it was great to see cat rescues raising awareness, as well as hopefully re-homing some cats!
Completing the weekend's show was a mini food truck festival, free face-painting, and cat advice panels. All in all, we had a rather pawsome time at the Cat Lovers Show with our fellow crazy cat people, and hope to be back at next year's!
Party Beyond was held over the weekend in collaboration with Due West Arts Festival; offering party-goers the chance to party the night away at one of the all-time favourite nostalgic venues - Scienceworks and the Planetarium. Open all night, our team explored the exhibits, soaked in the live music and witnessed history under the big dome.
Entering the venue, the admissions desk has Nuestro Planeta with DAWS, Chanel and Zeneth Altrow spinning the decks from start to end. As we began our journey through time and space, we made the most of visiting Scienceworks and did exactly what you'd imagine - exploring Think Ahead, Beyond Perception and Sportsworks. Learning all about technology, space and the future, many flocked to Sportsworks to test their skills and compete against their friends in healthy competition.
As you walk around, it's clear to see there is entertainment in every corner of the venue. From the beats in Think Ahead from SHOUSE, to Mike Gurrieri, DJ Manchild and Rara Zulu outside, the vibe is one big party. On the Sportsworks Balcony, MAI with bubble machine in tow proclaims 'We came here for school excursions, now we come here to party'. Each time we visited an exhibit, we found a new artist and something interesting to see or do. With Memphis LK performing at Ground Up, to Sui Zhen's stellar spectacle at Beyond Perception, time stood still as we soaked in all there was to offer.
For us, the highlight of the night was seeing BATTS and her collaboration with the Planetarium. It was an incredible experience not to be missed. Witnessing a performance inside the Planetarium was unbelievable, and to have BATTS perform live songs from her debut album The Grand Tour with visuals created for the event was next level. The set syncronised with the themes of the album, taking you on the journey of Voyager 1. If it wasn't obvious enough from the NASA high-tops and galaxy print outfit, this was a chance to see BATTS in a world of her own.
Party Beyond was a chance for people to come together in the name of art and science, and to make a party of it. We loved every second.
Catch the unique blend of visiting the galleries to see the work of Dutch artist M. C. Escher and renowned Japanese design studio nendo combine artforms in the celebration of optical illusion and challenging space and perception.
Currently on at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the exhibit features 160 prints and drawings spanning Escher’s full career from 1916-1969. Design studio nendo manage to create a space worthy of inspiration from Escher, offering an exciting and unique immersive experience that runs throughout the exhibit.
On from December 2018 to the 7th April 2019, we encourage all who appreciate unique art and those looking to venture out in Melbourne to check out what is sure to be a once-off chance to see two art worlds meet and collide beautifully.
Escher X nendo - Between Two Worlds will run until 7 April 2019. Tickets available here.
Sugar Republic is back and better than ever. Take the escalators up to level six of Bourke Street Myer, and you’ll find yourself in a sugar wonderland.
From a fruit swing, to a giant birthday cake and a bubblegum lounge room, the installations are nothing short of amazing. Highlights for us included the giant sprinkles ball pit, the neon wall, and the Skittles wall. Get your Instagram at the ready - Sugar Republic is one of the most photogenic places you’ll visit.
Throughout the rooms, you’ll be able to help yourself to all sorts of sugary goodness - all thanks to the lovely staff with vending trays. Other little samples are available on the way, including Iced Vovos and Halo Top ice cream.
Sugar Republic is open to the public from 10 February to 20 May.
Royal Exhibition Building activity is blossoming with the return of the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS), presented by Lawn Solutions Australia between March 27 – 31, 2019. With the show being in its 24th year, the MIFGS is easily the largest horticultural event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Drawing in crowds both local and from overseas, the show’s booming crowds, lively atmosphere, and over 200 vendors was proof of this.
MEL Live headed down to the show to have a look at everything it had to offer. Featuring landscape and floristry demonstrations across the Carlton Gardens, presentations were inspiring to both amateur and professional gardening enthusiasts. Vendors of new gardening tech and plants (of course!) were spread out across the grounds, showcasing some amazing new developments, as well as rare and on-trend plants, and some phenomenal sculptures.
Inside the Royal Exhibition Building were incredible floral installations, both across landscapes and sculpture. An incredible runway of floral dresses and wedding arbours from floristry students was laid out across one of the building’s wings. To say every installation was breathtaking and surreal is an understatement. Vendors such as Seedlip (the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit) mixed up the night, offering free sampling to attendees.
The show was capped off with live music, performances, and a plethora of food choices. We definitely had to take in a minute to take in our surroundings; listening to the live band, while enjoying some Prosecco. Stilt-walkers, jugglers, and fire twirlers provided entertainment for kids, making the show perfect for families.
By the end of our night at the show, we left with many thoughts; 1) we were inspired, 2) we wanted bigger gardens, and 3) we wanted to sign up with the Melbourne Flower School to learn some amazing skills. As we headed off with four different types of pothos between us, we hoped that next year’s show would be just as good, if not better.
Amassing over half a million attendees all over the world (and counting), art collective Random International’s Rain Room now has its first home in the Southern Hemisphere right here in Melbourne. Previously showing at New York’s MoMa and the Barbican in London, Rain Room is an immersive art exhibit like no other.
Presented by ACMI and Jackalope, Rain Room boasts 100 square metres of continuous rainfall - with the added perk that you won’t get soaked through. Rigged with what we can only imagine is hundreds of motion sensors, the experience allows you to stand under falling rain, while also being protected from it. The installation is itself an incredible piece of technology, showcasing just how much the line between art and science can be blurred.
We were lucky enough to be invited down to the installation one night, to experience Rain Room firsthand. After a brief history of the exhibit and the minds behind it, the group is split into two. What may seem like a small group is necessary, as we found that too many people would just take away from the experience too much. Once under the rain, you’ll find yourself taking some of the most Instagram-worthy shots, all thanks to some very dramatic lighting.
You’ll find the Rain Room at the Jackalope Pavilion in St Kilda; a structure built solely for the installation. The venue is to be used for future pieces presented by Random International, so keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming works. Rain Room is only on until the end of January 2020, and is constantly booking out, so make sure you get your tickets locked in soon.