‘Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by November 18, 2015

‘Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens’ is an off-the-planet book published in 2004, based on original ideas by four University of Kent students in 1997. The students, Johanna Allitt and Simon Curtis wrote the basic storyline (who else other than a bunch of students could have thought up the cast characters’ names?) with the naughty lyrics penned by Charlotte Mann and Michael Fidler.

The camp, stage adaptation became a classic, adult musical three years later with the music being written by Jonathan Croose and Robin Forrest. It opened in London, but only gained its cult status on becoming a fill-in show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

This joint Blak Yak Theatre and Phoenix Theatre Inc. presentation has a selection of cabaret acts when the doors open at 7.30, with ‘curtain up’ on the main two-hour, fun production at 8.00 pm in the Memorial Hall Theatre, 435 Cannington Street, Hamilton Hill nightly until Saturday 5th December.

There will be an awesome midnight show on Saturday 28th November, with prizes for the best sci-fi costume! There is some coarse language and plenty of racy double-entendres.

 

Most of the action takes place around the cabaret style, table seating. There is a catwalk reaching out from the stage to a central pole-dancing pole. The cast skilfully worked the floor, connecting brilliantly with the audience. It was not long before the punters were tapping along with the catchy tunes.

I was shown to my seat by the beautiful, and incredibly colourful dance captain and hostess (Rachel McCallum) – she showed me a trick or two – but do not tell my wife! The pre-show cabaret was worth the ticket price alone, and well worth getting there early to see.

I ordered a snack and a drink from a smiling hostess (Tay Howard) from their very reasonably priced Merkindice – sorry merchandise.

 

        After a warm rousing welcome to Saucy Jack’s Night Club, from the barman and Master of Ceremonies, Mitch Maypole (James Hynson), the cabaret began. It started with blues saxophonist, Sammy ‘Sax offender’ (Lee Wilson) and Jenny Tall (Kate Lloyd, returning to the Phoenix alive – she often plays a Zombie) a tap dancer who chases moonbeams. Then came professional belly dancer, Fatima Queef (Christie Strauss) who brought Bollywood to Phoenix; followed by Misty Falls (Thérèse Cruise) who was FANtastic.

       As the cabaret finished, the snarling, blood-sucking misogynist, Jack De’Ath (Tom Hutton, WAAPA trained with a vast number of musicals to his name) the owner of Saucy Jack’s Cabaret Bar appeared, the beautiful girls fled in fear, he was not well liked.

       It is not long before poor Vulva Savannah (Sherryl Spencer – who has previously starred in Shakespeare and opera) is found murdered; stabbed with a sling back, high-heeled shoe. Cocktail waitress at Saucy Jack’s, Booby Shevalle (Josh Towns, who recently excelled in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’) and the cabaret girls want to escape from Jack’s cruel treatment, and start their own club. Psychoanalyst Dr Willy von Whackoff (Stuart Porter) gives them guidance.

      Suddenly the doors fly open, and through the mist enter the gorgeous Space Vixen. The Vixen are training men for sex and introducing the clitoris to planets where has yet to be discovered. Leader of the lesbian Vixens, Jubilee Climax (Joanna Tyler) has an astonishing, smooth yet powerful, vocal range. Busty Space Vixen, Bunny Lingus (Nicquelle Rhodes – choreographer, and new Mum) and Space Vixen, Anna Labia (Thérèse Cruise) say ‘that those that don’t appreciate glitter are oppressed’.

      Intergalactic plastic smuggler, Chesty Prospects (Sarsi Grace) is the queen of plastic and leather; she tries to exert her power against Jack.

     There is a flashback to Jack’s days as a magician in a lowdown bar. Will Jack’s past catch up with him?

 

It has been said that this show is like ‘Cheers meets Red Dwarf meets Rocky Horror’. Like the cinema’s ‘Carry on’ films, the show is brash and sexy but not vulgar, appearing more lewd than it really is. As you will gather the language is a little coarse, but never embarrassing. The fabulous studded and colourful costumes with magnificent glitter boots, combined with the revealing and beautiful bodies, but no sleaze or nudity. Magnificent costume design, construction and sourcing by Lynda Stubbs, assisted by Hannah Radford who was in turn aided by backstage dressers, Rebecca Myers and Julie Zajer to give us numerous stunning costumes. A huge amount of work.

With powerful delivery, clear enunciation and every note filled with emotion, every singer was capable of being a solo cabaret act. Many of the cast are WAAPA or Murdoch Theatre trained, and it shows in the confidence and quality of the overall production. Each cast member proved to be incredibly talented, with their script giving them their 10 minutes of fame. Cailin O’Neil and Sherryl Spencer were the talented pit, backing singers.

A couple of years ago, Lorna Mackie for her directorial debut gave us ‘Reefer Madness’, a similar musical which was nominated for a number of prestigious Finley Awards. Now, she is the director and musical director of this magnificent show.

The sound operator was Shelly Miller, and sound mixer Mike McAllan (was also production manager). Not often are there two techs in charge of the sound, but the complexity of the show, headsets, effects etc. meant they both were working non-stop. On a gantry above the whole area, in his lighting box, was the ever-reliable Alex Coutts-Smith operating his complex lighting design. In the final death scene, Alex’s lighting gave the audience a stunning new experience.

Often the stage manager simply moves a couple of chairs and opens the curtains, poor Bec Alosi and her assistant Emma Coyne never stopped for breath with buckets of effects and a large cast to control.

For many of the actors, this show was a first step into musical production, first burlesque, but you would never guess, no one showed nerves – they just put heart and soul into every number. The orchestration, mellifluous singing and Nicquelle Rhode’s energetic choreography make for a fast-paced, energy packed show something well above average.

With the abundance of laughs, ignore the off-putting title; this is a great show that all adults will love.