Adelaide Fringe 2014
The opening musical number is an explosion of colours, feathers, fedoras, and choreography that sets the scene. The plot takes inspiration from iconic Roaring 20s and gangster-style films and musicals, including Chicago, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Godfather, and Scarface—the end result is something akin to a How to Host a Murder game where several plots are interwoven with bad puns and weak gags. The mystery of the missing photographs is the main plot, aided by several other questions including the identity of the new barman at the Cabana Club, the ‘taking care of’ Louie the Louse, a rival gang’s snitch, and the mysterious cleaner who appears at the most inconvenient of times singing lustily the old favourites from Italy.
John Martin and Clint Mullins, who played Al Cabana and Sal Cabana, respectively, were the stars of the show keeping in character and giving flawless performances. The other cast members gave somewhat affected performances to varying degrees, which was at times tedious; however, this was forgotten in the following scene. Some of the musical numbers had modern arrangements that undid the 1920s mood but the overall direction and choreography was successful. The costumes were magnificent as was the stage decoration, and the lighting highlighted the ambiance of the Cabana Club. The live band (drummer, violinist and pianist) never missed a note or beat and added to the authenticity of the setting.
While most of the plots and mysteries had a satisfying conclusion the play ended rather abruptly and in disarray with inexplicable violence and character revelations. Although the rousing grand finale song is still stuck in my head I still have questions about some of the subplots and characters. A few too many stereotypes and not enough information for an adequate conclusion.
Speakeasy: An Extravagangster is a family-friendly, entertaining show that dazzles and captures the opulence and luxury of a speakeasy club from a time when gangsters owned a town and women ran the show. A light-hearted comedy for lovers of period musicals and frivolous entertainment.