FORGET COUGARS – THIS SNOW LEOPARD IS QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE
Boomers Behaving Badly
Written by & starring Jane Keller
with Michael Nicholas Williams on the Piano
Directed by KC Kelly
at St James Theatre 1st Floor Gallery, Wellington
28 May 2010
[1hr 30min, incl. interval]
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman, 31 May 2010
originally published in The Dominion Post
Having become somewhat of a musical icon around Wellington, Jane Keller can now draw an audience that would be the envy of many performers.
Yet it is not surprising given the highly talented and esteemed performer that Keller is. Trained in classical singing, which adds much to her vocal prowess, her forte has developed into musical theatre. However, she doesn't reprise songs from well-known Broadway musical but off-beat cabaret numbers that have catchy tunes, though not always easy to sing, and telling lyrics that range from the hilarious to the poignant and profound.
Keller is also not averse to putting her own life story on the line through her songs and witty repartee, a middle- aged woman facing the trials and tribulations of lost youth.
In her current show, Boomers Behaving Badly, she focuses on the baby-boomers, those born in the 1950s and where they are at now and what they are up to.
She discovered that one minute she was graduating from high school and the next becoming perilously close to 60 - yet so too were all her school friends. What had happened in the intervening years then became the basis of her show.
Initially, there are the hilarious numbers about school and boyfriends, then the more poignant numbers about lost love and broken relationships; Keller showing her extraordinary versatility in being able to have the audience rolling about laughing then transfixed by the haunting lyrics of the next song.
While 40-something women looking for young men are well known as cougars, Keller likes to think of her age group as snow leopards looking for a cub, and finding one in the audience she proceeds to involve them in a hilarious routine that brought the house down. Male baby-boomers don't get off lightly either - Boomer Bastards, she calls them, and with a wonderful bracket of three songs, sings each as an ode to their inadequacies.
There is also a bracket of French songs from a time fondly remembered in Paris and some dedicated to the need of friends. The range of songs that Keller uses to exemplify her themes is quite amazing and her research into finding the right song for the right moment is extensive. But it is not just her material that makes her shows special but her overall performance in putting the songs across.
Natural and relaxed, she is able to work her audience from the first note to the last, yet she also has style and pizzazz and, for a mature baby boomer, is sexy and sassy as well.
Accompanied by Carey McDonald on piano and Gary McFadden on guitar, the only downside to this show was that it was a oncer. Hopefully, Keller will return with it, as the show deserves its own season, in a more suitable venue, rather than just another one-off.
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