Wednesday June 15
There is a moment half way through this show when a really talented woman on the stage singing a lounge version Marilyn Mansons The Dope Show at the top of her lungs while throwing pills at her own mouth from arms length. It’s not the sort of thing you get to see very often. It’s the sort of thing I wish Adelaide had a more regular venue for. It is why I love the cabaret festival.
The lights go down and Molly Pope appears from the back of the room, looking like she’s stepped off the set of Mad Men. Beehive hair-do, 1966 dress and old school suitcase and desperately searching for the spotlight. It’s a nice touch as that is what the show is about. Molly has arrived in the big apple and longs for the dizzy heights of stardom.
She starts with Live Till I Die by famous by Frank Sinatra, a great song about reaching for your goals. Immediately the entire room is grabbed by the huge brassy voice on fantastically realised on stage personae of this 60’s go getter, with a dream in her head and a song in her heart. The inclusion of Nick Gilders 1978 semi-hit Hot Child In The City flies over the recognition of much of the audience, one of my favourite songs of that era I am thrilled by it’s appearance. Wether you know it or not, it is a great song and Pope’s smouldering take on it leaves us in no doubt she is a ‘Hot child in the city, running wild and looking pretty’. She soon finds life in the city can be tough and through a fantastic medley of Pick A Pocket or Two (from the musical Oliver), the Pet Shop Boys Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of money) and I Can’t Give You Anything But Love. Takes us on this journey with a lot of humour and pathos. Molly’s fortunes change when she is romanced by a Broadway producer and the doomed romance is told through Dancing Queen, I need U Tonite and Lovefool.
Throughout she uses props and clever staging to hold the audience spellbound to her story. There are regular knowing references to breaking the period tone. A favourite being her miming dialling an old phone and then telling the person she talks that she should text her later.
Nat King Coles 1964 song The Rules of the Road is next and remarkably still relevant all these decades later. Miss Pope briefly becomes a Jukebox Hero before the downward spiral is wonderfully illustrated with Amy Winehouse’s I Heard Love Is Blind and the afore mentioned Dope Show.
Pope tells her story, with excellent comic timing, style and wit and a voice as big as the great outdoors. Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over the Sea is gorgeous and followed by Liza Minnelli’s Meantime from 1964.
She breaks character for the first time to thank her crew, and the Cabaret festival (“for making me feel more famous than I have in my whole life”). A special mention must be made of her pianist Kenny Mellman, who apart from Pope’s show had been performing his Our Own Hit Parade as well running up six shows in three days.
She sits on a stool to perform her final number and it is an amazing and hilarious version of the All American Heroes track Gives You Hell. With every tilt of her head, every sneer on her lips, every lyric delivered with an ever broadening smile, we are left in no doubt exactly how much ‘Hell’ she is wishing us.
I hope that Introducing Molly Pope is the start of a beautiful and long relationship.
- Live Til I Die
Hot Child in the City
Pick a Pocket or Two
With plenty of money and you
Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love
I Need U Tonite
Never Let Me Go
The Rules of the Road
I heard love is blind
The Dope Show
In the Aeroplane over the Sea
Gives You Hell