Adelaide Cabaret Festival Review: Marika Aubrey "Last of the Red Hot Mamas" - The Banquet Room (19.06.13)

Marika Aubrey

In Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Marika Aubrey takes us on a celebration of the life of Ukrainian-American vaudeville superstar Sophie Tucker, while drawing her own personal connections to the icon and the country they both left behind. Not knowing much about either women prior to this evening, the story had the chance to get confusing, but Aubrey pulled it all together flawlessly ensuring that the audience didn’t miss a beat and felt the full effect of the overlap of two lives.

This is both a great education in the life of Sophie Tucker and a great education in the resume of Aubrey’s talents. Marika Aubrey maintains a solid stage presence and has the disposition of someone who entirely adores their profession and is ‘made for the stage’. She is a truly gifted woman, coupling lovely, strong vocals with a natural acting talent and merging the two with a charming, sassy sense of humour. Her comparisons between the two lives are thought provoking and her love for her Ukrainian heritage shines brightly. The fellow Ukrainians in the audience were certainly thrilled.

This was the first ever performance of Last of the Red Hot Mamas, which is information only revealed at the end of the show. I would have loved to have known this fact beforehand to fully appreciate how well it all came together for opening night, but I suppose that is kudos to the quality of this performance as both Aubrey and her band were so at ease one would have imagined they’d done this show a hundred times before.

The backing band for the evening, The Five Kings of Syncopation, led by Musical Director Geoffrey Castles was supreme both musically and visually and the perfect compliment to Aubrey’s performance. The only grinding qualm I took from Last of the Red Hot Mama’s was a lackluster use of costuming for Aubrey herself. A role like this had the potential for such a great use of fashion but fell short and I found Aubrey’s costumes startling scrappy and overall styling quite underwhelming.

Nonetheless, Marika Aubrey is a beautiful, entertaining force and her latest show was a definite crowd pleaser. She made me want to know more about Sophie Tucker and for that reason alone Aubrey should be very pleased with herself.