Ivan Rebroff @ Festival Theatre
8:00pm, Mon 15 Mar 2004
Short Review: Big singy guy sung a bit, and had a chat…
After a gorgeous instrumental opening by four supporting musicians (on the balalaika, “bass” balalaika, “pregnant” balalaika, and some 12 zillion button accordian type of thing), Ivan Rebroff strides onstage wrapped in a bear. Well, a hell of a lot of fur, anyway. The huge fur overcoat was dispensed with almost immediately, but a den of foxes stayed atop Rebroff’s head for the duration of the performance, whether he was roaming the stage or sitting imperiously in his throne.
With overcoat doffed, Rebroff reminded me of the Jolly Green Giant as he repeatedly sang a song & chatted amiably (in decent English) with the audience. The last song before the interval was a unique version of Waltzing Matilda (all the emphasis on the wrong words), then a costume change saw the musicians lead into the second act with a trio of delicate snippets from Nutcracker. Another series of songs/chats, and the performance was over – leaving the audience happy, but quizically looking at their watches.
Throughout, Rebroff constantly sipped (occasionally gulped) wine; and his vocal performance was not really what I was expecting. I reckon only the bottom half of his four-and-a-half octave range got a decent workout, with the closing songs expanding a bit, but losing out in terms of volume. Still, it was an entertaining enough show – and judging by the ticket prices & two capacity crowds, a tidy money-earner for the Festival.