I Can Keep A Secret
Babushka @ Dragonfly Bar + Dining
6:00pm, Sat 3 Mar 2012
Ah, the Dragonfly. It’s a regular lunchtime haunt when I’m unfortunate enough to be working on a Friday, with boozy lunches centred around their stunning Nori chicken, and their evening fare is fantastic too… but, despite the fact they regularly have some DJ sets of interest, I’ve never dragged myself there to see a show. Visual arts displays, yes, but not an actual gig per se.
Turning up on the cusp of “late” was probably not a great idea; Dragonfly was packed, and – with the four women of Babushka (and their male pianist) down the far end of the room – it was a bit of a struggle for me to peer through the fading light and bobbing heads to see the performance.
But you know what? It didn’t matter – because it sounded awesome.
Using the flimsy pretence of sharing their innermost secrets, Babushka – four classically trained sopranos brought together by their common diagnosis of Soprano Identity Crisis Syndrome – belted out some frankly astonishing arrangements of material both contemporary and classical. Opening with a gorgeously layered rendition of Confide In Me, their (unaided) voices filled Dragonfly easily: pure, soaring notes made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end… thrilling stuff! The contemporary cabaret favourite, Glory Box, soon followed, and was no less impressive; I Want To Be Evil also got a wonderful airing.
It’s a gorgeous presentation to behold, with the women all clad in beautiful dresses of primary colours. Laura (green) excelled during the more classically operatic moments of the show; Bethan (blue) stunned with incredibly high notes during Glory Box, and also provided string support on violin; Alicia (red), the musical director for the group, still belted the notes out whilst pregnant; and Michelle (yellow) had no problems matching any of the others in volume or tone. Whilst they all had fantastic solo moments, it was the moments where their voices coalesced – such as during their namesake Babooshka – that really impressed.
Between songs, the girls maintain the secrecy theme by imparting their own little tales laced with humour, including some of the Secret Rules of Soprano: “no sex before auditions,” they were taught, “but blowjobs are okay – they open up the throat.” Michelle lets slip details of her “tasteful” photo shoots, Alicia quietly drops snippets about her pregnancy, and even their pianist gets in on the act: “last night I finally slept with a woman,” he confides, “…Definitely gay.”
And whilst the humorous asides were effective and crowd-pleasing (the latex-snapping Silence of the Lambs touch was giggle-worthy, too), they aren’t going to be the lingering memories of Babushka. Instead, I’m going to be clinging onto that wonderful sense of theatricality, a Dragonfly that was bubbling with positivity, a killer closing song in White Wedding, and those stunning voices. Oh my, those voices.