Watercooler Talent & The Harbour Agency. Dunstan Playhouse – Adelaide Festival Centre. 12 Aug 2023
The show was just about to start and you could cut the tension with a knife! Many audience members – in eager anticipation - donned colourful Hans-like costumes topped with Tyrolean hats. But Hans had to wait a wee moment. People were on the edge of their seats, clustered in groups around mobile phones, thrilled by the sudden death penalty shot round of the Matildas vs France quarter-final game. Then a cheer rang through the theatre; people stood up and hugged with joy and relief. This was the best possible mood for Hans to continue the celebrations with an energetic and highly entertaining disco party.
Hans is an Adelaide cabaret stalwart, and he has broken through the Fringe barrier, this weekend playing two sold-out nights in the big tent. The theatre was full of Hansophiles accumulated from a 25-year career. And Hans has something to celebrate besides the Matildas. About a year ago, he drifted off the stage during a show on a cruise ship in the Aegean and fell four metres into the orchestra pit thereby fracturing five vertebrae and a foot. Aside from singing a couple of songs in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Gala and receiving the festival’s Icon Award, this is his comeback show which will tour SA and Queensland (he may need a safety net) after this weekend.
Hans is Hans and Hans is great fun. He’s a strange brew of a transvestite-looking act with self-parody, stand-up comic, terrific audience rapport, self-promotion and chutzpah - all backed by multiple musical talents.
He wears a girdle to protect his broken and healing spine, but it tops off mid-chest and creates an unflattering misshape highlighted by his trademark show-all skin-tight jumpsuits. Best to consult the costume department.
Definitely a disco theme with whacky psychedelic and constantly whizzing graphic lighting coeval with the ‘80s pop covers with terrific new disco-ised arrangements. Hans is helped by a couple of dancers in costumes from the last century who double as chorus and also sing admirable duets during Hans’s costumes changes. The choreography is not special though the bass guitarist and drummer seemed an orchestra.
The disco fever was interspersed with tales of Hans’s tribulations suitably told with nautically inspired songs, eg: Rock The Boat, sound and lights, as well as lovely banter with the audience. Anticipating his audience anticipating some Hans favourites, he indeed brings out the accordion, tickles the piano, and conducts a few singalongs including Edelweiss. Hans works an audience with gusto, and he picks on a lucky six whom he refers to for the duration of the whole show - they eventually seem like old friends. Two lucky men got pulled on stage, then off into the wings presumably for a bit of coaching. They reemerged in tutus and were compelled to dance in the most wildly successful audience participation schtick I have ever seen! That says a lot for Hans’s camaraderie and for creating a safe, yet still highly volatile situation.
The show’s energy constantly increases, culminating in a crescendo of dance, disco and balloons. You have to hail Hans as unstoppable. There is a familiarity that breeds mutual admiration. He’s self-labelled, “the Taylor Swift of the 5AA audience.” He loves that audience and they love him. I wish I could be in north Queensland when he is unleashed there with all his flamboyance.
When: Touring 16 Aug to 2 Dec
Where: Various Locations around Australia