Pop Culture Vulture

Pop Culture Vulture Cabaret Festival 2024Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Johanna Allen. Dunstan Playhouse. 19 Jun 2024


Johanna Allen utilises the metaphor of the bin chicken in describing her means of picking out cultural morsels of songs from every era that sustained her, for this show. Then segues that into the bird of song metaphor, illustrating fabulous women of song who are an inspiration, roaming from Ella Fitzgerald and on (yay for a dash of Puccini to balance out the 80s pop stuff).

It’s like being an artist, she notes, this scrapping and greatness at once.


No scrapping for this song-bird, at all. She’s sharp. On point. Holds her audience with absolute ease. Equally sharp and mesmerisingly gifted is accompanist and Musical Director Mark Simeon Ferguson. A formidable creative team indeed.


Allen is cheeky as she takes on Kylie Minogue then a Disney fave with a backwards looking “did I just do Disney?” comment. This is the fun first half of the show, including a phones-in-the-air moment for the snog song some in the audience may not have ever snogged to.


Roars from the blues to that Les Miserables ballad, proving without doubt Sarah Brightman can’t sing. Allen gets to you with this torch song, mid-show, like no one else will. Truth, hurt and hope are so powerfully, honestly rendered. This second half of the show is deeper. It gets into you.


Allen’s voice is capable of spanning and mixing operatic and pop forms in a single song, something one would rarely find (unless you happened to be Freddie Mercury).


From here it’s all France, Spain to Hammerstein with a very sweet cheeky take on Patti LuPone whose show just happened to start bang on at the end of Allens’. Cheeky, but with much respect.


One has not seen Allen on stage for a long time. This show was one huge treat of a catch up.


David O’Brien


When: 19 Jun

Where: Dunstan Playhouse

Bookings: Closed