Velvet Rewired

Creator/Director: Craig Ilott. Musical Director/Soundtrack: Joe Accaria. The Studio, Sydney Opera House. 22 December, 2022 to 12 February, 2023.

Reviewed : December 22, 2022*

Photo : Daniel Boud

Disco magic is back! The glitter balls! The sequins! The misty smoke! The shine, the sparkle, the sexy shimmer – and the SOUND! Joe Accaria calls it Disco Delirium – the pulse and groove that swept the world in the 1980s – and Velvet Rewired brings it back with a beat that’s brassy, throbbing and definitely, delightfully delirious.

Flashy 80s fashion and classic disco songs see a down-hearted Country Mike (Tom Sharah) back in the place he once found joy. Can Velvet heal his broken heart? Read his damaged mind? Help him find that place free of judgment or discrimination that he found once before?

Photo : Daniel Boud

They certainly can! And they find fantastic ways to do it. But first and foremost they do it with Disco. Above the stage, Accaria operates the pulsing soundtrack while adding his own swinging, syncopated percussion. Surrounded by flashing lights and glitter ball glitters, his sequined headphones pulsate to the disco beats that resound around him.

And on stage, Sasha Lee Saunders and Jacinta Gulisano as the Sirens sing, shimmer and shake as they introduce The Diva, the much-loved, multi-talented, Marcia Hines. Hines’ magic is stunning and the roar from the audience follows her down the catwalk as she welcomes the sad young man back to her velvety realm of wild freedom, glitzy glamour and amazing acrobatics.

Photo : Daniel Boud

Led by Hula Boy, Craig Reid, who is also the resident director of the Australian tour, aerialists Beau Sargent and Harley Timmermans and roller-skating acrobats Sven and Jan bring breathtaking feats to re-wire the downcast young man – and thrill a pleasure-seeking audience.

Reid works world winning wonder with his multiple hoops – but mixes this with the naïve joy of a child revelling in its achievements. And his multiple lightning costume changes always amaze!

Sargent and Timmermans work alone at first, Sargent twisting himself precariously through a hoop high above the catwalk, Timmermans suspended by his hands on a rope that rises as he rotates himself into unimaginable positions. Later they work in unison on the ropes, legs and arms coiled around each other as they wind and spin.

Photo : Daniel Boud

On a taut circular stage, Sven whirls Jan faster and faster, high and low, her hair flying or she herself flying from a brace around his neck.

It’s always intriguing to see and hear the reactions of audiences to feats such as these – and no wonder they are amazed. Speed and danger are the ultimate thrill-makers and these performers know just how to thrill.

With The Diva, the dancers and the DJ, they bring Mike back into their world of music and dance, thrills and excitement, glitter and gaiety! The stuff that is the essence of cabaret and circus and, in fact, disco itself. Welcome Velvet! Sydney needs you!

First published in Stage Whispers magazine.

*Opening performance