Reviews

The Last 5 Years

marika-theatre-reviews-bps“Marika Aubrey displays great vocal and acting chops. She brings wonderful comic zest to songs about performing with a second-rate provincial theatre company in Ohio and the trials of auditioning, yet also manages to capture Cathy’s lack of confidence…Growing in power as it unfolds, it is a poignant, bittersweet musical with understated but genuine emotional heft”.

Jo Litson The Sunday Telegraph

laugh_lowres“… well balanced and entertaining, with a wonderful performance from Aubrey. Jason Robert Brown’s score and lyrics were Broadway flavoured with affecting sentiments. This suited the considerable talents of Aubrey, who with a beautifully sweet, true voice realized all of the technical aspects of the music. However Aubrey also excelled in portraying the emotional content of the songs and the nuances of mood. You believed this woman was raw and hurting. Aubrey travelled from laughter in ‘A Summer in Ohio’ and her audition piece ‘Climbing Uphill/When You Come Home’, to despair in ‘Still Hurting’ keeping the audience with her all the way. This was particularly evident in the skilful rendition of ‘I’m a part of that”. Aubrey gave a standout performance”.

Felicity Burke Aussietheatre.com

“…an attractive and well-tuned production that allows actor-singers Marika Aubrey and Rob Mills ample room to shine”.

Jason Blake The Sydney Morning Herald

Last5Years7“Both performers are nonetheless skilled musicians who handle Brown’s challenging score with aplomb…Aubrey brings down the house with the show’s most conventional showstopper, ‘A Summer In Ohio’…”

Pierce Wilcox Time Out Magazine

mariika-image-reviews“The terrific musical theatre talents of Marika Aubrey and Rob Mills ensure truthful acting and impressive singing throughout, enlivening the show’s blend of humanity, drama and wit”.

Neil Litchfield Stage Whispers

“Marika Aubrey is stupendously talented. She’s a stunning singer, and extremely magnetic actor and award-winning Cabaret performer – a tender and beautiful Cathy and she can sure sell a song!”

Augusta Supple

“Marika Aubrey as Cathy is brilliant, giving a wonderfully sung, subtly acted performance…This intimate production showcases two terrific performers playing characters we grow to know and really feel for”

Lynne Lancaster Arts Hub Australia

Marika Aubrey’s performance of Cathy would satisfy even a diehard JRB fan. Her vocals were strong but controlled, sassy but spotlessly pure. She had the audience in fits of laughter during the number ‘Climbing Uphill’, close to tears in ‘Still Hurting’ and uncomfortably squashed between the two emotions during ‘I’m a Part of That’.”

Rose Hodson Australian Stage

“…with Marika Aubrey and Rob Mills aboard, backed by a five-piece band, the journey is an enjoyable and moving one.
Both performers have easy charm and voices to suit. Aubrey gets a cracker of a song in I Can Do Better Than That…Recommended”.

Elissa Blake The Sydney Morning Herald

REDHEAD


SUNDAYTELEREVIEW

Jo Litson The Sunday Telegraph

“…the performance (including the arrangements by fellow Aussie Geoffrey Castles) was without a flaw! For a full hour Ms. Aubrey kept everyone enthralled with her sparkling stories, exciting movement, and most of all, her fantastic Broadway belt (she actually did a Merman song without microphone)…With just the right balance of information and song, the show could very nearly called “cabaret perfection.” Several times I had to restrain myself from shouting “Brava” (OK, I did break the reviewer’s code of silence once, but I couldn’t help it)…I truly hope that Ms. Aubrey will return soon!”

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Stu Hamstra Cabaret Hotline Online

“…the New York cabaret community will hopefully get to see and hear a lot more of this redhead, perhaps on her next go-round. Referring to herself as a ‘sensual ginger ninja’, Marika Aubrey is a powerhouse of vocal artistry… She’s a gutsy gal with a big voice…”

Sandi Durell Cabaret Scenes

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2010

“Among performers to watch in the future are the promising Marika Aubrey whose vocal power and attack in Schwartz’s mighty Meadowlark was akin to being pulled on to an emotional rollercoaster, then hanging on for the sheer excitement, danger and thrill”

Bryce Hallett Sydney Morning Herald

“…the truly sparkling star of the show would surely be Marika Aubrey and her rendition of “Meadowlark”. MC Todd McKenney conceded he tainted the moment by describing Aubrey’s performance as “singing the crap out of it” – But he was right”.

Edwina Starck The Independent Weekly

“Cabaret divas Donna McKechnie and Caroline O’Connor were magnificent, while stunning redhead Marika Aubrey blew everyone away with her powerful rendition of “Meadowlark”. Aubrey was a true standout and from this song alone her show is a must-see”.

Melissa Phillips News Review Messenger

“…As promised by Todd McKenney, red-headed Marika Aubrey did indeed “sing the crap” out of ‘Meadowlark’ – Stephen Schwartz’s most requested show-tune…Aubrey is blessed with one mighty voice, and a confidence that belies her newcomer status”.

Sean Riley Aussietheatre.com

“She has a beautiful voice and is sure to delight”

Barry Lenny Glam Adelaide

“New York stage legend Donna McKechnie – without a doubt a woman deserving the title of legend – the powerfully-talented Caroline O’Connor and the perfect Marika Aubrey took the stage in a way that show cabaret’s love of big performances, the sideways glance and the love of stories will always be a mainstay.”

Russell Emmerson Adelaide Now

CAUTION: Aggressive Birds

“…Aubrey is an absolute firecracker on stage – she has a powerful voice and an excellent stage presence that makes her one of the most exciting performers to come onto the cabaret scene in some time.
Spending an hour watching Marika Aubrey perform is like spending an hour in bed with your dream lover – it’s explosive, mindblowing and more than fulfilling.
…… the audience is completely captured by Aubrey and a voice that hardly needs the microphone, her voice is so strong”

Troy Dodds Aussietheatre.com

Last Of The Red Hot Mamas

“In Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Marika Aubrey takes us on a celebration of the life of Ukrainian-American vaudeville superstar Sophie Tucker, while drawing her own personal connections to the icon and the country they both left behind. Not knowing much about either women prior to this evening, the story had the chance to get confusing, but Aubrey pulled it all together flawlessly ensuring that the audience didn’t miss a beat and felt the full effect of the overlap of two lives.

This is both a great education in the life of Sophie Tucker and a great education in the resume of Aubrey’s talents. Marika Aubrey maintains a solid stage presence and has the disposition of someone who entirely adores their profession and is ‘made for the stage’. She is a truly gifted woman, coupling lovely, strong vocals with a natural acting talent and merging the two with a charming, sassy sense of humour. Her comparisons between the two lives are thought provoking and her love for her Ukrainian heritage shines brightly. The fellow Ukrainians in the audience were certainly thrilled.

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This was the first ever performance of Last of the Red Hot Mamas, which is information only revealed at the end of the show. I would have loved to have known this fact beforehand to fully appreciate how well it all came together for opening night, but I suppose that is kudos to the quality of this performance as both Aubrey and her band were so at ease one would have imagined they’d done this show a hundred times before.

The backing band for the evening, The Five Kings of Syncopation, led by Musical Director Geoffrey Castles was supreme both musically and visually and the perfect compliment to Aubrey’s performance. The only grinding qualm I took from Last of the Red Hot Mama’s was a lackluster use of costuming for Aubrey herself. A role like this had the potential for such a great use of fashion but fell short and I found Aubrey’s costumes startling scrappy and overall styling quite underwhelming.

Nonetheless, Marika Aubrey is a beautiful, entertaining force and her latest show was a definite crowd pleaser. She made me want to know more about Sophie Tucker and for that reason alone Aubrey should be very pleased with herself”.

Elisha McGill The AU Review

“The life of Sophie Tucker is not the most familiar story. Marika Aubrey, in The Last of the Red Hot Mamas, masterfully revives the music, the comedy and the life of the stentorian performer in a personal and powerful cabaret contribution.

The ‘Last of the Red Hot Mamas’ began her life as Sonya Kalish in a small village in Ukraine. Her family adopted the name Abuza upon immigration to America and after marrying she became Sonya Tuck. With three different names before her 18th birthday, she finally settled on Sophie Tucker and, with this name, she became one of the most popular performers of the early 20th century.

The Last of the Red Hot Mamas, with largely unfamiliar subject matter and songs, had the potential to be a confusing and labourious cabaret experience. Thankfully Aubrey’s show well and truly exceeded all expectations. The combination of a formidable voice and stellar acting drew the audience forever closer, and is a major draw card.

Aside from that voice, Audrey’s writing is the show’s greatest attribute. Not only does The Last of the Red Hot Mamas delve into the speakeasies of yesteryear, but Aubrey also reveals a real and emotional ancestral connection; a paralleling life with the 1920s sensation. Aubrey dances effortlessly between a number of characters, and this aspect of the performance is truly engaging.

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The music, with Geoffrey Castles leading the polished Five Kings of Syncopation, is brilliant. Aubrey’s comic performance of ‘Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, but Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love’ is a crowd highlight, and her audience interaction greatly enhances the experience.

In the large part, the design aspects of The Last of the Red Hot Mamas were of a very high quality. The use of space, lighting, props and sound were all well conceived. The costumes however were a little underwhelming. The twenties were a period of great glamour but we never reached great heights (the band however, all looked quite swish).

Aubrey’s candid patter is appreciated, particularly the insight into her creative process. A big thank you to Kate Ceberano and Google for facilitating the creation of Marika Aubrey’s The Last of the Red Hot Mamas”.

Rowan James Aussie Theatre

“In Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Sydney performer Marika Aubrey celebrates the life and career of Ukrainian-born singer Sophie Tucker who found fame in the US as a sultry vaudeville starlet.

The audience is transported to a 1920s speakeasy while Aubrey tells the tales of Tucker’s life, juxtaposed with anecdotes from her own Ukrainian ancestry.

Aubrey successfully overlaps the two through song and touching personal memoirs.

From the opening jazz number Aubrey’s strong and sensual voice has the audience swooning. The redhead knows how to work a crowd and channels the oversexed and outspoken star spectacularly.

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The backing band, The Five Kings of Syncopation led by Musical Director Geoffrey Castles, was superb but the costumes and set lacked pizzazz, given the genre.

Overall, a very polished production”.

Emma Altschwager Adelaide Now

“Thanks to Marika Aubrey’s ample vocal chops and terrific comic timing, Sophie now sizzles back onto our cabaret stages, backed by smokin’ three-piece jazz combo, Bev Kennedy, Jamie Castrisos and Trent Prees…Marika Aubrey’s cabaret goes way beyond a tribute to the performer with intersecting personal and family journeys based on shared Ukranian heritage … Ultimately, the show-maker is Marika’s energy and her vocal versatility to deliver on a wide range of songs from a gentle, sentimental folk song, to gems from Sophie Tucker’s repertoire, including raunchy comic songs and the blues…” 

Last of the Red Hot Mamas

Neil Litchfield Stage Whispers

“…Aubrey has a big, clear singing voice, which she uses well…She also has a big personality and commands the small space at the Hayes Theatre Co with ease. Her patter between the numbers is lively and she develops a warm rapport with the audience… it’s an entertaining show by an assured, engaging performer…If you want to catch it, you’ll need to get cracking as there’s just one show left”. 

Last of the Red Hot Mamas

Jo Litson Scene and Heard

“Aubrey commands this intimate room effortlessly…Aubrey makes Broadway Blues smoulder beautifully, backed by Bev Kennedy on piano, Jamie Castrisos (drums) and Trent Prees (double bass). Her comic performance of Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, (but Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love) is a standout…Last of the Red Hot Mamas is a fine showcase for Aubrey and in the vaudeville tradition, it leaves you wanting more”.

Last of the Red Hot Mamas

Jason Blake Eight Nights A Week

“This is a simply terrific show!

Aubrey has crafted a wonderful piece of music theatre, skilfully, weaving her own Ukrainian family history with the story of the vaudeville legend Sophie Tucker…
What made the narrative so strong was the remarkable use of detail used to convey the political and social tone of the times…
A statuesque redhead, clad in cream satin Aubrey vamped her audience, wisely singling out men for her particular attention. They loved it!…

Aubrey has a fabulous voice, impeccable diction and the musical arrangements are wonderful…
Aubrey is versatility itself. She can belt out a big number (tunefully), swivel syncopated dance moves and emotionally move the audience with heartfelt and beautifully articulated, regretful blues…
The full house was attentive and grew more and more vociferous in their appreciation of this delightful package.
Aubrey and Kennedy could take this marvellous concoction anywhere in the worldwide festival/cabaret scene and hold their heads high. A class act!”

Claire Condry Australian Stage

Georgia Stitt In Concert

“Marika Aubrey’s gorgeous rendition of ‘I Get To Show You The Ocean’ had me in tears… In Stitt’s ‘Big Wings’, Aubrey lets loose her big ol’ country belt voice that further demonstrated her ability to sell a strong character”

Xanthe Coward XS Entertainment

Time Is A Traveller

“…joined by the talented Marika Aubrey…they’ll have you in stitches…”

Allison Hilbig theatrepeople.com.au

MIRACLE CITY

THE hotly anticipated second coming of the Australian musical Miracle City is upon us and, praise the Lord, it more than lives up to expectations…

The songs, which happen as part of the TV show, are beautifully written. Ranging from the rousingly uplifting to the comical and hauntingly moving, Yap’s excellent cast absolutely nails them.

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At the show’s emotional heart, Best gives a stunning performance as a woman whose life is suddenly undone, sliding from glitzy, superficial glamour to raw, heartbreaking vulnerability. Esther Hannaford is also quietly affecting as recovering addict Bonnie-Mae.

Her singing of I’ll Hold On is exquisite, and she unleashes powerhouse vocals with Marika Aubrey and Josie Lane as the trio of Citadel Singers.

Jo Litson The Sunday Telegraph

Restaging of Miracle City is a towering achievement for Hayes Theatre Company…

WRITTEN by Max Lambert and Nick Enright, Miracle City was a defining moment for Sydney musical theatre when it premiered at Sydney Theatre Company in 1996.

Widely praised and rapturously reviewed, it seemed destined for Very Big Things.

They never happened: Enright got busy writing The Boy From Oz and Lambert composing for the Sydney Olympics Games and Miracle City was put aside. Then Enright died in 2003 and it seemed likely it would never see the light of day again.

So when it was announced Hayes Theatre Company would be staging Miracle City again, a ripple of excitement followed. How would it fare almost 20 years later?

Very well, it seems.

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Miracle City feels fresh, heartbreaking and genuinely surprising…

Director Darren Yap has assembled an astonishing cast, which also includes the talented trio of Marika Aubrey, Josie Lane and Esther Hannaford as the show’s soul-saving Citadel Choir.

They do a superb job of bringing Lambert’s gospel-inspired score to life and to hear their voices swell up in the tiny surrounds of the Hayes Theatre is spine-tingling at times…”

Polly Simons The Daily Telegraph

Miracle City is the stuff of legends in the Australian musical theatre community. A show that was staged just once at Sydney Theatre Company in 1996, it played to rapturous audiences… and was never seen again. Stories of this amazing musical have persisted, and one of the songs in particular has persisted, popping up in cabarets and benefits ever since (it was even sung at Hats Off! earlier this year), but the show and hope of further development was shelved when Nick Enright, who wrote the book and lyrics, passed away.

But something like a miracle happened, and Hayes Theatre Co has managed to bring it back to us with all the appropriate blessings. Composer Max Lambert is musical director, and Darren Yap, who worked on a workshop of the show with Enright in 2007, is here to direct, incorporating changes he and Enright made during WAAPA workshop. It’s a labour of love, produced and staged and performed with love, and it is love that brings this show to vivid life.

Esther Hannaford, Blazey Best, Marika Aubrey and Josie Lane. Image by Kurt Sneddon

It is superb…

On their broadcast, they’re joined by Billy Trengrove (Jason Kos), stagehand and right-hand man, he hopes, to Ricky.  And they’re backed by their Citadel singers – women from the community who seek joy in Christ, who sing for their life and their family. Eulella (Marika Aubrey) is a mother raising children who has no time for anyone’s nonsense; she’s the centre of the trio, calm and authoritative. Charlene (Josie Lane) is bubbly, excited about life and God and beauty school. And then there’s Bonnie Mae (Esther Hannaford), a recovering addict who lost her child to the county and wants so badly to get her back and to have something to believe in. She joined the group by calling in as a congregant watching the show, desperate for prayer and salvation…

Hannaford, Lane and Aubrey understand how their performances affect each other’s; they’re a perfectly calibrated trio. Lane’s chipper youthfulness and flamboyant devotion provides important contextual contrast to Hannaford’s tremulous songbird Bonnie-Mae. It’s a key clue in telling is who these women are when they are supporting characters without as much time to be explored; Lane is saved, or thinks she is, and Bonnie-Mae isn’t so sure. It makes their later scenes so much more successful. Aubrey keeps them connected as two sides of the same coin by being the one holding the coin firm. Aubrey’s Eulella delivers her line with a fresh assurance that tells us, clearly, that she’s earned everyone’s trust.  There’s nothing wavering about her, and nothing needlessly cheerful either; she’s possibly the only person in the entire show, except for Sizemore, that has perfectly come to terms with who she is.

Josie Lane, Marika Aubrey, Esther Hannaford. Image by Kurt Sneddon

 

 

 

Miracle City is a triumph of Australian musical theatre and this production at the Hayes, when it swells to its conclusion, touches the sublime.

Cassie Tongue Aussie Theatre

Miracle City review: Polish extends beyond the teeth in Luckiest Productions show…

Miracle City
Hayes Theatre, October 22
★★★★

These days it could be set in Sydney’s Hills district, but back when Max Lambert (music, concept) and Nick Enright (book, lyrics) created Miracle City in the mid-’90s it had to be set in America’s heartland. Somewhere like Tennessee, where bearing arms goes hand in hand with loving Jesus, and praising the Lord need not impede fleecing the gullible flock…

…Director Darren Yap (for Luckiest Productions) has assembled an ideal cast, completed by Cameron Holmes (young Ricky-Bob Truswell, who wants to be either preacher or fighter pilot), Esther Hannaford, Josie Lane and Marika Aubrey (the storming Citadel Singers), and Jason Kos as the TV stage manager. It is Best who must rise to the challenge of becoming the dramatic pivot, and she does so brilliantly and bravely.

Lambert leads the backing band himself, and such experts as Kelley Abbey (choreography), Michael Hankin (the simple set), Roger Kirk (costumes) and Hugh Hamilton (lighting) ensure the polish extends beyond the teeth. This born-again piece of musical theatre is dazzlingly entertaining, and many will find its ending surprisingly raw and achingly sad.

John Shand The Sydney Morning Herald