Thursday 17 September 2015

Cougar Morrison, RAWWR! review - Melbourne Fringe

New Orleans native, Cougar Morrison debuts his cabaret show RAWWR! at Melbourne Fringe in which he recounts stories of beauty, love, gender and modernity to some re-imagined classic songs.

There is a huge variety to the songs and the style in which Morrison performs them. While “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” has become a staple of the cabaret scene and generally not that exciting to watch or hear, Morrison’s rendition is perfectly suited to him and he manages to make it something quite personal and ultimately, his own.

However, the highlight of the evening is the mash up of “Dream A Little Dream” and “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. It was an experience I’ve rarely had with cabaret where I was just enveloped by the performance and everything around me disappeared. The musical arrangement of this piece is expertly delivered and works perfectly with Morrison’s voice.

Between songs, Morrison shares some personal moments in his life from New Orleans, from his dead-beat boyfriend to the sense of loneliness once a relationship ends to his developing self-acceptance.  Unfortunately, this is where I struggled to remain connected to the show. I found the humour in these anecdotes didn’t quite hit the mark and the delivery was not always effective in creating the right mood for the song to follow. More time on developing the comic style and pace of these narratives would put this aspect of the show on par with the extremely impressive voice talent Morrison possesses.

Morrison is supported on stage by two muscled back up dancers whose costumes are just as revealing and androgynous as his. They subtly enhance Morrison’s own self-confessed “unusual appearance” and add a level of vulnerability and fragility to him.  The costume changes, including some brilliant hats, are fun, sexy and imaginative. While some of the choreography is not as smooth and fluid as it should be, they play the part of the sexy eye candy well.

Cougar Morrison’s RAWWR! is bound to warrant your attention with the artist's strong stage presence and an amazing voice that can take on any song. Ultimately, RAWWR! Is an enjoyable Melbourne Fringe show that deals with sexuality and contemporary life with a classic-songs twist.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 20 September | 10pm
Tickets: $20 Full

* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 17 September

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