The Midsumma Festival is back in full swing in 2021 with a fantastic range of shows and events that celebrate the queer arts and culture of Melbourne. One such performance is a hilarious parody by the fabulous Dolly Diamond known as ‘Dolly Diamond’s Star for a Night’. This production sees Dolly Diamond host a talent show that transforms mundane, everyday folk into fabulous and famous musical superstars.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into when I entered the theatre to see that the iconic Chapel off Chapel had been transformed into a glittery television studio with us, the patrons, as the live studio audience. I actually panicked a little when stage manager, Dean Arcuri, came out and began to hype us up. Stating that this was a ‘live recording’ and that he needed us to be ‘as loud as possible’. I quickly realised that it was not an actual live recording, but a parody of one, which was very clever and had me wondering who else in the audience initially thought the same thing. So, with the ‘live studio audience’ sufficiently hyped, the lights go down, we are counted into action and Dolly Diamond enters into the spotlight. We are introduced to Tom Oliver as the first contestant of the show, a print and copy specialist from Chapel Street, Prahran whose dream is to perform on stage. With Dolly on hand to rescue him from his boring everyday life, he’s set to realise his dream to take on the persona of Elton John.
Each of the three shows are accompanied by Matthew Hadgraft and Tash York that take on the dream persona of the contestants, each of which put on a stellar (pun intended) performance. We are also treated to a special guest performer. Bob Downe and Silvie Paladino took to the stage during the first two shows. Lucy Holmes will perform at the final show. For our show, the ever so fabulous Rhonda Burchmore was the guest star. In case you have been living under a rock, Rhonda Burchmore is Australian theatre royalty, Queen of the Jungle and also an Order of Australia recipient. It goes without saying that her performance had the audience on their feet!
This production is fantastic, extremely clever, hilarious and ironically self-aware. Dolly Diamond is a commanding queen, a natural performer with comedic timing to boot. The interactions with the audience and light roastings had me in stitches. Let’s not forget about her musical prowess, Dolly really does tick all the boxes and it makes me wonder why I had not seen any of her shows before in the past.
I am very thankful to have witnessed ‘Dolly Diamond’s Star for a Night’ and strongly encourage everyone to see the final show of Diamond’s 4-night residency, tomorrow. I for one, will definitely be keeping an ear to the ground for when she will be doing another production in future.
‘Dolly Diamond’s Star for a Night’ began playing at Chapel off Chapel from the 21st of April and will conclude on the 24th of April 2021.
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Photography by Elliot Moody.