For Matt Gilbertson, last year was a doozy. As his alter-ego, cabaret queen Hans the German, he was living his best life performing and touring around the world. That is, until he became injured.
In true dramatic diva style fashion, during one of his cabaret performances, Hans fell 4 metres into the orchestra pit of a European tour cruise ship, at the time located near Turkey. Unfortunately, this resulted in Gilbertson injuring his spine and shattering his foot.
Forced to cease his scheduled performances to make room for a long recovery in London, it’s honestly a miracle to see this cabaret star jumping around and dancing again, and this time he’s on his own Australian tour.
Queue ‘Hans: Disco Spektakulär Tour 2023’. While the title may sound like his Melbourne International Comedy Festival show which I witnessed early last year, in comparison this longer and toured version of Disco Spektakulär is more personal, more fun, and more hilarious than ever.
Before even stepping onto the stage, the video introduction of Hans’ journey thus far had audiences both shocked and cackling. Gilbertson had found the humour in his struggles and his recovery, resulting in an excellently entertaining cabaret show that many in the industry would be envious of.
With the abundance of sparkly outfits and a vast number of disco tunes, Hans the German was fabulous from the get-go, the audience hanging onto his every word. The songs that Hans dished out, one after the other, had me realising that despite the odd ABBA song, I actually don’t know that many disco tunes. But it didn’t matter. Everything was captivating, vibrant, and severely engaging. You think you’re safe in your seat? Think again! It doesn’t matter how far you are from the stage; Hans will do his best to come to you. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you could even be part of the show.
Hans’ superhero fast quick wit and his mischievous humour is evidence that he is a master of his craft. The cheekiness and sassiness that he exudes on stage is the perfect combination of chaotic and wholesome. Hans has found a way to hone in his talent and skills, and executes them masterfully, as if he had managed to conjure and capture magic in a bottle. More than just a pretty face, Hans’ talents appear almost limitless. Not only can this cabaret comedian sing, dance, and give cheek back before you can even blink, but his skills playing the piano accordion and the piano also thoroughly impress.
But what I love about Hans’ Disco Spektakulär Tour the most though, is how joyful and inclusive it is. Yes, he pokes fun at the lovely Madeline MacArthur and Rachel Vidoni who accompany Hans during the show and have killer voices to boot. He also pokes fun at audience members who were daring enough to sit right up the front. But every action and notion that Gilbertson makes as Hans is not without thought and heart.
By the end, Hans will have you on your feet and dancing. There will be balloons flying around much like a Coldplay concert but better. And if you so dare, you can even join Hans on stage to dance during the encore. The elation that I saw of those dancing on the stage at the end was infectious. Every patron that stepped onto that stage came from all walks of life and were of all ages, yet in that moment they were collectively in a shared state of happiness.
I can only imagine how much fun Gilbertson has when in the Hans persona. His influence and impact with the ability to make his audience laugh and smile until their face hurts (including me), while still providing a welcoming and safe space to enter and escape into Hans’ world for the night, is honestly such a rare and great gift.
It is clear that Hans’ Disco Spektakulär Tour is not just about the disco tunes and sequins. It is a celebration of life and a victory lap for his journey thus far. With serious injuries that Gilbertson successfully overcame, not even a shattered foot and injured spine can keep this man away from the stage where he so undeniably belongs.
I had the pleasure of attending Hans’ Frankston show last month and while that show is most definitely over, there are still two legs of his national tour left. Hans plays at The Palms at Crown in Melbourne on October 20 (this week!) and will return to Adelaide on December 2, playing at Norwood Concert Hall. This is one cabaret show and tour you should not miss.