Chameleon – Theatre Review

You might be under the impression that a performer who calls themselves a ‘chameleon’ wouldn’t be the most original performer. Maybe someone that impersonates a new performer night after night. What makes this show so different is that Stewart Reeve isn’t an impersonator. He can do a great impersonation, sure. But it’s Reeve’s aptitude to be a storyteller with a vocal range that truly sets him apart.

It’s not surprising that Reeve is a self-proclaimed chameleon, hearing him do a supermarket scanner noise and Donald Trump within minutes of each other, the crowd was already eating out of the palm of his hand. I immediately fell in love with Reeve’s humour that seems to be exclusive for Australian comedians; a little bit self-deprecating yet so open with their audience, falling in love is almost impossible.

The main premise of Chameleon comes from Reeve’s love with music, mostly through his mother’s diverse range of CDs which led to Reeve performing a medley of music from his favourite artists. Providing an impressive and captivating rendition of Pet Shop Boys’ ’Always on my Mind’, I was also surprised by how eerily similar Reeve sounded to Neil Tennant. This was one of the numerous times that I thought there was some trickery happening. But his impressions were too good that it was only after his vocal lesson for the crowd that it was clear what we were witnessing was nothing but pure talent rather than tomfoolery.

The vocal lesson that I’m referring to comprised of finding out what our false vocal cords were, how to use them, and the muscles in our soft pallet. This was great because we had a crowd of people making stupid noises and if I ever get the question on a quiz, I can answer about false vocal cords now!

The highlight of Chameleon is without a doubt the moment Reeve spoke about ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. Now, I was already blown away by Reeve’s vocal abilities, but his storytelling here is what really made the night. Sharing thee story of watching ‘Rocky Horror’ with his childhood friends and then dressing up as the characters, Reeve flashes a photo on the screen behind him of his younger self dressed as Frank-N-Furter, fake cigarette in-hand, and wearing his mum’s heels with his friends posing alongside him. Upon seeing this photo, Reeve’s vocals were still surprising and his rendition of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ was the best t I’ve ever heard of the song and that’s not hyperbole. If they have another run of Rocky Horror, Reeve NEEDS to be Frank-N-Furter. My personal highlight was his moving performance of ‘I’m Going Home’.

Putting my Rocky Horror fangirling aside, I must mention the speed run of impressions Reeve can perform. With flawless execution beginning by playing the crowd audio of ‘Anthony Newley’ and ending with audio of ‘Tom Waits’. Reeve showed the audience that he can take an impression of Anthony Newley, end on Phil Collins, and make it educational.

Stewart Reeve is undoubtedly a vocal chameleon. I heard him play ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on the recorder, without a recorder, and then effortlessly sing Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’. Chameleon admittedly makes for the kind of show I’d never thought I’d get to see. Putting his unbelievable vocals aside, Reeve has a wonderfully entertaining and natural stage presence. As as much as Reeve is a wonderful singer, and his voice can become anything, he was also just so joyous and bubbly when passionately sharing his stories.

I loved Chameleon. It was fun, intimate, and that joy Reeve exuded was infectious.

Stewart Reeve‘s Chameleon played from July 27 to 29 at Gasworks Arts Park.
Although the season is unfortunately over, please visit the links below for future shows:

Photography by Brig Bee Photo.

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