Short+Sweet Sydney wasted no time in kicking off its 15th annual ensemble of what can only be described as a collective of mini theatre festivals earlier this month. Offering up bite-sized portions of cabaret, plays, voices, comedy and magic in a mission to build theatre-going audiences over eight weeks.
A special event side-festival as part of the annual Short+Sweet Cabaret Festival, the Short+Sweet Magic+Comedy Festival premieres over two big nights this month. With each night consisting of ten, ten minute magical and comedic acts, the evenings will feature a mixture of different performances. (So if you have some time up your sleeve, its well-worth heading along to both shows.)
Legendary Short+Sweet Festival Director, Pete Malicki, says that the only limitation on the performers is the time frame, which “gives people a really nice creative space to try something completely new”.
“We have a few magicians who are putting on completely new acts they have never done before, that maybe they’ve never had the platform to do before,” explained Malicki. “So this is giving them an opportunity to do whatever it is that they want to do – to try new material or just to do something really fun.”
Bringing a taster of his show Illusion through Expectation to Short+Sweet, Alex Moffat began his career as a magician when he was just seven years old. It was his Grandfather’s involvement with magic that enticed him as a child, and led him to an exciting career as a parlour magician.
“I love it when [the audience] draw gasps when something astonishing happens or [at] something that is visually amazing,” said Moffat. Specialising in close-up magic, Moffat combines high impact visual effects with ‘English Gentleman’ style humour to create entertaining performances. “With close-up magic there are so many things you can do with everyday objects and playing cards that you often improvise as you go along as well,” Moffat explained.
After performing in last year’s Sydney Fringe Festival, Moffat was approached by the Short+Sweet Magic team and offered a place in the festival. For him, magic is all about the enjoyment that it brings him, as well as leaving his audiences astonished and wanting more: “It’s the buzz you get from it, the look on people’s faces, the reactions you get from people that keeps you going. I’d say the gasps and the ‘wows’ and the ‘oohs’ and the ‘aahs’ are sort of what I hope for.”
Performing alongside Alex on night one of Short+Sweet Magic+Comedy is an Australian performance veteran Timothy Hyde, as well as Dale Trueman, Darren Zhou, Andrew Boyd and many more. The second show will see the likes of young guns Cardistry (who were made Australian Junior magic champions at age 12), as well as Adam Milgate, Conway Restom and Victor Lee.
Don’t forget that Short+Sweet Cabaret has a lot more than magic up its sleeve – with four marvellous weeks of music, drama, burlesque and song kicking off last week. Kay Armstrong, who has performed with Short+Sweet a number of times, says that the raw unpredictability of the festivals is what perpetuates her creativity and enables her to interact with the audience.
“I think that’s why I really enjoy being involved in Short+Sweet Cabaret, because it’s a form that allows you to have that freedom, to break the fourth wall, and to know your audience in a really intimate way,” Armstrong explained.
‘Bike’, Armstrong’s stage alter ego, has been warming up and amusing the crowds after MC-ing the Cabaret Festival’s first week. She will return in week four of Short+Sweet Cabaret, for her own hilarious ten minutes in the spotlight.
“I quite like getting the opportunity to break her [Bike] out, just because my practices are based in…contemporary dance performance, and so Bike sort of gives me the opportunity and the permission to just let rip,” said Armstrong.
The main season of the Short+Sweet Sydney Festivals run until the end of February, with Wildcards and finals continuing into mid March.
Short+Sweet Cabaret: On now until Jan 30. New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown. $28-$33. Tickets & info: shortandsweet.org/cabaret
Short+Sweet Comedy+Magic: Jan 17 & 24, from 5:30pm. New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown. $28-$33. Tickets & info: newtheatre.org.au/buy-tickets-2
With Short+Sweet this year boasting not just theatre, but cabaret, comedy and magic, there are more than 200 original 10-minute ‘bites’ of entertainment to sample over the summer. Some of the highlights include:
This play by 20-year-old rural QLD writer Sherry Harvey – about a girl seeking an abortion – is Sherry’s first to be staged and she’s made her way to Sydney for rehearsals and the premiere. It features Madeline Beukers, Conor Fogarty, Catherine Davies and Pamela Rome. (Its director is young, multi-talented Debbie Neilson who is also appearing in Short+Sweet Cabaret with Diamonds Last Forever (Jan 27-31) about Marilyn Monroe and James Bond on separate missions to kill each other!)
Jan 20–24. Short+Sweet Theatre.
Redeye to Bangkok
Sue Turner’s hilarious Redeye to Bangkok is about a woman scared of flying who is sure she’s seated next to a terrorist – but she’s not the only one with a phobia! Based on a true story! Melissa Myles, Hako Crisden and Toast d’Bechamel star.
Jan 20–24. Short+Sweet Theatre.
A Little Yarn and Some Patience
In the Wildcards section (weekend matinees) a team all based in Western Sydney present this heartwarming comedy with a twist, featuring four women facing surgery. Brooke Davidson, Bec Fletcher, Clare Mason and Nicole Smith star in Smith’s own play, directed by Ian Fletcher.
Alexandra Chambers is Fangirl – a girl obsessed with Dr Who and his companions (like Jenna Coleman!). A musical satire with accompaniment from David Macaulay, featuring songs like ‘Girl Crush’, which tells of Netflix, social media and obsessive fandom.
Natasha Window, Sally Hare and their girls recreate a speakeasy cabaret of the 1930s in Hush – racy, provocative and seductive!
In the debut night of the Comedy+Magic program is Double Trouble by Cardistry, a duo of 14-year-old illusionists – Lucas Itrawan and Ash Hodgkinson – who are already seasoned pros on the entertainment circuit! In the same show Seven Deadly Sins sees Adam Milgate as a hilarious mock evangelist magically divine each of his seven audience volunteer’s secret sins.
For multicultural LOLs sample Makedonka Stoilova’s Memoirs of a Wog Girl, ex-German comic CJ Delling or Thao Thanh Cao’s Appropriately Inappropriate. With hosts Adam Mada (Band of Magicians) and Suzie Q (World Poledancing Champion), there’s laughs and surprises in equal measure.
For all show details and bookings see shortandsweet.org