Anybody who has been around the cabaret and fringe scene for a while will know that decent, well-written cabarets are sometimes hard to come by. Often used as a platform for singers to present a host of 'songs I like to sing' strung together with a loose dialogue about how they fell in love and then hit "rock bottom" at the ripe old age of 21. Yes, the cabaret scene is a whirlpool of mixed interpretations of what defines 'entertainment'. But every now and again you find a gem, a diamond in the rough. A show that is so polished and seamlessly written that you forget all about the last cabaret ordeal you had when the performer literally stopped mid-show and said "tough crowd". That gem, is Britni Leslie.
Shhh its and Giggles (named so because Facebook doesn't appreciate profanity in their event titles) is a masterclass in comedic musical cabaret writing. The subject matter, the song choices, the presentation and the structure are all so brilliantly interwoven that it will well and truely trick you into thinking all cabaret must be "this good".
Leslie is a Californian blonde-bombshell soprano who has moved to the land of Oz for love. A former Disneyland princess, Leslie's life has been anything but a fairytale. Shhh its and Giggles is a comedic and heartbreaking exploration of what it means to be a young woman growing up in a world of expectations vs reality. On the surface, it is very funny. Lots of embarrassing stories and "no way" moments, paired with a wonderfully executed game-show element. But at its core is a story so personal and so raw that I actually don't even feel that it is my business to share it in this review - despite it being an overwhelmingly powerful moment in the show. If the suspense is killing you - buy a ticket to the next round of this show (I'm sure there will be one, this show would kill at a Fringe Fest).
What is perhaps most endearing about Leslie's performance is the fact that she lifts you up with laughter, guts you with raw reality and then warms you with her persistent and positive spirit. All of that and she has a killer voice. And when you're performing a musical cabaret, and the thing that people are talking about is your 'show' as opposed to your 'voice'; you've done a good job.
Accompanied by the incomparable Tim Verdon on piano, Leslie has written a solid cabaret piece. Keep an eye out for her name at festivals and at The Butterfly Club. To stay up to date, you can follow her on Facebook.