The Last Five Queers

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Picture this if you can: your Grandmother’s house, mixed with a Lost and Found antique market housing the weirdest knick-knacks from a plethora of different eras. Times one thousand. Now add fairy lights and a cocktail bar. Even what you’re imagining probably can’t prepare you for the elusive Butterfly Club, tucked away at the end of an ominous-looking laneway in the city.

It’s an offbeat venue housing a variety of offbeat events for those in the know in Melbourne. As part of the Midwinta Festival (an offshoot of the Midsumma Festival celebrating Melbourne’s LGBT community), The Butterfly Club is hosting the return season of a cabaret titled The Last Five Queers. The show is essentially a story exploring sexuality, based around the music of composer Jason Robert Brown. You might not know the name, but you’d surely know his song ‘Stars and Moon’, which in this context is brought to life by one half of a homosexual couple, expressing his sadness at not having made the right decision breaking up with his partner. It’s a refreshingly-modern twist on the original.

We’re greeted at the front door by Brendan Fraser’s doppelgänger from Milan, who gleefully welcomes us into the dimly-lit treasure trove of antiquities inside. The main theatre is up some rickety stairs at the back of the club, and resembles what I would imagine an original cinema to look like. It’s small, seating perhaps 40 max, and there are church-like pews steeping up towards the back of the room, immediately giving the space an incredibly intimate feel. Director Leanne Marsland warmly introduces the show, and all of a sudden, the small space is alive with noise and activity. Making clever use of the room, the performers enter from the back, surprising the audience with their close proximity and commanding presence. The opening song is belted out by all five members of the cast, and their collective and individual voices do not disappoint. I am blown away (almost literally) by their power and precision, and the noise is incredible in the tiny arena.

The storyline is built around a homosexual relationship, heterosexual relationship, and a best friend relationship. It has a Lantana feel about it, all the stories intervening and connected somehow. Although there is minimal dialogue, the story is excellently told through Brown’s music, which at times appears written purposely for The Last Five Queers. The relationships are all relatable and modern, and the heartache, confusion and lust are all emotions expressed well and received personally by the audience. It is evidently clear that the cast of this show are destined for great things. However, the show-stealer was a tear-jerking, heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Still Hurting’, sung by Henry Brett. His obvious emotion evoked by the song was incredible to witness.

This heartwarming headline season of The Last Five Queers is showing at The Butterfly Club until 9 August. For cabaret-lovers, quirky club-lovers and lovers of all things Melbournian and inclusive, this show is a must-see to support our musical theatre up-and-comers.

The Last Five Queers
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Tuesday July 28 – Sunday August 9

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