PETER Milley’s Cairo Club Orchestra, that wonderful big band re-creator of the style and music of the 1930s, recently teamed up with The Astor Theatre in St Kilda to present a special event.
As Melbourne film buffs would know, The Astor on the corner of Chapel Street and Dandenong Road, St Kilda is a movie theatre in the grand manner. More than 75 years old, it retains the Art Deco glamour of the 30s when going to a movie was an EVENT. On Sunday 20 November, the matinee was made even more special by the “curtain raiser” to the classic Bogart film, Key Largo.
In addition to the Cairo Club, the bill of fare included special guests Nichaud Fitzgibbon, dancers Eden and Hannah, Greg Sumner on banjo, and exotic dancer Azura.
Unfortunately I didn’t hear about this occasion until after the event, but I am indebted to Jaz Stutley of the band, FRILLY KNICKERS, for this review.
In the tradition of old time radio and variety theatre (such as the famous Tivoli) but with the addition of film and swing orchestra, this unique event was another success for both the band and the Astor Cinema.
The Astor’s Art Deco surroundings are an entirely appropriate venue for such an enterprise. This is the seventh event by the band in this venue; but never before with the special guests we saw perform with such skill and panache.
All it lacked was a comedian – no, actually, Bandleader Peter Milley was in his usual form – and acrobats; though the young dancers Eden and Hannah came close with their tap-dancing and cartwheels.
Nichaud Fitzgibbon was in fine relaxed voice and fettle, surprising us with her Dietrichesque costume change for the second bracket and inspired interpretations of songs of the period.
Azura WAS “Egyptian Ella” and brought a sense of humour as well as her exotic dance expertise, presence and costumes.
The Cairo Club Orchestra supplemented their extensive repertoire with hot new numbers, and played with élan and gusto. Special guest Greg Sumner and his banjo were a big hit with the enthusiastic crowd.
All this, and Bogey and Bacall too! I was so involved in the entertainment that I dropped bits of choc-top down my front, and so went home completely satisfied.
Here’s a clip (filmed and edited by Richard Bence) of the band playing Egyptian Ella.
To get yourself onto the Astor mailing list for future movies and specials, go to http://www.astortheatre.net.au/calendar and Subscibe.
To follow the travels of the Cairo Club, go to www.cairocluborchestra.com