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An Evening with Molly Ringwald

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Nostalgia almost certainly helped fill the seats at the Dunstan Playhouse for Molly Ringwald’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival performances. Like this reviewer, the mostly Gen-X and Baby Boomer audience members were no doubt keen to see in the flesh – and in a different guise – the flame-haired actress who won hearts with her performances in classic ’80s films such as The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.

Wearing a body-skimming backless black gown and vermilion lipstick, she looked every inch the cabaret star, backed by a collection of smartly suited musicians on bass, saxophone, drums and piano.

The show began with a sultry performance of “I Always Get My Man” and continued with a catalogue of jazz tracks and love songs from the American Songbook, many of which feature on Ringwald’s recent album, Except Sometimes.

Songs ranged from the melancholy title track from the album, “I Get Along Very Well Without You (Except Sometimes)” and “Ballad of the Sad Young Men”, to the more upbeat “My Old Flame” and “I’ll Take Romance”. A surprise highlight was Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain”; most disappointing was a rather bland re-worked version of The Breakfast Club theme song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.

Ringwald’s honeyed vocals are sweet, but not exceptional. She is fortunate, however, to have the support of an excellent band, whose members all had their own individual moments in which to shine; especially impressive was pianist and music arranger Peter Smith.

Despite her film and Broadway credits, Ringwald lacks the stage presence of many more seasoned live performers. Yet her playful banter and lack of guise are endearing, especially when she shares personal stories such as how she sang “Exactly Like You” as a lullaby for one of her four-year-old twins, whose gurgle ended up on the album recording.

Ringwald unashamedly used every opportunity to promote the album, and laughingly encouraged the audience to keep track of how many times she mentioned it or held it aloft – we got to at least eight.

It may not be one of the standout shows of the 2013 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, but An Evening with Molly Ringwald was still a pleasant way to spend 90 or so minutes and indulge in a shared sense of nostalgia.

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