Musical Bang Bang is a ridiculously fun hour of unscripted madness

REVIEW Musical Bang Bang PINTEREST Photo: Claudio Raschella
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The Adelaide Festival Centre Banquet Room was filled to the brim last night for the opening night of Musical Bang Bang at Adelaide Cabaret Festival. No Chitty Chitty Bang Bang here, this is purely improvised musical comedy. After taking some audience suggestions as to venue, tropes and characters, the cast launch into making an improvised version of a musical. Our audience went with a children’s beauty pageant resulting in “The Pageant: The Musical”, which saw things get pretty crazy.

REVIEW Musical Bang Bang PINTERESTPhoto: Claudio Raschella
Photo: Claudio Raschella

Because the audience is different each night, so too will be the improvised musical that they come up with, so it is the kind of show you could see night in and night out and know it will always be different.


We assume that the cast, too, will change from night to night with the only fixed cast being Jane Watt (who you may know from Godspell) and Rob Johnson (who was in Calamity Jane), Franco-Australian Julia Zemiro, and Tom Cardy. Last night these four were joined by Orya Golgowsky, who is no stranger to improv being a graduate of Improv Theatre Sydney and a member of its ensemble, and Virginia Gay, Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2024’s Artistic Director who has been popping up on stages all over the festival. The wonderful Victoria Falconer (who has her own late-night show called The Parlour at the festival this weekend) performed the music to which the cast performed their impromptu songs.


Julia Zemiro became the stage Mum to her 19 year old daughter played by Virginia Gay telling her after several years of not winning that “today is your day and a little bit my day as well”. And no pressure at all but you have “one last chance to please your Dad”. The on-stage rapport between Zemiro and Gay was hilarious and each were completely believable in their ridiculous roles.

Julia Zemiro and Virginia Gay - Musical Bang Bang - Photo by Claudio Raschella
Julia Zemiro and Virginia Gay – Musical Bang Bang – Photo by Claudio Raschella

Tom Cardy plays Michael, the pageant boss, who takes his job very seriously. He puts his 6 year old daughter Michelle, played by Jane Watt, in charge of looking through photo of kids to find the one with the “It Factor”. Coming from a long line of children’s beauty pageant holders he tells of his grandfather who talent scouted on the boats pointing to some saying ”you have it” and to others  “you have scurvy”. Michael is a surprisingly complex man who tells Zemiro contestants can be shot if they’re pretending to be within the age limit of under 6, and revealing he’s a lonely man who just wants to be spooned.


Orya Golgowsky plays the once-upon-a-time baton twirling Grandad who hates the pageant and Rob Johnson the grandchild who implores him to let it go.


As you can see, the plot is completely mad as perhaps is the cast. Yet, somehow among the madness of the show, Virginia Gay managed to bring a tear to our eyes when she spoke in a little child-like voice to the photo of her dead Dad.


Each of the cast members showcased the incredibly sharp, quick-thinking minds that improv requires, which resulted in a completely ridiculous improv musical that had the audience laughing throughout. Given that the show will be different every time, we’re keen to go again tonight and see what tonight’s audience suggests and the cast put together.


Musical Bang Bang is an hour of improvised ridiculousness, where even the cast don’t know what to expect. It is because of that collective lack of knowledge that the beauty of the show shines. If you’re looking for a cabaret show with comedy and to see quick-thinking brilliance, this is a show for you.


Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Cabaret Festival


You can still grab tickets to tonight’s Musical Bang Bang via this link


You may also like to read our review of the 2024 Variety Gala

For more events with links to France and the Francophonie, check out our What’s on in June


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