In Chicago, Illinois, the Cabana Brothers (Al, Sal, Hal and Mal) run their illicit deals from their Copa-Cabana Speakeasy. When their star attraction, Bubbles Galore, discovers that compromising photographs of her and “never-mind-who” have gone missing, she engages the aid of Private Dick, Sam Shovel, to find them. So begins this 1920s cartoonish trek of music, murder, mayhem and mistaken identities.
Paul Danger McLean – Sam Shovel/Agnes
Sue Oldknow – Vera
Deirdre Quinn – Bubbles Galore
John Martin – Al Cabana
Clint Mullins – Sal Cabana
Chris Burrow – Hal Cabana
Paul Trueack – Mal Cabana
Violet Rowe – Chef
Debra Waller – Cleaner
Shelley Pontiac – Millie
Cherylene O’Brien – Susie
Sue Monck – Playwright
David D’Angelo – Music Director
Daniel Thistlewaite – Violin
Paul Trueack – Drums
Violet Rowe – Props and Wardrobe
Mark Hallam – Sound
Caetlyn McLean – Backstage
AJ McLean – Assistant to Paul Danger McLean

The following videos show a selected scene from each show filmed by Crafty Lion Productions.


Presented by Upstage Theatre
Reviewed 1 February 2014
Upstage Theatre company’s home-grown musical comedies and children’s pantomimes have been entertaining local audiences for about two decades. Pulling one from the vaults, the company has updated and reprised Speakeasy: An Extragangster for the 2014 Adelaide Fringe. The show is light and fluffy, a far cry from the company’s popular Jack the Ripper offering in the last Fringe.

An early preview last weekend revealed Sue Monck’s original script for Speakeasy has retained all the charm and ham acting of its tour some 17 years ago. Original, catchy songs by Musical Director David D’Angelo seem to be the primary difference in this revival. His opening song sets the scene nicely.

Director John Martin reprises his role as Al Cabana, a 1920s gangster and speakeasy owner during the prohibition years of America. His Cabana Club is run by his shady brother Sal (Clint Mullins), with muscle from the two remaining siblings, dim-witted Hal and lunatic Mal (Chris Burrows and Paul Trueack respectively). Al’s long suffering fiancée, Bubbles Galore (Deirdre Quinn), hires Private Eye Sam Shovel (Paul McLean) to go undercover in the club to locate some incriminating photographs of herself and “never mind who”. What ensues is a raft of mistaken identities, accidental murders and blossoming romances.

The ensemble plays well together, offering an even performance across the board, whether it be one of the main players or one of the supporting cast: Debbie Waller or the ever-talented Sue Oldknow.

Violet Rowe does, however, shine for both her stellar costuming and a priceless cameo as a bewildered Head Chef, which had the audience clapping in beat with the music each time she entered and exited the stage.

As a piece of light-hearted entertainment, they play’s meandering storytelling is far from detrimental to the one-liners, cross-dressing, bad puns and ongoing gags that keep resurfacing for another laugh.

D’Angelo on piano forms part of the effective three-piece band which includes Trueack on drums and Daniel Micklethwaite on violin and vocals. Choreography by Cher O’Brien is well executed by herself and Shelley Pontiac (both playing flapper girls), and most particularly in their dance to the gangster ditty, I’m a Really Tough Guy.

If there’s any complaint about this campy sendup of gangster movies and private eyes, it’s the positioning of the microphones, which sometimes obscure the faces of the performers, and the surprise ending which remains true to the original script but seems to come out of left-field. That said, Mark Hallam, on lights and sound, ensures everyone is well lit and heard clearly over the live band.

The BYO cabaret seating at the preview was complementary to the Speakeasy scenario and will hopefully carry over into the Fringe season.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Speakeasy: An Extravagangster
When: 1, 8 & 15 March
Where: Prospect Town Hall, 126 Prospect Rd, Prospect
Tickets: $21 – $25.50
Bookings: Book through FringeTix online or phone 1300 621 255
The opening musical number is an explosion of colours, feathers, fedoras, and choreography that sets the scene. The plot takes inspiration from iconic Roaring 20s and gangster-style films and musicals, including Chicago, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Godfather, and Scarface—the end result is something akin to a How to Host a Murder game where several plots are interwoven with bad puns and weak gags. The mystery of the missing photographs is the main plot, aided by several other questions including the identity of the new barman at the Cabana Club, the ‘taking care of’ Louie the Louse, a rival gang’s snitch, and the mysterious cleaner who appears at the most inconvenient of times singing lustily the old favourites from Italy.

John Martin and Clint Mullins, who played Al Cabana and Sal Cabana, respectively, were the stars of the show keeping in character and giving flawless performances. The other cast members gave good varying performances. Some of the musical numbers had modern arrangements that varied from the 1920s mood but the overall direction and choreography was successful. The costumes were magnificent as was the stage decoration, and the lighting highlighted the ambiance of the Cabana Club. The live band (drummer, violinist and pianist) never missed a note or beat and added to the authenticity of the setting.

The plots and mysteries had a satisfying conclusion and the rousing grand finale song is still stuck in my head.

Speakeasy: An Extravagangster is a family-friendly, entertaining show that dazzles and captures the opulence and luxury of a speakeasy club from a time when gangsters owned a town and women ran the show. A light-hearted comedy for lovers of period musicals and frivolous entertainment.

Reviewed by Prerna Ashok 1 March 2014 FRINGE REVIEW UK.CO.
by Rod Lewis
In Chicago, Illinois, the Cabana Brothers (Al, Sal, Hal & Mal) run their illicit deals from their Copa-Cabana speakeasy. When their star attraction, Bubbles Galore, discovers that compromising photographs of her and “never-mind-who” have gone missing, she engages the aid of Private Dick, Sam Shovel, to find them. So begins this 1920s cartoonish trek of music, murder, mayhem and mistaken identities.

Traditionally presented as a dinner theatre package, Upstage have chosen a more formal, theatre-style setting for this production of Speakeasy. It features three of the original cast – John Martin, Deirdre Quinn and John Webster – who are joined by a highly talented ensemble of new blood: mega-star-in-the-making, Amber McMahon, Anthony Waack, Graham Roberts, Rino Crescitelli, Rachel McCall and Therese Harris.

Each performer has a good grasp on both their character and the absurd plot, and they all have wonderful singing voices. But with more cheese than charm, this show really does need to be presented in an informal setting, as done in the past, to really work to full effect. Such an over-the-top, simplistic script, punctured with more puns than a bad joke, looses greatly in the harsh confines of a makeshift theatre space in a noisy pub.

Director Rikki Howard has done some remarkable things with Speakeasy, including the addition of ample new humor and interaction between the characters, and he does wonders moving the cast in such a tight acting area. Ultimately however, this fun-loving troupe of performers really do need to keep to the casual to give true justice to an otherwise fun show.
Crown & Sceptre Hotel, Until March 11
Reviewed by Nick Carroll
THIS clever local musical comedy sends up Prohibition-era gangster movies stealing great lines from everything from Some Like it Hot to Casablanca. And while the company needs to keep chipping away at Suzanne Monck’s script, they’ve got here quite an entertaining slapstick romp.

The storyline sees notorious gang leader Al Cabana (John Martin) and his brothers Hal, Mal and Sal trying to gun down a rival crim called Louie the Louse. All along, Louie (David Winston) is in disguise as the chef at Al’s speakeasy.

Meanwhile Al’s girl Bubbles Galore (Deirdre Quinn) has enlisted the help of private eye Sam Shovel (Anthony Waack) to retrieve some incriminating photos of her with someone else. Sam goes undercover as a showgirl at the speakeasy and winds up the object of Al’s amorous attention.

There are also a few other intervening plots which serve to highlight some bright new talent including the delightful Rachel McCall as Millie the showgirl.

Another one to watch is the engaging Amber McMahon who, in the style of Popeye’s girl Olive Oyl, plays Sam’s secretary who falls for Hal Cabana (Graham Roberts) even though she’s working undercover as a male waiter.

John Pemberthy backs some glorious old show tunes on the keyboard while John Webster, who plays Sal Cabana, keeps the beat on the drum kit.