Wednesday, 13 November 2013

An Evening with Silvie Paladino

The Basement – The Arts Centre, Gold Coast

Thursday 31st October, 2013

On Friday evening, September 25th, 1995, Kirstin, one of my longest and dearest friends and I, sat in the front box on the OP side of the historic Capitol Theatre in Sydney to witness the magic that was the original Australian touring production of Miss Saigon. That extraordinary tale of love, loss and sacrifice had shaken us both to the very core. There clearly was not going to be enough tissues in Kirstin’s clutch-purse to see us both through to the story’s dramatic climax. 

By the middle of Act II we’d each imbibed a second glass of sparkling Chardonnay and were already very red-eyed and up to our ankles in soggy Kleenex … as the characters of Kim and Ellen (Chris’ two “wives”) meet for the first time in the hotel room. As the devastated Kim hurriedly departs, Ellen crosses down stage right (directly under our box seats) and begins to sing the emotive aria, Now That I’ve Seen Her.

Kirstin and I were already at the end of our emotional wits’ tether – we were down to our last Kleenex. Then, as if it were pre-ordained, Ellen glanced upward and made eye contact with that weeping couple in the box. Us! For the next three minutes it was like it were just the three of us in the room as that most stunning performer sang her heart-breaking song (seemingly) just to Kirstin and me. We were in awe - tears quite literally streamed down our cheeks. The performer in question was Silvie Paladino and to this day, that extraordinary moment remains one of the most powerful in all my 40-odd years of sitting in darkened theatres.

Fast-forward 18 years to the Arts Centre, Gold Coast and Kirstin (having flown in especially from her home in NSW) and I sat again in the dark, as Ms Paladino took to the stage in her intimate, one-woman cabaret. Suffice to say, her opening note made us gasp with anticipation and for the next two hours we were not to be disappointed.

Promoted by Matt Ward Entertainment in association with the Arts Centre, Gold Coast this gratifying occasion was the last in a highly acclaimed season of Greenroom Project events for 2013, which included not only the monthly showcase of inspiring local talent (a programme with which I am very proud to be associated) it brought us intimate encounters with such Aussie theatre icons as Amanda Harrison, Marina Prior and Silvie Paladino.

Some may call me cynical, but I regularly question the open candour with which the media and alleged “celebrity” judges rave about young artists on TV “talent shows”. Have they not heard the voices of the three ladies mentioned above? Have they never seen them perform? Have they never attended one of their cabarets?

This is the purity of the human voice at its most extraordinary. The strength. The delicacy. The emotion. The humour. As I have mentioned in my columns before – I’ve worked with some of the World’s true legends – Oscar winners, Emmy winners … and even the odd Gold Logie winner! (Sorry Bert, I couldn’t resist!) Yet here, in the Arts Centre Basement, I found myself truly in the presence of greatness.

You will go a long way to hear a more finely tuned “instrument” and to see it used to such perfection. Ably accompanied on the grand piano by Maestro Mark Gogoll, Silvie Paladino effortlessly transcended from the big Broadway belts, to the finest and most sincere of numbers. She performed classics from her days (in two different roles) in Les Miz, Cats and Chess as well as many of her personal favourites, including a special tribute to her own idol, Barbara Streisand.

Glenn T, Silvie Paladino
& Kirstin Knight (2013)
How lucky are we to have the opportunity to see and enjoy such great talent here on the Gold Coast. As we develop our region's facilities and expertise in anticipation of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, lets ensure the Arts are not left behind. Lets embrace such theatrical events in the future. I can say with certainty, we won't be disappointed.

It’s not often that I find myself loitering behind after the bar has closed and the “ugly lights” have come on … but Kirstin had travelled so far. It only seemed right to stay around for a photo!

Glenn T.

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