‘Tis The Season sees match-made-in-heaven duo Maverick Newman and Stacey Thomsett take on the roles of Bailey and Bonnie, siblings attempting to handle their dysfunctional family amidst the ever-challenging silly season.

This fun, festive and frankly honest Christmas cabaret seemingly hits home for many, tackling tough topics that may often cause contention around the holiday dinner table.

The holidays can be a testing time for all involved, especially when the layers on the Christmas trifle include big personalities, booze, the unending summer heat and the all-too-common ignorance of judgmental relatives. Throughout the cabaret, we see Bailey and Bonnie poke fun at their colourful relatives in order to cope with political disagreements over issues like sexuality, religion, gender and other taboos, as well as a healthy sprinkling of long-kept family secrets. Whilst the best response to a family member making an ignorant comment at Christmas may not be to “spit on them”, with relatives like Bailey and Bonnie’s, you could be forgiven for thinking this would be a gross under-reaction!

With simple yet effective melodies, Newman and Thomsett’s original score is as catchy as your favourite Christmas carol…that is, with wildly outrageous (and ingenious) lyrics! Let’s just say, they’ll be stuck in your head for days to come, but you mightn’t want to belt them out loud in public…

Newman provides most of the evening’s accompaniment from his tinsel-adorned piano, but mixes it up every now and then with a creatively constructed backing track or a little assistance from Thomsett. Clearly at ease playing their music, Newman’s use of dynamics on the keys paired with the duo’s quirky and relatable facial expressions gives the act an overarching air of playfulness. This also helps to remind the audience that we shouldn’t be taking them all too seriously, and that the show on the whole is all in jest and good faith.

Thomsett exhibits herself as a vocal powerhouse, showcasing just how well she can sing with numbers like the original ‘I Don’t Need a Boyfriend’ and ‘Praise Be’. Newman also proves himself a stunning vocalist, however shines greatest in his comedic abilities. Not only does he get his mouth around their often-tongue twisting lyrics, but also expertly takes on the physicality of additional characters like 13-year-old cousin Maisie and ‘terrible’ Aunt Patricia.

However, despite their obvious prowess as individual performers, it would be remiss to forget how well these two work together. Each tale or tune is filled with deliciously scandalising quips and gags, which Newman and Thomsett ensure never fall flat and remain relatable to the audience. Their rapport with one another as siblings could not be more convincing, and the fun they have onstage is infectious – one could conceivably leave the theatre thinking that ‘Tis the Season is the true tale of Newman and Thomsett growing up together. As fresh-faced WAAPA graduates, it’s exciting to know that these two are only at the beginning of what will surely be storied careers in the arts. Whilst they are capable performers who will go onto do great things individually, I personally cannot wait to see them working together again in the future.

‘Tis The Season is a snarky yet utterly joyous take on the often tricky-to-navigate Christmas season that shouldn’t be missed.

‘Tis The Season runs until December 15 at The Butterfly Club. To book tickets head to thebutterflyclub.com

Review by Lachie McFarlane

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