14 November

Cuban bar El Coco pops up for a month of cocktails and summer parties


It’s a beautiful union: Cuban food, Bacardi cocktails and smooth, summery tunes. El Coco (named after the palm tree planted in the first Cuban Bacardi distillery in 1862) is now open at the site of King Street’s Exchange Hotel to warm up the business end.

Let’s talk rum. Behind the bar will be 1806’s Sebastian Raeburn, who’ll be conjuring rum Negronis, so-called ‘Invisible Mojitos’, and his own version on the classic ‘Bacardi Cuba Libre’.

Pair one of Raeburn’s creations with a Beef Rib Stackwich (courtesy of Hammer and Tong’s executive chef Simon Ward) and you’re in business. Ward has already earned his Cuban stripes at the Cuban Jazz Festival, so you know that the stackwich (plus his soft shell crab tacos and Cuban chocolate cigars) will be winners.

El Coco is open late – we’re talking 5am late – and will play host to an impressive lineup of bands and DJs.… Read more

12 November

Sweet Charity the musical comes to the Arts Centre next February

'Big Spender' - Sweet Charity

If the title doesn’t spark the musical theatre-loving sensors of your brain, then surely the song titles ‘Hey Big Spender’ or ‘Rhythm of Life’ will.

In February next year, the Arts Centre’s Playhouse will be transformed into a seedy dance hall of ’60s New York: the world of Charity Hope Valentine. Sweet Charity tells the story of an eternally optimistic, tragically gullible ‘dance hall hostess’ looking for love. During her journey, she finds herself trapped in elevators, hiding in closets and joining the congregations of a new-age flower child religion. It’s silly, slapstick, romantic but – in the end – not the least bit predictable (really!). Song and dance-wise, you can expect everything from huge brassy numbers to jazzy ballads, plus the quirky, jerky moves of the ‘Rich Man’s Frug’, choreographed by the unmatched Bob Fosse, and immortalised in the Sweet Charity film of 1969, starring Shirley MacLaine.

The show touches down in Melbourne after scoring three Helpmann awards (sort of like Australia’s Tonys) – one being for an outstanding performance by leading lady Verity Hunt-Ballard, known for her practically perfect take on Mary Poppins in the 2010 run at Her Majesty’s Theatre.… Read more

12 November

St Kilda’s George Cinemas to be reborn as Alex Theatre

Alex Theatre

Amid the disheartening news of the Astor Theatre’s forthcoming closure and the uncertain status of the Palais Theatre, good news about St Kilda’s arts venues is very, very welcome.

Today, it comes in the form of news that Fitzroy Street’s George Cinemas will be converted into a mid-size performing arts hub: the Alex Theatre, opening in February next year.

Earlier this year, the George Cinemas were closed by developers who planned to convert them into a block of apartments. Thankfully, progress was halted by entrepreneur and theatre producer Aleksander Vass, who couldn’t abide seeing yet another of St Kilda’s arts venues fall.

Stepping up in front of media and local politicians at the site of the former cinemas, Vass proudly announced that the building will be transformed into three performing arts spaces.

“St Kilda residents have been blunt in telling me how much they want our theatres to succeed,” he said.… Read more

6 November

Grrl Fest 2015

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.23.13 PM

Inspired by similar Grrl Fests overseas, sideshow performer and self-confessed loud laugher Amy Broomstick launched the Melbourne bash in 2013, a riot of lady talent (or, more specifically, women-identifying talent, because trans-women are equally celebrated). Since its inception, the event’s grown exponentially, celebrating femme musos, cabaret and spoken word.

Grrl Fest makes it clear that everyone’s welcome (including dudes), but only women-identifying talent is showcased. For anyone pondering the necessity for such an event, just check out the women to men ratio on the forthcoming festival line-ups. Not to drop anyone in it, but when Broomstick contacted a major summer festival and encouraged them to include some more female artists, the response was that said festival was “interested in new ideas”. What the? Since when has the inclusion of ladies on a bill been a new idea? We reel.

Grrl Fest also provides a safe festival space and none of us need a reminder that it’s not entirely risk free out there, especially if you’re not a fella.… Read more

6 November

Experimental electro pops up at the Arts Centre’s Hexadome

Posted by in Arts, Music, News


Promising a feast for the senses, the Arts Centre forecourt will be transformed for two nights this month into a pop-up performance space and bar – the Hexadome.

Artists from Ableton Live User Group – a community of professional and emerging music producers – will take turns during both nights. They’ll each fill 20 to 30 minute slots before the next muso takes to the stage, bringing the audience on a new adventure through live looping, real-time FX processing and live remixing of original and improvised electronica.

From folk and pop to the far reaches of ambient and upbeat electronica, you’ll encounter some unusual and (hopefully) harmonius sounds. Craft will be the centre of attention – the artists will perform surrounded by their audience, who can watch how they work their magic. Cameras around the room will project their performances onto LCD televisions set up around the space.

On the first night (Thu Nov 20), psy-folk musician Joe Oppenheimer will kick things off, followed by Chairman Loud, Philipp Lange, then dub club artist BenAtWork and experimental post-wave producer Super Magic Hats.… Read more