Jest Like Danny Kaye

Russell Fletcher sings and stutters, stumbles and stomps his way through aspects of Kaye’s life and career in this engaging cabaret show.
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Back in the day, when I was a girl, movies made in the States took at least two years to be released in Australia. So when Danny Kaye came into my life, I was at boarding school in Townsville, occasionally allowed out to attend a movie. Hans Christian Andersen, Kaye’s romanticized musical version of the great Danish storyteller’s life, was always my favourite. Of course, we knew all the words of all the songs, because that is what you did, back in the day.


Russell Fletcher is a masterful cabaret performer, and while he doesn’t exactly impersonate Kaye in his current show for the Brisbane Cabaret Festival, he does present Kaye’s material with integrity and affection. Accompanied by the equally masterful pianist Greg Riddell, Fletcher sings and stutters, stumbles and stomps his way through aspects of Kaye’s life and career. ‘Anatole of Paris’ is here with his wonderfully versatile beret, ‘Tubby the Tuba’ puts in a brief appearance, and we all get to sing along to ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’, ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘The Eagle Rock’ and many more. Ah, memories.


And it’s true that they don’t write ‘em like that anymore. Kaye’s wife, Sylvia Fine wrote many of his songs, including the mad patter songs he was famous for, although Kaye often improvised his way through and around them when the mood took him. Fletcher brings the manic performance style to vivid life, stretching his tongue around the impossible tongue twisters and unbelievably long phrases.


Fletcher describes this performance as ‘appearing in Vista Vision – and low fidelity cabaret’, and truly, that’s what you get. An intimate revue, loosely – and occasionally clumsily – linked together, lots of audience participation, with a warm, fuzzy feeling guaranteed.


Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Jest like Danny Kaye

Performers: Russell Fletcher and Greg Riddell

Stage Door Theatre, Bowen Hills

3 – 4 November


Brisbane Cabaret Festival

25 October – 11 November


Flloyd Kennedy
About the Author
Flloyd Kennedy is an Australian actor, writer, director, voice and acting coach. She was founding artistic director of Golden Age Theatre (Glasgow), and has published critiques of performance for The Stage & Television Today, The Herald, The Scotsman, The Daily Record and Paisley Gazette. Since returning to Brisbane she works with independent theatre and film companies, and has also lectured in voice at QUT, Uni of Otago (Dunedin NZ), Rutgers (NJ) and ASU (Phoenix AZ). Flloyd's private practice is Being in Voice, and she is artistic director of Thunder's Mouth Theatre. She blogs about all things voice and theatre at and