Performance review: Velvet Rewired, Sydney Opera House

Put on your most glamorous outfit and prepare for disco fever highlights.

Should anyone claim disco to be the peak of Western civilisation, then Velvet Rewired would have to be one of its finest achievements. One would be hard pressed to find anything, anywhere, remotely this impressive. In a coming together of concert, cabaret, circus and nightclub, Velvet Rewired is show business at its showiest and, conversely, most serious. It is one hour and 15 minutes of relentless first-class entertainment. 

Velvet Rewired is an ode to the disco era and the infamous Studio 54 nightclub, appropriately being staged in the Studio space at the Sydney Opera House. The room is electrified by a pounding soundtrack of reimagined 70s disco classics: ‘Born to be Alive’, ‘Boogie Wonderland’, ‘Don’t Leave Me this way’, ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ and ‘Turn the Beat Around’. 

As the audience filters in, it looks like a crowd of A-listers heading into Studio 54, all glitter and glamour, air kissing and other over-the-top greetings. The theatre space does indeed look like a nightclub, with a giant disco ball shimmering in the middle of the room and smoke lingering in the air. There are many sparkling costumes, flares and big hair. 

The audience is enthralled for the entire 75-minute show. There is much heartfelt singing and clapping along to each timeless classic, and enthusiastic cheering at the end of every track, when the whole room dramatically plunges into darkness before the next act begins. The audience literally dances out of the theatre after the show in a sea of collective rapture.

Velvet Rewired performers work tirelessly at the highest level of skill. DJ, percussionist and Music Director Joe Accaria jumps from mixing up above the stage to bongo solos and electric drum-thumping, all while looking the part in glittered headphones and dark sunglasses. The ‘sirens’ Jacinta Gulisano and Sasha Lee Saunders appear first as backing singers and dancers, but they are so much more than that, both extraordinarily talented and with enviable energy. Their talents are on full display when they steal the show with a superb rendition of ‘Turn the Beat Around’, equally skilled in singing and dancing.

The acrobatics are performed by first-class artists. Craig Reid, aka ‘The Incredible Hula Boy’ is an award-winning hula hoop performer holding multiple Guinness World Records. Aside from his jaw-dropping talent, he is a gorgeous and charming entertainer.

A roller skating duo execute a terrifying death-defying act that only the most dedicated acrobats could accomplish, while aerialists Beau Sargent and Harley Timmermans show the strength and agility of highly trained bodies.

Tom Sharah as ‘Country Mike’ brings a musical theatre vibe to the disco tracks. In his rendition of ‘Don’t Leave Me this Way’ the emotion is visceral, as he belts out the lyrics and stumbles up and down the podium as if his heart has been ripped out of his chest.

Then, of course, there is the formidable Marcia Hines, one of this country’s most treasured artists, with a career spanning five decades and 22 album releases, selling 2.6 million copies. Her voice is still remarkable and she is right in her element here – the queen of the stage with a gloriously opulent outfit thanks to set and costume designer James Browne, who’s responsible for the onstage glamour.

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Award-winning director Craig Ilott has done a stellar job on this show. Every syllable sung, every dance move performed, every twist and flip of the acrobatics is timed and staged to perfection for ultimate entertainment value. I dare anyone to go and try not to have the greatest night out of their life.

Velvet Rewired
Presented by Sydney Opera House in association with Peter Rix

Tickets: from $64.90

Velvet Rewired will be performed until 12 February 2023.

Sarah Liversidge is a journalist and writer from Melbourne with various obsessions including politics, social issues and art in all its forms. She is currently completing a journalism degree at RMIT university where she is an editor at the student run publication, The Swanston Gazette.