Romantics: A Unicorn's Quest for Love (Cabaret) Edinburgh
Fringe Festival, Greenside, Edinburgh
3 - 11, 13 - 18, 20 - 25 August 2018
posted 20 August 2018
Reviewer: Chris Omaweng
"...it turned out to
be an equally joyous and poignant production.... I’ve
never seen anything like this. An intriguing production,
as deep as it is wide."
full online reviewhere
(accessible as at 21 Aug18)
posted 12 August 2018
Reviewer: Aura Simon
".... Dean’s unicorn-ego is no wilting cupcake,
it’s forged in the fire of heartbreak, and bathed
in the fury of her own awakening. This is a glittering,
rainbow-hued warrior of a unicorn, and we are lucky to
be in her presence."
full online reviewhere
(accessible as at 13Aug18)
posted 11 August 2018
Reviewer: India Greenland (Review 1)
Reviewer: Eleanor Gunn (Review 2)
Romantics is one of edfringereview's editors' picks.
"....'Broken Romantics' a highlight of the Fringe
– everyone should see this show....You’ll
leave this show feeling absolutely empowered and ready
to take on the world, and with the confidence that you
too, are a unicorn."
"....Over the course of the show we are told a tale
in an eclectic mix of songs (both original and covers),
dance, and the spoken word. It was a true cabaret of incredible
talent, with absolutely no spare or faulty parts.... I
hope as many people as possible will go see this show.
You will leave ready to take on the world – and
who doesn’t want that?"
full online reviewshere
(accessible as at 13Aug18
posted 11 August 2018
the first song, the whiplash of tone was pleasingly romantic:
heartbreaking and heartwarming and, importantly, fun...."
full online review here
(accessible as at 13Aug18)
posted 11 August 2018
Reviewer: Lita Doolan
Star, sequins and love hearts "....Anyone
who is a fan of show music, fashion or pure love will
find this big hearted performance unmissable....
A Unicorns Quest for Love' is pure fun with the added
twist of stories told from the heart...."
full online reviewhere
(accessible as at
posted 6 August 2018
Reviewer: Paul Bloomfield
“If you love
love, if you love glitter and rainbows, if you love fantastic
music and hot boys dancing in their pants, then this is
definitely the show for you.
A musical journey that you won’t want to miss where
you will learn that, you know what? You, are a f**king
full online review here(accessible
as at 6Aug18)
Romantics: A Vicious Song-Cycle (Cabaret)
House Concert, Brisbane, Friday 16 February 2018
- Broken Romantics: A Vicious Song-Cycle, Friday 16 February
Note: This cabaret is now titled Broken Romantics:
A Unicorn's Quest for Love.
The Creative Issue (https://www.thecreativeissue.com.au),
Posted 26 February 2018
Reviewer: Kayla Wratten
Emma Dean: the Broken, Romantic
“A show for the warriors of love, the ragtag-hearted
heroes, the beautiful, the brave, the healed and the crushed,”
Emma Dean smiled at the audience spread before her in
an array of beanbags. Most comfortable show ever? I’ll
vouch for that.
The acclaimed songstress stood before us in a rainbow
skirt tailor-made for her new cabaret, Broken Romantics:
A Unicorn’s Quest for Love. After enjoying a sold-out
world premiere at the Brisbane Powerhouse in November
2017, Dean has revived the show in a one-off intimate
If we hadn’t guessed from the candle-lit pathways
or the heart stickers we were given upon arrival, it was
clear from the enormous broken heart sculpture and the
littering of rose petals at our feet that the show would
be all about the concept of heartbreak.
We weren’t wrong, but there were certainly a few
surprises that tipped the concept of heartache on its
Kieran T. Stevenson kicked off the night with nothing
but a keyboard and a captivating voice showcasing an impressive
vocal range. With repetitive lyrics forming motifs in
his work, Kieran proved to be a genuine and heart-warming
performer, setting the tone for the main act.
When Emma Dean first appeared, glitter smeared on her
cheeks and her skirt puffed around her legs, she seemed
to exude an aura of fantastic energy. The performer stepped
up to the microphone: “Revel in the messiness of
what it means to be human. Raise a glass to your own imperfections,
and perhaps… fall in love.”
It’s hard not to fall in love with her astonishing
elastic voice, seemingly able to stretch from deep valleys
to mountain peaks. Speaking of, the first song was a twisted
rendition of Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart,’
backed by musicians Tony Dean, Richard Grantham and Katie
Swan. From there, the audience was swept up in a whirlwind
of original music, from ‘Healed of You,’ to
‘Light of Day'.
The inspiration behind her cabaret originated from a
recent tour of Japan, where Dean learnt of the Japanese
pottery style kintsugi: preparing broken ceramic with
gold to highlight the unique cracks. She loves the idea
of “turning something broken into something beautiful.”
Broken Romantics isn’t all serious,
however, with songs such as ‘I Am a F*%King Unicorn’
and ‘I Want to Lick Your Eyeballs’…
the latter of which included a chalkboard diagram of an
eye and where exactly one needs to lick. Anyone share
Dean’s sexual fetish? No? I didn’t think so.
Quirky, kooky and a little bit eccentric … that’s
just who this breath-taking performer is and everything
about her is glorious. As Dean says, sometimes you need
to accept that you aren’t a horse… you really
are a unicorn.
With the show’s cover art by Katie
Swan, who also features as a backing vocalist, Emma Dean’s
albums have never been more enticing. The mystical scenes
the watercolours create instantly allow listeners to get
a feel for the music: transcendental, entrancing and overall-
Dean’s latest dream is to take the show to Edinburgh’s
Fringe Festival, the largest performing arts market in
the world. Broken Romantics have their own pozible
campaign calling for donations in exchange for some
unique prizes, like braiding Richard’s hair or having
dinner with the cabaret’s astounding physical theatre
performer, Jamie Kendall.
Broken Romantics closed with Dean singing a love song
to herself, eliciting an emotional response and an eruption
of applause from the beanbag-nestled audience. If there
is one guarantee from watching Emma Dean make magic, it’s
that you’ll leave with your heart far from broken.
Dean in Concert
Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre, Saturday 3 December
Dean in Concert, Saturday 3 December 2016 Blue Curtains Brisbane
(https://bluecurtainsbris.wordpress.com), Posted 9 December
Reviewer: Meredith Walker
Never enough Emma
Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emma
Dean is a consummate performer, having released many original
albums/eps. And original is perhaps the best way to describe
her style: quirky, intriguing and always exquisite in its
realisation. Indeed, from the moment her In Concert show
at Brisbane Powerhouse’s Wonderland Festival begins
with Richard Grantham’s evocative violin sounds, set
against the Visy Theatre’s moody blue and purple lighting,
it is clear that the exploration of life, love and loss
is going to be a work of art.
Emma Dean is nothing if not eclectic, with a distinctive,
sometimes Kate Bush-like sound on show in all sorts of musical
genres throughout the hour long concert. From the hillbilly-like
‘Water Fountain’ by The Tune-Yards, a song built
before audience eyes to the upbeat, rockier ‘Fire
In My Belly’ about loving from a distance and the
touching country ballad sounds of ‘Orange Red’,
every song is as memorable as it is unique.
The highlight, however, comes courtesy
of a stripped back take of Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad
Blood’, featuring performer/choreographer Jamie Kendall
in dance accompaniment. When Dean is joined in voice by
a secret flash mob (members of the Cheep Trill community
choir), it is an unforgettably special moment of pure beauty
to the point of joyful tears. (See Video Clip below.)
Back on piano, Dean soon journeys audiences from the story
of sabotage to some similarly dark places courtesy of the
catchy ‘Little Succubus’, about a night demon
who steals the brains of pious men in their sleep, performed
with musical accompaniment from her brother Tony Dean. Regardless
of content and themes, however, her original songs all showcase
honest lyrics and addictive sounds. Her powerful voice is
striking, particularly in its high vocal register, making
for some sublime moments. Despite being a sold-out show,
the intimate venue allows for display of plenty of personality
in vocals, musicality and between song storytelling, which
is charismatic and engaging in that never-enough type way.
Emma Dean’s impressive vocals
certainly suit the layered tunes, bewitching the room alone
before addition of her violin, keyboard and piano musicianship
as a stunning treat to the senses. Any chance to see the
versatile, multi-talented musician should not be missed,
especially when supported by the incredible musical talents
of Tony Dean and Richard Grantham.
Musical excellence aside, the show also brings with it
an essential message of empowerment, encapsulated in a quote
she shares from Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest
fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not
our darkness that most frightens us.” It is a fitting
reflection with which to leave audiences at this special
gig as she takes some time off to write for a new project.
Video Clip from concert:
In the clip below Emma performs live at The Brisbane Powerhouse,
as part of 'Wonderland', a cover of 'Bad Blood' by Taylor
Swift - featuring musicians Tony Dean and Richard Grantham,
choreographer/dancer Jamie Kendall and the Cheep Trill Choir.
Other video clips on YouTube from this concert include Emma's
Light of Day, Chasing
in My Belly and Time.
Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
Brisbane Powerhouse, Saturday 6 & 9 February
Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust @ MELT Festival http://scenestr.com.au,
posted 9 February 2016
Reviewer: Phoenix Bee
'Ain’t Easy’ to capture the stardust, lustre
and eclectic brilliance of David Bowie: his glam theatrics
were the glitter and sass to his infinite musical finesse.
David Bowie was a boss!
However, Electric Moon’s ‘The Rise And Fall
Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders Of Mars’ tribute
production, directed by James Lees and a stellar line-up
of Brisbane’s musical talent were ‘Heroes’
last Saturday (6 February) at the Brisbane’s Powerhouse.
The cast were magnanimous in their love and reverence of
David Bowie and his iconic alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, blowing
the hearts and minds of fans who packed the theatre to pay
homage, celebrate and farewell our ‘Starman’.
This glam-rock cabaret was a grand collaborative effort,
right down to Brett Harris’ glitter boots! Featuring
an on-stage cast of 20 performers including 8 lead vocalists
and a dynamic array of 12 musicians playing: strings, percussion,
woodwind and rocking lead guitars. The tone was sublimely
illuminated by lighting designer, Andrew Meadows.
The entire ensemble was testimony to the perfectionist
alter-ego within David Bowie: his musical arrangements,
staging, melodics and theatrical concepts were precision
artistry. From beginning to end, Saturday’s production
was a polished showcase of energy, passion and infectious
The wicked band featured guitarists Jeff Lovejoy and Kevin
Haigh; Christopher Dixon on sticks; Andrew Saragossi on
sax, and Silver Sircus band members including director James
Lees: the rhythms maestro!
Saturday’s performance was a cathartic affirmation
of the greatness that was David Bowie. I'm a '70s love-child
who’s only known a life with David Bowie. When I bounced
into being, our timeless shape-shifter was transforming
into glam rocker from a parallel universe: Ziggy Stardust.
My mother sang: “You’d better not mess with
Major Tom”, and immersed me in a diverse diet of Bowie
tunes and alter-egos: ‘Golden Years’.
On Saturday night, I felt blessed, by my Ma’s influence
on my lifetime of David Bowie memories. In 1987, we saw
him together, live, at his Sydney Glass Spider show: he
‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders
Of Mars’ wasn’t initially conceptualised by
director James Lees as a posthumous tribute. David Bowie’s
influence on the collective lives of the performers shone
brightly, with each performer embracing the opportunity
to express their relationship with Bowie.
Among the glitter and glam, David Bowie was avant-garde
whose artistry reflected his intellectual insights of the
human condition. This outstanding Brisbane production, featured
within the MELT Festival: A Celebration of Queer Arts And
Culture, highlighted David Bowie’s gift to us all:
forever a Starman in the Sky, blowin’ our minds.
Featured lead vocalists and their tribute tracks
• ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ and ‘Hang
On To Yourself’: by feisty soul-stress Sahara Beck
• ‘5 years’, ‘Rock N Roll Suicide’
and ‘Ashes To Ashes’: by the versatile Lucinda
• ‘Lady Stardust’: by the flamboyant Sandro
• ‘Soul Love’, ‘The Man Who Sold
The World’ and ‘All The Young Dudes’:
by rocker Brett Harris
• ‘Star’ and 'Suffragette City’:
by hipster Tim Steward strutting his mojo
and ‘Life On Mars’: by the transcendent Emma
• ‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’
and ‘The Jean Genie’: by funkster Dan Hack,
accompanied by Jimi Beavis on blues harp for 'The Jean Genie'
• Last, but by no means least, was Alison St Ledger’s
spellbinding performances of: ‘It Ain't Easy’,
'Space Oddity’ and ‘Heroes’.
in Voice 2015 The Judith Wright
Centre, Brisbane, Saturday 17 October
in Voice 2015, Saturday 17 October 2015 scenestrs
- pop culture and entertainment (scenestr.com.au),posted
19 October 2015
Reviewer & Photograph: Krystie Richardson
".... There were songs I
already loved, like Bjork’s 'Hyperballad'. But Emma
Dean’s interpretation opened up a whole new angle,
making it fresh again and revealing a layer of meaning I
hadn’t considered before...."
With a name like 'Women In Voice', I wasn’t sure
whether to expect musical entertainment or a radical feminist
While it’s definitely female-focused, the purpose
of Women In Voice is not to fight for feminine power but
to celebrate it; which in many ways is far more powerful.
Leading us through the evening was international musical
therapist, Jan Van De Stool. Hailing from the quirky imagination
of Queenie Van De Zandt, Jan had me ugly-laughing to the
point of tears most of the time she was on stage. She taught
us interpretive dance moves, accidentally insulted most
of the cast and crew and offended one touchy audience member
so much he didn’t come back after the interval. She
Over the course of the evening Jan introduced us to Emma
Dean, Carol Lloyd, Alison St Ledger and Yani. Each woman
took a piece of their life and brought it to the stage to
share with us. Their story-telling was punctuated with the
music that meant something to them during those times.
The songs were wild and varied but what was striking about
all of them was the new depth of understanding made possible
by hearing them filtered through another person’s
life. There were songs I already loved, like Bjork’s
'Hyperballad'. But Emma Dean’s interpretation opened
up a whole new angle, making it fresh again and revealing
a layer of meaning I hadn’t considered before.
Then there were songs I would usually flick past if I was
trying to pick a radio station, like 'Calling All Angels'
which was sung by all of the women during Carol Lloyd’s
set. Seeing Carol’s emotion during the song and hearing
the ladies’ rendition, I suddenly saw beauty where
before I had just seen some old rock song.
To have your eyes opened up like that and to be taken along
on such personal journeys with these brave women was a remarkable
Women In Voice perform the Judith Wright Centre
until 24 October.
in Voice 2015, Friday 16 October 2015 XSEntertainment
Reviewer: Xanthe Coward
This is an
extract from a longer review.
from a stint in NYC, Dean’s unique voice and vibe
are stronger than ever...."
Women In Voice (WiV), the fabulously
fun and entertaining, long-running Brisbane institution
returns to the Judy in its 23rd configuration. Its successful
formula this time features Emma Dean, Carol Lloyd, Yani,
Alison St Ledger and Queenie van de Zandt in the guise of
her alter ego, International Music Therapist, Jan van de
....Emma Dean opens the show with a suitably eclectic,
precisely stitched together set, featuring superb arrangements
by Stephen Russell (MD, piano & mandolin) of Tori Amos,
Kate Bush, Fiona Apple and Bjork. She also sings (and drums
with style) a fun, sassy song about a hot knife and pound
of butter, which we first heard in Noosa when we hosted
Dean and Francesca de Valence in an intimate “home”
concert. What is that song called?
Recently returned from a stint in NYC, Dean’s unique
voice and vibe are stronger than ever; she’s delicious
enough to send a shiver down my spine on more than one occasion,
and she’s a clear favourite with the audience on opening
....In each WiV production we enjoy such diverse talent
and personal stories from some of the best artists around.
It’s always a mixed bag so you can’t really
ever lose, and if you take a few friends and book a cabaret
table (the best way to enjoy an evening of cabaret, let’s
face it!), you’ll have loads of fun during and lots
more to discuss after the show.
in Voice 2015, Friday 16 October 2015 the
creative issue (creativedrinks.com.au), posted 17 October
Reviewer: Katherine Sullivan
".... The remarkable Emma
Dean was a highlight as she provided insight into her personality
and musical idols. She sung a beautiful rendition of Bjork’s
Hyperballad, a song about giving parts of yourself away
when you are in a relationship and subsequently learning
more about yourself in return...."
Now in its 23rd production, WIV 2015 is a great night out
with the very best women in the music industry.
From humble beginnings at a quirky, upstairs venue in Brisbane’s
West End, to rubbing shoulders with massive international
productions at QPAC, and a season at Sydney’s Star
City Showroom, Women in Voice (WIV) has an impressive background.
Starting in the early 1990s, a group of enthusiastic women
led by Annie Petersen decided that the women singers of
Brisbane deserved to be heard. Over 20 years later, WIV
has become a successful showcase of female talent that has
gained the attention of some of Australia’s leading
vocalists including Katie Noonan, Carol Burns and Deborah
WIV 2015 is a musical event featuring four vocalists who
each deliver their own funny and heartbreaking stories about
what music means to them. The night began with a comedic
opening by Emcee Queenie van de Zandt’s hilarious
alter ego, International Music Therapist Jan van der Stool.
Zandt sure knew how to work the audience with her side-splitting
jokes and elaborate accent that left everyone in the room
in fits of laughter. The audience were ready to hear some
music and the fabulous leading ladies did not disappoint!
WIV featured the unique Emma Dean who is fresh from her
overseas adventure in New York, rock royalty and WIV favourite
Carol Lloyd, legendary cabaret artist Alison St Ledger and
the sublime world music stylings of Yani. The four soulful
women delivered a wide variety of songs ranging from Kate
Bush to Madness that made the audience cheer and clap from
The remarkable Emma Dean was a highlight as she provided
insight into her personality and musical idols. She sung
a beautiful rendition of Bjork’s Hyperballad, a song
about giving parts of yourself away when you are in a relationship
and subsequently learning more about yourself in return.
Over the years, WIV has gathered a devoted following of
music lovers who attend all the shows no matter where the
venue. The collective encourages young women to follow their
dreams and think creatively in a world that sometimes tries
to squash it. It was a fantastic night out for friends to
drink a glass of wine (or two!) and laugh, cry and fall
in love with these incredible vocalists – one of the
highlight music events of the year.
& The Hungry Truth Feast EP
Launch @ The Old Museum Brisbane, 1 November
& The Hungry Truth 1 November 2014 WordsImagesMusic
(http://wordsimagesmusic.tumblr.com), posted 6 November
Reviewer: Cat Anderson;
Photo: Benjamin Knight
"....These guys are something
else. ...try to describe the amazing performance we witnessed?
Well, how long have you got?... I highly recommend catching
them when next they perform in your neck of the woods."
Emma and the Hungry Truth launched their debut EP “Feast”
at the Old Museum with a fabulous and theatrical performance.
Don’t get me wrong, the face-paint and costumery took
nothing - nothing! - away from the incredible musical talents
of these guys.
The band is fronted by the charismatic Emma Dean, who started
seeking out like-minded musos on her return from New York.
Self-described “musical misfits” they might
be, but they are also undeniably a tight unit performing
richly layered tunes.
These guys really are something else. Many bands have the
same puzzle pieces to work with: cleverly written songs,
well-thought-out arrangements, talented musicians, chemistry,
costumes, a lead singer with stage presence, and unusual
instrumentation (shout out to the Theremin! Yeah!).
But there are none who put these pieces together the way
Emma and the Hungry Truth have. To say they defy description
sounds a little naff, and perhaps lazy, but honestly, to
try to describe the amazing performance we witnessed? Well,
how long have you got? How long would Tumblr let me have…?
Instead of trying, I’ll just say that these guys
were both entertaining and mesmerising, and I highly recommend
catching them when next they perform in your neck of the
and The Hungry Truth The Judith Wright
Centre, Brisbane, 20 March 2014
courtesy Kate Davies @ KD Photography
and The Hungry Truth 20 March 2014 Scene Magazine (scenestr.com.au)
24 March 2014
Reviewer: Majella McMahon
"... (she) pierces your
heart unapologetically. Don’t miss her next time,
you will regret it...."
With flaming red hair and an intimidatingly thorny crown,
Emma Dean was a sight to behold and the impact on the room
was instant. And this before she even opened her mouth.
Once she began her first song, the silence from the crowd
deepened even further, as if scared they might miss even
one nuance of her rolling vocal narrative.
Set up in the middle of a low stage at the Judith Wright
Centre, countless dim lights hanging from the ceiling, there
was an element of cabaret and a feeling of moody intensity.
This was broken however almost instantly, by Dean’s
friendly chatter and cute quips, mostly directed towards
her guitarist. Obviously very comfortable on stage, especially
surrounded by her eclectic band (which included a guitarist,
drummer, cellist, keys and someone playing an interesting
collection of sound effect machines), Dean shared anecdotes
and travel tales between almost every song.
Playing a collection of combustive tracks, Dean alternated
between a throaty sensual sound — almost tribal in
its delivery — to a clear, high, ultra-articulated
vocal and the combination of those created something unlike
anything I’ve heard before. She has always been touted
as original, unique, quirky and unable to be pigeon-holed
and while this is certainly true, it fails to mention the
breathtaking beauty of her voice. Add to this songs with
gut-wrenchingly honest lyrics that trip off the tongue,
as if they can’t wait to be sung, and you have an
unusual package of a performer.
With a nod to her past, Dean chose songs that fitted the
feel of the night perfectly and flipped between styles with
ease. Some light and fun, others melancholy and almost morose,
her range of styles is impressive and gave the show a depth
that I wasn't expecting.
Drawing the set to a close, Dean (who had alternated between
playing guitar [sic - violin] and piano), finished at the
keys. Bathed in a halo of golden light, she sung like it
was her last ever performance and this intensity was irresistible.
Profusely thanking her dedicated fans, she slipped off stage,
only to return almost immediately following demanding encore
It is not just Emma Dean’s vocals that make her so
appealing, but her wildness and complete disregard for convention.
And instead of coming across like a rebellious amateur,
she instead pierces your heart unapologetically. Don’t
miss her next time, you will regret it.
Emma Dean plays various shows throughout April and May.
For her full schedule, check out emmadean.com
Cabaret Festival solo show)
Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre 13, 14 June 2012
Dean - Stripped 13 June 2012 DB Magazine June
27 - July 10 2012 (Issue 548)
Reviewer: David O'Brien
"....The lone story telling traditions of
the roving troubadours of the 16th Century come to life through Dean with singular
heart string pulling intensity."
Pigeon holing Emma Dean as ‘pop-cabaret’ while
innately accurate merely satisfies a commercial world desire
to label and sell. A deeper comprehension of the older,
more complex musical tradition and performance style she
really belongs to, which comes to the fore in ‘Stripped’,
exposes the descriptive ‘pop-cabaret’ for the
trick door it is.
Yes, Dean presents as pixie blonde deeply intense pop;
her songs and arrangements for piano call to mind Kate
Bush and Lena Lovich to name two of many significant female
pop sirens. Yes, Dean is Cabaret; challenging, attacking,
celebrating transcending the mores of society with playfully
deployed dashes of dissonance in chord structure amidst
elegant, beautiful swathes of rolling legato while stepping
beyond the bounds of her vocal range, intensely highlighting
each momentous mood of a song with her whole being, especially
a wondrous, commanding face.
In five scenes, Dean’s ‘Stripped’ takes us through a process
whereby she ‘strips’ back her personality, her music, assisted
by ‘Mary’ the mannequin offering up costumes, abetted in scene
changes by guest performer Emily Davis.
From cabaret pop diva to the clown like society outcast,
Dean brutally, yet with dulcet gentleness pours out a heart
full worth of scorn, vulnerability, icy rage in the service
of uplifting then trashing an audience’s heart through
undeniable emotional truths she voices as one who will
give “my heart, my blood, my bone”. Here’s
the clincher ‘pop-cabaret’ cannot adequately
embrace. It’s as if Dean is channelling Shakespeare’s
wickedly mischievous Puck in one part, his equally wise,
melodious fool Feste in another, an effect brilliantly
supported by Emily Davis’ comic musical wanderings
amongst the audience, ukulele in hand.
The lone story telling traditions of the roving troubadours
of the 16th Century come to life through Dean with singular
heart string pulling intensity.
Dean - Stripped 13 June 2012
Aussie Theatre (aussietheate.com.au), posted 15 June 2012
Reviewer: Mick Searles
Everything in Emma Dean’s career seems to be going
right lately. In 2010 she received The Butterfly Club’s
Under Our Wing award and henceforth she’s been receiving
rave reviews all the way from her home town of Brisbane
to the lights of New York for her recorded music, theatre
and cabaret shows. In fact, the New York Post declared
her “one of the ten artists to watch” just
Dean describes herself as a “pop-cabaret songstress/circus
freak/neo-burlesque anomaly” while reviewers have
compared her to Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Rufus Wainwright,
and she’s supported acts the likes of Amanda Palmer,
Katie Noonan and The Dresden Dolls.
Dean deserves the accolades. Her current cabaret show
Stripped (in The Rolling Stones sense of musical and theatrical
bare essentials) is an energy-packed fare of Weimar-esque
Dean takes us through 5 “scenes” or personalities
with a strong voice as crisp and clean as a clear autumn
evening in Adelaide. Each scene is distinguished with a
costume change and Dean making use of her “Betty
the mannequin” clotheshorse in the middle of the
stage as Adelaide’s own beautifully buxom Emily Davis
sings and moves voluptuously between tables agreeably incorporating
the audience into her act.
Dean and Davis deliver an often comical but always delightful
carnival of the human spirit, simply furnished by Dean
playing piano and Davis strumming guitar. It’s in
the penultimate “scene” when these two combine
on stage that something very special happens – a
rendition of Tori Amos’ ‘Cornflake Girl’ with
Dean playing violin at first subtly and effectively then
passionately as Davis lovingly accompanies on her guitar.
It is a sexy, sensual and climactic rendition. Stripped
deserves more than the two erformances allotted in this
festival. Dean and Davis charm their way through every
moment of the seventy minutes running time, easily confirmed
by the sense of fun this show left with every member of
Boy with Golden Virtues, Emma Dean and Avaberée The
Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, 2
People (theatrepeople.com.au) 5 March 2012
Reviewer: Rachael Dean (no
"...she gracefully contorted piano and voice with a poignancy
that still haunts my melodic memory."
Extract from longer review
Threatening to steal the
limelight was second support act Emma Dean. I could draw
countless comparisons to canonistic artists such as Kate
Bush, but Dean makes her own indelible and unique mark
with the dark melismas of her songs. A vision of darkness
beauty, with a black dress and cock feathers, she gracefully
contorted piano and voice with a poignancy that still
haunts my melodic memory....
Critical Mass (criticalmassblog.net),
posted 5 March 2012
Reviewer: Katherine Cooke
Extract from longer review
Enter stage right after
two very delicious cocktails to the rambunctious Emma
aural and visual delight as always. This was Emma Dean
one voice, one piano, and one guitar—but she managed
to belt out a megamix version of Roxette’s Fading Like
a Flower cross Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance like the
true pop cabaret priestess that she is. All while performing
a kind of acrobalance stunt on a small wooden chair.
4 March 2012
Reviewer: Andy Clark
Tonight’s show is as diverse
and intriguing as any that I’ve seen before...."
Extract from longer review
....I’ve seen Emma Dean
perform about 30 times. Tonight’s show is as diverse
and intriguing as any that I’ve seen before. The
inter-song explanations are both entertaining and personal.
staccato of the opening 2008 song ‘Cocaine’ to
the Grand Piano new song ‘Love Me’, via a
theatrical rendition of Roxette’s “Fading
like a Flower” with
a dash of Lady Gaga, this was another memorable performance,
right up to the concluding number, in which she offers “her
Heart & her Bones & her Blood’ to her friends
in her Last Will and Testament. Emma is not fading like
a flower, but is blossoming more & more....
Contortionist Studios, Brisbane 10, 11 September 2011
News Unlimited (newsunlimited.com.au)
14 September 2011
Reviewer: Courtney Phelps
songs, eccentric costumes, and unique surrounds: Dean’s
performance hits all the right notes."
Extract from longer review
....We were there to witness the versatile musical stylings
of Brisbane artist Emma Dean, who last weekend brought
her solo show Stripped to town for just two nights. Named “one
of ten artists to watch in 2011” by The New York
Post, Dean’s recent involvement in large-scale productions
was this time replaced with the complete opposite, a show
which aims to reveal the neuroses of the cabaret songstress
and strip her craft down to the bare essentials....
.... Finally emerging from behind the red velvet curtain
in a glorious unitard, Dean oozed incredible stage presence
the moment she stepped into the spotlight.
Maybe you saw her back in August, in Zen Zen Zo Physical
Theatre’s Cabaret. But sitting with just the keyboard
and an overdressed mannequin named Scarlet for company,
Stripped was about as far removed from that as you can
get. We soon realised though, sipping red wine within the
delightfully grungy surrounds of the warehouse, this was
more than enough to keep the crowd entranced for a full
Five different acts flowed from the depths of Dean’s
overactive imagination, kicking off with a surprising rendition
of Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompa. The rest of the show
was compiled of original songs from Dean’s extensive
back catalogue, including her best-known Sincerely Fearful,
demonstrating an impressive vocal range and striking knack
Young guns Indigo Keane and James Halloran kept the crowd
distracted between Dean’s brief costume changes,
armed with only a ukulele and, in Halloran’s case,
a charming mesh shirt. Towards the end of the set, the
duo took to the stage with Dean to perform one of Keane’s
original songs, a haunting track that for me was one of
As we left the
surprising warmth of the warehouse, back into the cool
September night air, the trance Dean
put us under was broken. Beautiful songs, eccentric costumes,
and unique surrounds: Dean’s performance hits all
the right notes.
Magazine website 12 September 2011
Reviewer: Alisdair Duncan
has described herself as a ‘ringmaster’ in
the past, and that seems pretty apt, given the ease
with which she whips her crowd’s enthusiasm
Extract from longer review ....Headliner Emma Dean tells us that tonight is all
about stripping her show back, but it’s still quite
a production – the evening is split into five acts,
and during each costume change, a pair of spindly, gothed-out
kids roam the warehouse, playing pop song covers on a ukulele.
Dean has a powerful voice, which she deploys to its full
capabilities, and her show draws as heavily on cabaret
as it does on Amanda Palmer-style theatrics. Her originals
are bracing, but it’s also intriguing to hear her
take a song like Smashing Pumpkins’ Bullet With Butterfly
Wings and twist it around the contours of her Korg keyboard.
Dean has described herself as a ‘ringmaster’ in
the past, and that seems pretty apt, given the ease with
which she whips her crowd’s enthusiasm up.
Zen Zo Physical Theatre's CABARET
Cremorne Theatre QPAC Brisbane 4-20 August 2011
Press 12 March 2012
Cabaret Wins Best Musical 2011 Matilda
courtesy Courier Mail
At an awards
ceremony held at the Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, on
12 March 2012, Zen
Zen Zo's Cabaret won a Matilda Award
Musical, In a newly created category.
Matilda Awards is an annual event that honour and
the Brisbane theatre Industry.
Altogether Cabaret received
four nominations for the 2011 Matilda Awards: Zen
Zen Zo's CabaretBest Musical Sandro
Male Actor in a Leading Role (left
in photo) Emma
Female Actor in a Lead Role Matthew HadgraftBest
Emerging Artist (right in photo)
Absolute Theatre website
(posted 12 August 2011
Reviewer: Eric Scott
Dean was just sensational as the brittle, self destructive
English girl night club singer. She had this underlying sadness
and desperation not usually seen in the role...."
This was the most amazing production of Cabaret I have
ever seen. It stripped the show of its glitzy Liza Minnelli
image and cut right to the soul of the tale.... what power
the show had. I have never been moved close to tears with
the show before, but when Emma Dean who played Sally Bowles,
sang Cabaret, it was spine tingling.
It wasn’t a fun song like it is so often sung, but
a heart rendering confession about her own future; it wasn’t
Elsie’s life she envied, but her death. Dean was
just sensational as the brittle, self destructive English
girl night club singer. She had this underlying sadness
and desperation not usually seen in the role.
It was the same when she sang Maybe This Time in duet
with Matthew Hadgraft as would-be Yankee author Cliff Bradshaw.
There was such power in the emotions of both of them.
But the clever thing about Emma’s interpretation
was the way she changed over the course of the action.
When she opened up with Don’t tell Mama, she was
cheeky, flirtatious good time girl just out for the fun
and her Perfectly Marvellous was very similar, but the
edge had crept into that song....
People (8 August 2011)
Reviewer: Brent Downes
Dean in particular takes the role of Sally Bowles
and makes it totally her own..."
...Zen Zen Zo brings you into the drama of this piece
and does so wonderfully with their delightful and auspiciously
talented leads Emma Dean (Sally Bowles) and Matthew Hadgraft
(Cliff Bradshaw) who deliver their roles with likeable
conviction and wonderful believability. Emma Dean in
particular takes the role of Sally Bowles and makes it
own fusing together, but never directly channeling all
those classic-cum-tragic movie star heroines of yore,
her singing voice is an absolute spectacle and her portrayal
of a much loved classic musical figure is both contemporary
and with all the flavor of a classic....
Stage (7 August 2011)
Reviewer: Kelli Rogers
eccentric Sally Bowles is performed by Emma Dean
who brings bright vocals to the stage and an acting performance
that is lightly sassy. When she holds the spotlight
for the famous number, “Cabaret”, she
sings with resolve to reveal Sally’s emotional
vulnerability and foolhardy determination to remain
Australian Stage website
(7 June 2011)
is the spirit of cabaret, every part of her body
engaged in her music....Take
any chance to see this songstress...."
One short evening with Emma Dean barely
taps the surface of this gorgeous gothic pixie. I left
the Tuxedo Cat feeling intrigued, delighted and with
more than a bit of an artist crush.
Stripped is about removing superfluity, stripping down
to the skeleton of this cabaret songstress’s art.
She is left with a basic stage, a couple of costumes, and
herself, replete with a stunning unitard. No backing band,
no other performers, just her keyboard, body and voice.
And as we discover, absolutely nothing else is needed.
Emma is the spirit of cabaret, every part of her body engaged
in her music. It flows from her mouth and fingertips, ever
morphing to create different characters and sounds, each
song pushing the boundaries of the last. Her eyes enchant
you, and watching her face for a full hour does not allow
a heartbeat of disengagement. Her bare feet tell her stories,
as does her strange way of sitting on a piano stool. Her
energy is joyous, uninhibited and seemingly endless.
She takes us through four scenes from herself and her
imagination, allowing us insight to the neuroses of a cabaret
artist such as herself, leading us through heartbreak and
subsequent heart failures, followed by a short introduction
to collaboration and lastly, an explanation of her decision
to run away to the circus, having found herself a social
For this performance, Emily Davis acted as MC-come-Intermission-Songstress,
providing hilarious ukelele-supported song snippets to
distract us through Emma’s onstage costume changes.
In the collaborative scene, Emily brought out her guitar
and Emma her violin to give us a new and delicious version
of Tori Amos’ Cornflake Girl.
Musically, the show was a compilation of Emma’s
own songs and others, ranging from the opener from the
musical Cabaret, through Willy Wonka’s “Oompa
Loompa” tunes to Smashing Pumpkins. Emma’s
vocal range is impressive, and the timbre of her high notes
bring a beautifully haunting quality to known tunes. She
creates a unique character for every song, using her facial
expressions, hands, arms, feet, and of course, those gorgeous
eyes. Emma is a strikingly versatile and multi-talented
performer, who embellishes her musical craft with a capturing
stage presence and a real talent for creating the characters
to brilliantly tell the stories in her music.
Take any chance to see this songstress. She bravely follows
her artistic instincts, infusing her performances with
her own distinct energy. Here’s hoping she finds
herself back in Adelaide!
ArtBeat website 8 June 2011
delightful hour has ended and it’s gone all too
fast.... We had to shake off the trance of her performance
back into the
colder, wetter, winters night."
On a wet winters night The Tuxedo Cat, with its high vaulted
ceilings, was chilly. I was tweeting this fact when I
received a reply tweet from Emma Dean herself! This was
Ed's Note: I watched this conversation
unfold on Twitter, and must say, it's wonderful to
see this interaction between the artist and the reviewers
prior to the show. Here, they bond over the 'cool'
factor of the room
#Stripped by @emmadean83 for @adlartbeat - it's
just a tad cold in here(@
jdtoo June 5, 2011 at 19:10
@jdtoo @adlartbeat tell me about it! I'm wearing
a unitard brrrrrrrrr *shaking back stage* xxx
EmmaDean83 June 5, 2011 at 19:17
@jdtoo you can borrow my jacket,
for the show, or maybe I'll get you a stout?Oh, @EmmaDean83 wanna
glass of red? @adlartbeat
radionotes June 5, 2011 at 19:19
As Dean is introduced to the stage with its simple set
of a red curtain, a dressmakers dummy, her keyboard, dressed
in her aforementioned black unitard. With no costume distractions,
we are drawn to her beautiful face painted white with 1
eye green and bright red lips. And then she sings.
There’s a little bit of Master of Ceremonies (Joel
Gray) from Cabaret as she headlines the show spectacularly
with a similar enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment. She takes
us through Part 1 while engaging intimately with each audience
member, creating a rapport that helps leads us through
her story in speech, song and movement.
At the first interval, we’re introduced to Emily
Davis, who successfully distracts us, while Emma is changing
into her next costume by incongruously yet humorously singing
the ‘Shoe Shed’ theme on her ukulele!
Part 2 for Dean is all about ‘heartbreak and heart
failure’. It’s evident now we see her stripped
to the bare essentials, vulnerability and strength pouring
from the lyrics in her songs. Her voice is beautiful and
compelling and she has a commanding performance on stage …we
can’t help but be drawn into her stories.
In Part 3, Dean asks Davis to collaborate and we then
have the opportunity to appreciate how versatile they are
as they change instruments to play the violin and guitar
respectively on a version of the Tori Amos Cornflake Girl
song: a great success.
Joel Gray is channelled again in the circus atmosphere
of Part 4, entitled “Dear Mother & Father, I
have become an outcast of society and I don’t know
why, therefore I have decided to run away to the circus.”
The delightful hour has ended and it’s gone all
too fast. Luckily, we are all so appreciative we’re
treated to an encore, but even after that we still want
more. We had to shake off the trance of her performance
to step back into the colder, wetter, winters night.
For more on Emma Dean, take a look at the our interview with her!
Confessional.com 7 June 2011
Associate Editor, Cabaret Confessional
stripped down version of her show puts a solid focus
on Emma Dean’s
unique gift as a singer/songwriter/storyteller. Here’s
hoping she’ll continue to flourish performing solo
and unleash even more of her bewitching charm."
Pop cabaret songstress Emma Dean has created a quirky,
flamboyant world with her ‘imaginary friends’.
In this solo show, she dares to strip down – literally
and figuratively. She strips for costume changes, and it’s
a departure from her usual visual extravaganza with multiple
performers. It’s simply Dean in a black unitard,
Betty the mannequin and occasional appearances by her guest
star Emily Davis. Even the songs have a minimalistic approach
and are laid bare.
Dean’s take on cabaret is light on banter and heavy
on storytelling through her lyrics, and it works. Her distinctive,
soaring voice carries detailed nuances and emotions of
each number. Her original songs, including the US top 15
single “Sincerely Fearful” from her latest
album Dr Dream Imaginary Pop-Cabaret, are honest and imaginative.
They all reflect her rich, magical universe. The deliciously
decadent interpretation of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullets
with Butterfly Wings” is a revelation.
This stripped down version of her show puts a solid focus
on Emma Dean’s unique gift as a singer/songwriter/storyteller.
Here’s hoping she’ll continue to flourish performing
solo and unleash even more of her bewitching charm.
They Can Hold Tour
The Basement Sydney, 14 May 2011
cast - Fronz Arp, Emma, Tony Dean (Photo Courtesy Johnny
Au for Au Review)
[AU] Review Website
- review posted 22 May 2011
this talented musician brings is a theatrical experience
that is quite
in the Australian music industry. Emma Dean is one to
watch for 2011."
Emma Dean brought her
Something They Can Hold tour to The Basement in Sydney.
For those that
don't know Emma's music it can be best described as theatre
mixed with cabaret mixed with pop. But what this multi
talented artist brings to the stage is finely crafted
blends in with heightened sense of drama. This was most
evident with the costumes Emma wore during the performance.
first part of the show she was the amazing bride in a
wedding dress and in the second half of the show she was
in an all black outfit which portrayed half Morticia
Adams and half black widow. Was Emma contrasting the black & white
within her personality? I'll leave that up to the audience
members to decide. But what this talented musician brings
is a theatrical experience that is quite unique in the
Australian music industry. Emma Dean is one to watch
to web review (accessed as at 24 May 2011
Dream & the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret CD Launch
@ The Old Museum Brisbane 26 Nov 2010
Off Magazine Brisbane 1
December 2010 Issue No 1504
as a theatrical experience...Dean's work is actually
scant resources, Dean has created something magical...."
Extract from longer review
....Emma Dean has,
of course, strived to blend the theatrical and musical
in her creative work for the majority of
her solo career. With tonight’s showing, she presents
a performance of such syncretism as to make it almost
impossible to evaluate solely as a musical or a theatrical
experience – though
such unity does come at a price. Taken as a musical experience,
tonight is a somewhat impersonal one. The gifted
songstress delivers pitch-perfect renditions of well-written
like Sincerely Fearful and Waiting Room but is so
finely rehearsed as to surrender the wild humanity
her work so compelling.
Taken as a theatrical experience, however, Dean’s
work is actually quite brilliant. Her performers are precise,
talented and entertaining (Walter Davis-Hart a particular
standout as Dr Dream) and the show’s concept is well-considered
and wonderfully executed – even down to lighting
and costuming. With scant resources, Dean has created
Still, the most magical moment of the night comes
from Dean’s overwhelmed expression of gratitude at the
night’s conclusion – suggesting her work
could benefit immeasurably if she could infuse her
theatrics with a touch more vulnerability and honesty.
Dream & the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret CD Launch
@ The Ravel
20 Nov 2010
(The Insomnia Radio Network) 20
simply, Emma Dean is an entertainment machine....
The crowd reaction
The sell out crowd barely had time to breathe between
Quite simply, Emma Dean is an entertainment machine. She
sings (rather well with a dynamic range), plays the keys
(albeit at times overshadowed by everything else going
on around her) and performs with a full stage of performers
including her 3 imaginary friends. The stage at The Raval
in Sydney is not the biggest so it was crowded with Emma
(with mic stand & keyboard), her 3 imaginary friends & her
drummer (with full drum kit) all competing for room. If
everyone had of stayed where they were, it would not have
been a big hassle. However, one simply does not get onto
stage at this show and expect to remain nailed to the one
spot. That is impossible.
During Erk’s initial album review, he said:
“The music is a lot different to what I am used
to. If you listen at one level, you could be excused for
thinking that the music is merely up-vibe and interesting,
almost as if you are at a circus or a cabaret show. In
my case, it sounds like what I imagine a cabaret show to
be like through watching TV. It could be argued that you
only get half the effect by only listening to the music.
To get the full effect, take a close listen to the music.
If you are not fortunate enough to be in Emma Dean’s
audience, sit back and imagine what it would be like. When
you do listen very closely to the words, you may be surprised
at what you are actually listening to.”
Having now seen the show, it now gives some new perspective
that a listener might not get if they only listened to
the music. There was so much to focus on during the show.
There was the musical side to the performance. Needless
to say, the song Sincerely Fearful was a highlight. The
musical side of the performance was very strong. Some people
may be happy merely listening to the music without the
visuals. The music is easy to listen to live and was not
remarkably different to how it sounded on the album with
the exception of some added sound effects and samples of
Emma singing. What makes this show different, exciting
and breathtaking is the performance element. Albeit that
Erk can only judge based on seeing one show (so far), the
performances by everyone on stage were outstanding and
at times quite physical. Working in a confined space might
not have been ideal – it would be interesting to
see the show on a larger stage. To be able to achieve the
high standard of dance & choreography that was displayed
must have taken a lot of work and practice. It is hard
enough to either sing or play an instrument or dance or
perform – try combining all of those elements at
The crowd reaction was fantastic. The sell out crowd barely
had time to breathe between songs. As soon as one song
had finished, the next one had started. There was no inane
chitchat between the songs as can happen at other gigs – the
emphasis was on the entertainment and keeping the on-stage
levels high throughout the whole set. The venue
was very intimate with many chairs, stools and lounges
filled with people. Many more people (Erk included) were
standing while others were sitting on the floor. No one
seemed to care – they were all enjoying the show.
The biggest shame about the show (apart from the fact that
it ended) is that many people do not know about the talents
of Emma Dean. The intimate surroundings were to her advantage
but she does deserve to be more well known than what she
is at the moment. You will need to keep both ears and eyes
open for her – you will enjoy the journey inside
her head! If you get the chance to see Emma live, go and
do it. (If you do go to one of her shows, dress up in fancy
dress. She likes that.) Otherwise, visit her website and
see some videos and listen to the music. Either way, you
will be glad you did, especially if you like this style
....Emma Dean was today announced winner of the prestigious
Our Wing Award’, Australia’s top award given
to emerging cabaret performers.
Emma is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
whose music and performances delve into the magical world
where live music meets theatre. Emma’s theatrical
fascination led her to the decadent world of cabaret in
...‘The mixture of a well-written storyline and
amazing vocal and musical talent ensured the audience was
throughout the entire performance. Emma Dean's unique cabaret
style is especially unique and a pleasure to watch’ – ninemsn.com.au
‘... curious, funny, astute and above all, weird.
She could well stake a good claim to be the new Millennium’s
Kate Bush with her theatrical approach to music ...’ – Album
Review – allgigs.co.uk (2009).
About the award:
The Butterfly Club’s David Read said “the Under
Our Wing Award is given by the venue to outstanding emerging
cabaret performers who in our opinion deserve much more
recognition than they are currently receiving.”
Emma joins luminaries Tim Minchin (2003), Daniel Maloney
(2004), Reuben Krum (2005), Sammy J (2006), Karin Muiznieks
(2007), Joanne O’Callaghan and James Simpson (2008)
and Tom Dickins (2009)....
mixture of a well-written storyline and
amazing vocal and musical
talent ensured the audience was captivated throughout
performance. Emma Dean's uniquecabaret style is especially
unique and a pleasure to watch...."
The performance of Emma Dean (...Meets Dr Dream) started
off with an eerie opening as Dr Dream set the scene
the audience and prepared them for what was in store -
a dissection of his patient's sanity.
The mixture of a well-written storyline and amazing vocal
and musical talent ensured the audience was captivated throughout
the entire performance. Emma Dean's unique cabaret style
is especially unique and a pleasure to watch.
The show was a more contemporary style of cabaret. At
times Dr Dream's character showed inflections of Liza
in the Broadway movie Cabaret. Dean is well trained vocally
and musically, which shone through her onstage presence
and performance. She also showed exceptional skill in piano,
she was phenomenal to watch, and faultless, as she accompanied
herself while she sang throughout the performance.
The narrative throughout kept the story exciting and ensured
the audience's attention was held right until the very end.
The packed-out performance last weekend is testament to
her cult fans, some who dressed too in cabaret theme. The
audience was left wanting more, and Dean's performance brought
hope that this style of performance might become a regular
fixture in Sydney's entertainment scene.
Dean is a compelling performer, whether as a singer,
musician or actor...."
the music is stunning. Emma Dean and Colin Webber
composed the score
and it conveys mood, tension, beauty and whimsy perfectly.
a stroke of genius for director Lynne Bradley to cast
Emma Dean as
Ariel. Emma plays the grand piano and the violin during
the show, using her violin to add menace when needed.
And her voice is pure magic. She sang some of Ariel's lines,
spoke others, and was captivating throughout. Emma Dean
is a compelling performer, whether as a singer, musician
wove magic throughout the play...''
atmosphere was foggy and mysterious and when Ariel
sing (the glorious and transformative Emma Dean), I knew we
in for a treat. Ariel wove magic throughout the play
creating mayhem and mischief (not only as singer, but also as
musician and clown) delighting us all....
I will remember Ariel’s intensity of voice and
physicality (including playing her violin on the shoulders
of her chorus)...
The Courier Mail, Brisbane
29 June 2009
general, the ensemble delivers with radiant force,
Emma Dean as Ariel, who wrote the pop-infused score,
Life Computer Game CD Launch
Judith Wright Centre 28 Jun 2008
Off, Brisbane, 2-8 August 2008
this performance will be a stepping stone towards
Extract from longer review
....After a quick intermission the sounds
of a computer operating system coming to life can be
as each band member is introduced as a piece of a real
life computer. This opening gambit has the room buzzing,
as Emma Dean triumphantly appears on stage and opens
into the title track from her debut album and the theme
for the night – ‘Real Life Computer Game’.
Performing with a gusto not commonly seen from singer-songwriters
these days, Emma instantly has the crowd plastered with
smiles as the chirpy piano melody and catchy choral
has the entire band bouncing on stage. One of Emma’s
amazing talents is the fact that she can transition
effortlessly between the piano and violin but still maintain
a perfect vocal tone and range, as she proves with tracks
such as ‘Henry’ and current single ‘Cocaine’.
‘Waiting Room’ plays with a Kate Bush feel
while still brushing with pop elements to create a lovely
track, made even lovelier with the addition of an all-male
choir to fill out the chorus lines. The theatre element
is obviously present tonight with the recurring theme
of the Real Life Computer Game adding drama to an already
active performance, but the ever humble Emma makes sure
that she takes the time out to thank all that helped
the album possible, before playing the final track of
the main set, ‘Get What You Paid For’. With
such a standout performance, though, an encore is inevitable,
and she returns to the stage for a heart-wrenching rendition
of ‘Falling Solo’ and a fantastic version
of Silverchair’s ‘Straight Lines’ that
Daniel Johns should be taking note of before his
live butchering of said track. With a lengthy line immediately
winding to the merchandise table for copies of Dean’s
new album, hopefully this performance will be a stepping
stone towards a high-flying career.
Off, Brisbane, 19-25 March 2008
than anything you'll hear on the radio...."
Angie Hart, Emma Dean, Edward Guglielmino
Extract from longer review
....Rapidly rising Brisbane chanteuse Emma Dean... gives
us an exceptional set of solid pop-folk numbers, tonight
playing in stripped-back mode with her and her keys accompanied
by a guitarist whose presence seems unnecessary here tonight
such is the mesmerising quality of the singer herself.
Songs like ‘3 Meals’ and ‘Cocaine’ provide
the bounciest moments while ‘Orange Dress’ (sic-
'Orange Red') and ‘No More Chai Tea’ are
better than anything you’ll hear on the radio....
Off, Brisbane, 13-19 February 2008
Reviewer: Renee Montgomery
gift for performance is clearly on show and watching her
skilfully play violin and sing simultaneously is absolutely
Extract from longer review: Emma Dean / Tara Simmons
...After a quick intermission, the lights dim as Emma
Dean takes the stage with her silky, jazzy vocals and her
attention-commanding scatting. The addition of a string
ensemble for tonight’s show adds to the theatrical
performance of ‘Henry’, and the audience hangs
on every note of Dean’s piano solo. Her gift for
performance is clearly on show and watching her skilfully
play violin and sing simultaneously is absolutely mesmerising.
Following a rousing applause, Dean’s encore begins
with a string arrangement that seems slightly familiar
and has everyone guessing before falling into a dramatic,
riotous rendition of none other than Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’.
It’s a surprising and amusing cover, and the adaptation
is so brilliant you’d hardly recognise the song from
its inane beginnings. It’s hard to tell whether it
was chosen tongue-in-cheek or if Dean genuinely likes the
song, but, as with the rest of her set, it’s delivered
with class and aplomb.
Magazine, Brisbane, 12-18 February 2008
Reviewer: Chad Parkhill
vocal performances match the attitude,
never hitting one note when she can soar up and down
scales to bring a song to a dramatic conclusion..."
Extract from longer review: Emma Dean / Tara Simmons
Dean’s performance could not be further removed
from Simmons’s – where Simmons was restrained
on stage, Dean vamps it up, sweeping on stage in a designer
dress and a mater dolorosa hairdo like some outlandish combination
of Tori Amos and Diamantina Galas. Her vocal performances
match the attitude, never hitting one note when she can soar
up and down arpeggios and scales to bring a song to a dramatic
conclusion, a fact she notes in her song Most Of The Time
(“I know you think I’m over-dramatic”).
Her very apparent talent makes up for the diva quotient as,
with the help of a large string section, she runs through
a swathe of songs – all of which are well-received
by a very supportive crowd. After her final song, the new
single Cocaine, she returns for an encore cover of Avril
Lavigne’s Complicated – a cover that includes
a byzantine pizzicato passage in the first chorus (Complicated,
geddit?) and an melodramatic conclusion which riffs on the
main theme of The Phantom Of The Opera. By rights, it shouldn’t
work – but, damnit, it does. Both Simmons and Dean
are obviously set on promising career trajectories, and it
will be very interesting to see which of these two radically-different
approaches works best in the future.
@ The Troubadour Brisbane 26 July 2007
Off, Brisbane, 1-7 August 2007
" ...depth of her wonderful
playful nature and endearing stage presence knows no end."
Extract from longer review
....With the bulk, wedged in tight, cross-legged with
arses firmly planted on the floor, Emma Dean strolls
onstage and, even with the backing of her own keys and
the beautiful playing of cellist Laura Driver, introduces
her set with the emotive 'End of the Table'. She then
brings on a further three musicians, who provide tasteful
accompaniment on bass, drums, and electric guitar. As
Dean prefaces 'Cocaine' with a brief analogy about an
Internet rumour that portrayed her as a coke addict,
it's clear that the depth of her wonderful playful nature
and endearing stage-presence know no end.
Trading keys for electric violin, Dean dedicates the
touching 'Orange Red' to a precious friend in the audience,
then follows that up by inviting another friend to back
her on glokenspiel for 'Most of the Time'. Further highlights
include 'Real Life Computer Game', a rockabilly cover
of Crowded House's 'Something So Strong', and cutesy
set closer 'Chew Love', at the back end of which her
'Brisbane All-Star Choir' provides rousing support. Dean
returns for a brief, one-song encore of crowd favourite
Off, Brisbane, 18-24 April 2007
charismatic, confident, and engaging."
Extract from longer review:
Emma Dean / Tara Simmons / Scott Spark
Extra! Extra! Read all about it - tonight The Globe shouts
Brisbane to a bout of the finest multi-instrumentalist
and don’t you doubt it....
....Emma Dean has clearly got performing down to a fine
art - she’s effervescent, charismatic, confident,
and engaging. Sliding into a bouncy, melodic tune, Dean
her keyboard with apparent glee. In a similar vein as Regina
Spektor and Tori Amos, Dean’s unorthodox delivery
dramatically skips merrily around her music, surprising
at every turn. It’s little idiosyncrasies such as
this that give an artist their individuality and allure,
which in turn irremovably implants them in the subconscious
of the listener. To that end, Dean is extraordinary.
Dean publicly unveils new tune ‘Most Of The Time’
for the first time, and it deservedly garners a warm response.
Supplanting herself from her keyboard, Dean works a violin
while simultaneously tackling vocals on a cover of Tori
Amos’ ‘Cornflake Girl’ - wowsers! She
finishes with ‘Good Song’, which is dedicated
to Simmons and Spark.
Those unfortunate louts who missed tonight’s performances
will be left to shout and pout like they’ve got
Magazine, Brisbane, 17-23 April 2007
impressive throughout, both in professionalism
Extract from longer review: Emma
Dean / Tara Simmons / Scott Spark
....Final performer Emma Dean struts her stuff with the
confidence of a (by-comparison) seasoned veteran. Backed
guitar-bass-drums, Dean takes the audience through her
impressive catalogue, with the disarming Dresden Dolls-y
spindly creeping towards a crescendo. Impressive throughout,
both in professionalism and performance, it isn’t
until Miss Dean, dressed in a sparkling gown, begins
an electric violin that I properly fall in love. Her rockin’
poppin’ Good Song closes out the night – or
at least it would have, had an encore not been immediately
and enthusiastically demanded.
in Voice 15
Playhouse Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, 18 November 2006
in Voice 15
like a princess...but she's also raw with a great
sense of irony and can morph in a second as she
sings songs based on her princess diary..."
Extract from a longer review
....Each singer creates her own party piece, but they
all step in as backing singers, so it really does seem
a big communal songfest. Some have props or a bit of a
show, others just sing, and what voices - blues, jazz,
folk, pop, enormous variety, power and beauty, and a great
Emma Dean... just sits at the piano. She's no bland Diana
Krall though, singing old standards. She sings mostly
own songs and looks like a princess in white silk with
a tumble of blonde curls cascading down her back, but
also raw with a great sense of irony and can morph in a
second as she sings songs based on her princess diary
all the nasty little girls at school who are also doing
ballet. And when she also plays jazz violin like Stephane
Grapelli and acoustic guitar, the audience is taken on
a pretty wild ride.....
in Voice 15
Reviews (reviews.media-culture.org.au), 9 Dec 2006
clearly feels her music, and the emotion behind
her skilful voice makes for an excellent performance."
Extract from a longer review
....This is a show I look forward to every year. It’s
a sure thing, like a good night out with an old friend
sex with a long term partner. It’s nice and familiar,
sometimes with a few little surprises, and guaranteed
give you a glow before settling in for a good night’s
Next was Emma Dean, who is new to me. She is part of the
new guard of Generation Y performers who are now lining
up to join the A-list of indie artists. Dean writes her
own music, and played one (sic - three) of her own songs,
which must have been good because two days later I can still
hum the chorus. Dean clearly feels her music, and the emotion
behind her skilful voice makes for an excellent performance.
Like many young performers though she wears her influences
on her sleeve, and more than once I heard shades of Kate
Bush and inflections of Missy Higgins. Emma Dean is an interesting
artist though and I am keen to see how she goes with her
in Voice 15
ABC Brisbane (abc.net.au/brisbane/), 27 Nov 2006
Munro-Wallis " Emma Dean’s
striking vocal style was perhaps another contender for a
tag of ‘favourite’ "
Extract from a longer
....Women in Voice has become something of an institution
in Brisbane over the past decade or more. It has grown
fairly humble beginnings into one of the finest showcases
of female vocal talent in the country.
This year’s offering, featuring a highly talented
group of women including Stacey Broughton,
Leah Cotterell, Emma Dean, Christine
Johnston, Kristina Olsen and Megan Sarmardin have continued
a strong tradition of bringing quality
cabaret, song and patter to Brisbane audiences. There
is, quite literally,
in this show for all tastes....
Emma Dean’s striking vocal style was perhaps another
contender for a tag of ‘favourite’....
Dolls support, 15 Sep 2006
The Arena 15 September 2011
Magazine, Brisbane, 20-26 Sep 2006
Pham " ...intense sonic
and mesmerising visual performance piece.".
Extract form a longer review of The Dresden
Dolls / The Red Paintings / Jacob Diefenbach & Emma
Dean With Zen Zen Zo / Jason Webley
... a sassy lady named Amanda Palmer from The Dresden Dolls
wanders on to introduce the next breathtaking act. Local
musicians Jacob Diefenbach & Emma Dean join forces with
the Zen Zen Zo physical theatre company for an intense sonic
and mesmerising visual performance piece....
Magazine, Brisbane, 25-31 July 2006
Dean who is overwhelmingly delightful, showcasing her polished
jazz-pop of varying tempos, tones and themes."
Extract from a longer review of
Emma Dean / Megan Shorey / Chris Pickering at the Spiegeltent,
19 July 2006
....The Spiegeltent has a strange po-mo charm, a hybrid
of vaudeville, saloon and yuppie wine bar. It's all very
ordered and organised,
a kindly woman in a box-office, a smiling costumed doorman,
staff at every turn and a ticketing system that separates
the evenings performers into groups which I choose tastefully
First on my list is Emma Dean who is overwhelmingly delightful,
showcasing her polished jazz-pop of varying tempos, tones
and themes. Childhood tales of her bum being too big for
ballet and of loving good songwriters have just the right
balance of anecdotal charm and saccharine break-up melancholy.
It's perfect and it will not be long before she has generated
the same buzz as her back-up singer this evening, Kate Miller-Heidke....