gig reviews

Recipient of the Under Our Wing 2010 Cabaret Award

Gig Reviews are listed in chronological order...
2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006

2018 Gig Reviews
Broken 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

" 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."

Read the full online review here (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."

Read the full online review here (accessible as at 13Aug18), posted 11 August 2018
Reviewer: India Greenland (Review 1)

Reviewer: Eleanor Gunn (Review 2)

Broken Romantics is one of edfringereview's editors' picks.

Review 1:
"....'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."

Review 2:
"....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?"

Read the full online reviews here (accessible as at 13Aug18, posted 11 August 2018
Reviewer: AmiespudgeTaylor


"....From even the first song, the whiplash of tone was pleasingly romantic: heartbreaking and heartwarming and, importantly, fun...."

Read the 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...."

Read the full online review here (accessible as at 13Aug18), 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 unicorn too!”

Read the full online review here (accessible as at 6Aug18)

Go to Top

Broken Romantics: A Vicious Song-Cycle (Cabaret)
House Concert, Brisbane, Friday 16 February 2018

Cabaret - Broken Romantics: A Vicious Song-Cycle, Friday 16 February 2018
Note: This cabaret is now titled Broken Romantics: A Unicorn's Quest for Love.

The Creative Issue (, Posted 26 February 2018
Reviewer: Kayla Wratten

Emma Dean: the Broken, Romantic Unicorn

“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 house production.

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 head…
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- beautiful.

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.

Link to online review (accessible as at 27Feb18)


Go to Top

2016 Gig Reviews
Emma Dean in Concert
Brisbane Powerhouse,
Visy Theatre, Saturday 3 December 2017

Emma Dean in Concert, Saturday 3 December 2016
Blue Curtains Brisbane (, Posted 9 December 2016
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.

Link to online review (accessible as at 26Jan17)
Photos and video clips courtesy KD Photography (Kate Davies)

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 original compositions: Light of Day, Chasing Stars, Fire in My Belly and Time.


The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
Brisbane Powerhouse,
Saturday 6 & 9 February 2016

Image © Sam Scoufos for Compadre Picture Co

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust @ MELT Festival, 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 performances!

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 was epic!

‘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 Shaw
• ‘Lady Stardust’: by the flamboyant Sandro Colarelli
• ‘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
‘Starman’ and ‘Life On Mars’: by the transcendent Emma Dean
• ‘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’.

link to online review (accessible as at 17Feb16)

Go to Top

2015 Gig Reviews
Women in Voice 2015
The Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, Saturday 17 October 2015

Women in Voice 2015, Saturday 17 October 2015
scenestrs - pop culture and entertainment (,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 rally.

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 was brilliant.

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 experience.

Women In Voice perform the Judith Wright Centre until 24 October.

link to online review (accessible as at 22Oct15)

Go to Top


Women in Voice 2015, Friday 16 October 2015
XSEntertainment (/

Reviewer: Xanthe Coward

This is an extract from a longer review.

"....Recently returned 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 Stool....

....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 night....

....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.

link to online full review (accessibel as at 11Nov15)

Go to Top


Women in Voice 2015, Friday 16 October 2015
the creative issue (, posted 17 October 2015)

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 Conway.

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 their seats.

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.

link to online review (accessible as at 22Oct15)

Go to Top

2014 Gig Reviews
Emma & The Hungry Truth
Feast EP Launch @ The Old Museum Brisbane, 1 November 2014

Emma & The Hungry Truth 1 November 2014
WordsImagesMusic (, posted 6 November 2014

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 woods.

link to online review (accessible as at 9Nov14)

Emma and The Hungry Truth
The Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, 20 March 2014

Photo courtesy Kate Davies @ KD Photography

Emma and The Hungry Truth 20 March 2014
Scene Magazine ( 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 requests.

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

link to online review (accessible as at 15Apr14)

Jump to video clips of show

Go to Top

2012 Gig Reviews
"Stripped" (Adelaide Cabaret Festival solo show)
Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre 13, 14 June 2012

Emma 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.

link to db magazine


Emma Dean - Stripped 13 June 2012
Aussie Theatre (, 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 last year.

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 entertainment.

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 its audience.

link to online review (accesible as at 16Jun12)

Jump to more Stripped reviews (Brisbane show)

Go to Top

Ghost Boy with Golden Virtues, Emma Dean and Avaberée
The Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, 2 March 2012

Photo: Andy Clark

Theatre People ( 5 March 2012
Reviewer: Rachael Dean
(no relation)

"...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 and beauty, with a black dress and cock feathers, she gracefully contorted piano and voice with a poignancy that still haunts my melodic memory....

Link to online review


Critical Mass (, posted 5 March 2012
Reviewer: Katherine Cooke

"....Talented much?"

Extract from longer review
Enter stage right after two very delicious cocktails to the rambunctious Emma Dean. An aural and visual delight as always. This was Emma Dean unplugged—just 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. Talented much?

link to online review


XS Entertainment ( 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. From the 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....

Link to online review

Go to Top

2011 Gig Reviews
"Stripped" (solo show)
Contortionist Studios, Brisbane 10, 11 September 2011

Photo: Kram

News Unlimited ( 14 September 2011
Reviewer: Courtney Phelps

"....Beautiful 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 hour.

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 for theatricality.

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 the standouts.

As we left the surprising warmth of the warehouse, back into the cool September night air, the trance Dean had put us under was broken. Beautiful songs, eccentric costumes, and unique surrounds: Dean’s performance hits all the right notes.

link to online review (accessible as at 20Sep11)


Rave Magazine website 12 September 2011
Reviewer: Alisdair Duncan

"....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."

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.

link to online review (accessible as at 14Sept11)
Jump to more Stripped reviews (Adelaide 2011 show)

Go to Top


Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre's CABARET
Cremorne Theatre QPAC Brisbane 4-20 August 2011

Stop Press 12 March 2012
Cabaret Wins Best Musical 2011 Matilda Award

photo 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 for Best Musical, In a newly created category.

The Matilda Awards is an annual event that honour and celebrate the achievements of the Brisbane theatre Industry.

Altogether Cabaret received four nominations for the 2011 Matilda Awards:
Zen Zen Zo's Cabaret Best Musical
Sandro Colarelli Best Male Actor in a Leading Role (left in photo)
Emma Dean Best Female Actor in a Lead Role
Matthew Hadgraft Best Emerging Artist (right in photo)

Emma performed Cabaret at the Awards ceremony.

All nominees and winners are listed on the Matilda Awards website.

Reviews related to Emma's performance in Cabaret are reproduced below.

Extracts from longer reviews of Cabaret - Cabaret Under a Black Cloud (13 August 2011)
Reviewer: Elizabeth Navratil

....Emma Dean as Sally Bowles blew me away with her raw gutsy rendition of the title song Cabaret....

link to website review


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....

link to website review


Theatre People (8 August 2011)
Reviewer: Brent Downes

"....Emma 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 totally her 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....

link to website review


Australian Stage (7 August 2011)
Reviewer: Kelli Rogers

....The 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 performing....

link to website review

Go to Top


"Stripped" (solo show)
2011 Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival, Tuxedo Cat, 5 June 2011

Stripped (solo show)
Australian Stage website (7 June 2011)
Reviewer:Joanna Bowen

"....Emma 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 outcast.

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!

link to web review (accessible as at 14Jun11)

Stripped (solo show)
Adelaide ArtBeat website 8 June 2011
Jane Durbridge

"The delightful hour has ended and it’s gone all too fast.... We had to shake off the trance of her performance to step 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 going to be fun.


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 (@ Tuxedo Cat)
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!

link to web review (accessible as at 10Jun11

Stripped (solo show)
Cabaret 7 June 2011
Lena Nobuhara Associate Editor, Cabaret Confessional

"...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."

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.

link to web review (accessible as at 10Jun11)

Go to Top


Something They Can Hold Tour
The Basement Sydney, 14 May 2011

Show cast - Fronz Arp, Emma, Tony Dean (Photo Courtesy Johnny Au for Au Review)

The [AU] Review Website - review posted 22 May 2011
Reviewer: Johnny Au

"...what this talented musician brings is a theatrical experience that is quite unique 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 songs which blends in with heightened sense of drama. This was most evident with the costumes Emma wore during the performance. For the first part of the show she was the amazing bride in a wedding dress and in the second half of the show she was dressed 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 for 2011.

link to web review (accessed as at 24 May 2011

Go to Top

2010 Gig Reviews

Dr Dream & the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret CD Launch
@ The Old Museum Brisbane 26 Nov 2010

Time Off Magazine Brisbane 1 December 2010 Issue No 1504
Reviewer: Matt O'Neill

"Taken as a theatrical experience...Dean's work is actually quite brilliant....With 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, Dean’s performance tonight is a somewhat impersonal one. The gifted songstress delivers pitch-perfect renditions of well-written numbers like Sincerely Fearful and Waiting Room but is so finely rehearsed as to surrender the wild humanity that makes 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 something magical.

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.

link to web version of review (accessible as at 7Dec10)

Go to Top


Dr Dream & the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret CD Launch
@ The Ravel Sydney 20 Nov 2010 (The Insomnia Radio Network) 20 November 2010
Reviewer: ERK

"....Quite simply, Emma Dean is an entertainment machine.... The crowd reaction was fantastic. The sell out crowd barely had time to breathe between songs...."

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 once!

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 energy 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 of music!

link to review site (accessible as at 23Nov10)

Go to Top

Recipient The Butterfly Club's Under Our Wing 2010 Award

Link to Broadway World 5Aug10 news item (accessible link as at 10Nov10)

Extract from The Butterfly Club Media Release

....Emma Dean was today announced winner of the prestigious annual ‘Under 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 early 2009....

...‘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’ – (2010)

‘... 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 – (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)....

Go to Top

Emma Dean (...Meets Dr Dream)
@ the Raval, Sydney, 1st May 2010 (NineMSN - review posted 10 May 2010)
Reviewer: Elise Vout

"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 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 for 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 Minnelli 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.

Go to Top

2009 Gig Reviews

Zen Zen Zo's The Tempest
@ Old Museum Bld, Brisbane 27 June 2009

Extracts from longer reviews 29 June2009
Reviewer: Katherine Lyall-Watson

....Emma 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.

.What 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 or actor.... 29 June2009
Reviewer: Margi Brown Ash

''...Ariel wove magic throughout the play...''

...The atmosphere was foggy and mysterious and when Ariel started to sing (the glorious and transformative Emma Dean), I knew we were in for a treat. Ariel wove magic throughout the play creating mayhem and mischief (not only as singer, but also as magician, 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
Reviewer: Gillian Bramley-Moore

....In general, the ensemble delivers with radiant force, but singer-songwriter Emma Dean as Ariel, who wrote the pop-infused score, is superb....

Go to Top

2008 Gig Reviews

Real Life Computer Game CD Launch
The Judith Wright Centre 28 Jun 2008

Time Off, Brisbane, 2-8 August 2008
Reviewer: Mark Beresford

"...hopefully this performance will be a stepping stone towards a high-flying career."

Extract from longer review

....After a quick intermission the sounds of a computer operating system coming to life can be heard, 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 straight 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 riff has the entire band bouncing on stage. One of Emma’s amazing talents is the fact that she can transition so 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 make 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 next 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.

Go to Top


: Live @ The Troubadour, Brisbane 15 March 2008

Time Off, Brisbane, 19-25 March 2008
Sharon Eggleston

" ...better 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....

Go to Top


Live @ The Judith Wright Centre 8 February 2008

Time Off, Brisbane, 13-19 February 2008
Reviewer: Renee Montgomery

"....Her gift for performance is clearly on show and watching her skilfully play violin and sing simultaneously is absolutely mesmerising...."

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.


Rave Magazine, Brisbane, 12-18 February 2008
Reviewer: Chad Parkhill

"....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..."

Extract from longer review: Emma Dean / Tara Simmons

....Emma 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.

2007 Gigs Reviews

Live @ The Troubadour Brisbane 26 July 2007

Time Off, Brisbane, 1-7 August 2007
Reviewer:Vincent Gambino

" ...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 'Good Song'.

Go to Top


Live @ The Globe 12 April 2007

Photo: Justin Edwards

Time Off, Brisbane, 18-24 April 2007
Miyamoto Musashi

" ...effervescent, 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 singer-songwriters, 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 slaps 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 gout.

Complete Time Off review here.

Go to Top


Rave Magazine, Brisbane, 17-23 April 2007
Reviewer: Sebastian Hayes

" ... impressive throughout, both in professionalism and performance..."

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 by standard guitar-bass-drums, Dean takes the audience through her impressive catalogue, with the disarming Dresden Dolls-y Three Meals spindly creeping towards a crescendo. Impressive throughout, both in professionalism and performance, it isn’t until Miss Dean, dressed in a sparkling gown, begins wielding 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.

Complete Rave Magazine review here.

Go to Top

2006 Gig Reviews

Women in Voice 15
Playhouse Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, 18 November 2006

Women in Voice 15 (Nov/Dec 2006)

Reviewer: Barbara Garlick

"...looks 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 like a big communal songfest. Some have props or a bit of a light show, others just sing, and what voices - blues, jazz, folk, pop, enormous variety, power and beauty, and a great line of comedy.

Emma Dean... just sits at the piano. She's no bland Diana Krall though, singing old standards. She sings mostly her own songs and looks like a princess in white silk with a tumble of blonde curls cascading down her back, 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 into 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.....

Women in Voice 15
M/C Reviews (, 9 Dec 2006

Reviewer: Carolyn Hughes

" Dean 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 or sex with a long term partner. It’s nice and familiar, sometimes with a few little surprises, and guaranteed to give you a glow before settling in for a good night’s sleep.

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 career....


Women in Voice 15
612 ABC Brisbane (, 27 Nov 2006
Nigel Munro-Wallis

" Emma Dean’s striking vocal style was perhaps another contender for a tag of ‘favourite’ "

Extract from a longer review.

....Women in Voice has become something of an institution in Brisbane over the past decade or more. It has grown from 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, something in this show for all tastes....

.... Emma Dean’s striking vocal style was perhaps another contender for a tag of ‘favourite’....

Go to Top


Dresden Dolls support, 15 Sep 2006
The Arena 15 September 2011

Rave Magazine, Brisbane, 20-26 Sep 2006
Reviewer: Jade 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....

Go to Top


Live @ at The Spiegeltent Brisbane 19 July 2006

Rave Magazine, Brisbane, 25-31 July 2006
Reviewer: The Sockmonkey

"Emma 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, Brisbane 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 to ignore.

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....

Go to Top


| © Emma Dean |