Melissa Langton and Mark Jones love the creative freedom of cabaret.

""

It is the creative freedom cabaret offers that first attracted performers Melissa Langton and Mark Jones.

‘It’s the chance to make something that's tailored specifically for our talents and for our audience. We get to have a lot more fun that way because we get to not do any of the things that we're no good at, and make the most of the things that we are.’

Luckily, the couple are great at lots of things. Melissa has had long experience in musical theatre, acting, singing and dancing in productions such as Les Misérables, Pirates of Penzance and Jesus Christ Superstar. Mark is a pianist, singer and actor, and has accompanied seasoned performers, including Tony Barber.

‘Tony was such a great storyteller, so it was like a masterclass. I just got to sit at the piano and admire his skill as a showman.

‘By the time I started to work with Melissa, I was ready to elbow my way into the show.’

Melissa says being able to include banter with the audience is refreshing change from the unyielding structure of other styles of entertainment. ‘Music theatre like Les Mis’ has a lot of constraints. You literally go in and do whatever you're told to do, you're kind of a cog in a big machine.

‘I love the fact that I feel comfortable enough to just to get out there and say hello to the audience and talk to them like they're right next to us, rather than making them feel like they're just watching art.’

‘Yeah, coz they're not doing that,’ Mark quips.

The couple have been involved in many Victorian Seniors Festivals, and say cabaret particularly appeals to older people.

‘We're doing a lot of theme shows, like 60s or 70s shows, and people really enjoy the nostalgic element,’ Melissa says.

‘They like that we're a bit funny too. Often, we'll perform for 10 minutes and then tell one a crass joke and that's all they'll talk about when they're coming out to buy a CD. “Oh my God. That joke was amazing. Thank you so much.”

‘It is gratifying — and it helps move the merchandise too,’ Mark jokes.

Watch Melissa and Mark's 2020 Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance.