Melbourne audiences are in for a treat this winter.

The Burlesque Hour is back and this time it’s bringing some of its famous friends along for the ride.

The brainchild of award-winning creative team Finucane & Smith, the on-stage extravaganza is a homage to the city of Melbourne and showcases some of its finest musicians and cabaret performers.

One of those is veteran Aussie singer-songwriter Deborah Conway, who will join the cast of The Burlesque Hour Loves Melbourne for a limited season.
Conway will channel the illustrious Shirley Bassey to perform one of the greatest showstopper songs of all time, Goldfinger.

“I’d done that Shirley Bassey song years and years ago, and [director and performance artist Moira Finucane] is very fond of it, so there were a couple of things she asked me to do she felt would work in the show, and Goldfinger was one of them,” Conway told the Star Observer.

The Burlesque Hour, which premiered in Melbourne seven years ago, is certainly an eye-opener. Part burlesque, part circus, part song, dance and performance art, the show is a smorgasbord of the weird and wonderful.

Behind the madness is Finucane — best known for her alternative cabaret and Dairy Queen, surely one of the most ferocious cabaret characters to take to the stage — and theatre director, partner Jackie Smith.

Beckoning Melbourne audiences to enter Finucane’s world of sin, Conway will perform three numbers in a jaw-dropping sequined costume, befitting a sparkling Goldfinger rendition.

“I haven’t seen [the outfit] so I’m looking forward to it,” Conway said.

“I saw La Boheme not that long ago and I was riveted by the gold sequined frock one of the heroines wore … so hopefully it’ll be good.”

The seasoned performer is certainly not shy of dressing up for the occasion. Those who attended the 2010 ChillOut Festival will remember Conway donned a gorgeous ’50s sundress when she covered some Patsy Cline classics.

“I think I like to be playful,” Conway said.

“One doesn’t get the opportunity to dress up that often, so you know, it’s always kind of fun.”

Dressing for the occasion, Conway said, was instilled in her early on when she hung out with textile designer Linda Jackson, of fashion label Flamingo Park fame.

“I used to work for Linda Jackson, many, many moons ago,” Conway said.

“She used to like to dress me up and I’d make cups of tea and do other strange and wonderful things I won’t go into now. I’ll let your imagination run wild!

“She instilled in me that idea that dressing up is not something you have to wait for a special occasion for, which I think is nice.”

Conway confessed she is plagued, as we all are when the temperature drops, by the dreaded ‘winter coat’.

“We’ll see how we go. I haven’t tried on the frock yet. Of course, it is winter and I’m watching MasterChef and eating huge desserts,” she said with a laugh.

“I have no idea what the consequences will be — it could be diabolical.”

Conway will join other cabaret icons including Rhonda Burchmore, Meow Meow, Finucane, Constantina Bush and the Bushettes and Kitten Ko until the show’s end on August 14.

Phillip Adams’ BalletLab, circus queens Sosina Wogayehu and Maude Davey and comedy rock band Die Roten Punkte will also appear during the season.

Next on the agenda for Conway is the Queensland Music Festival, of which she is artistic director.

The festival, due to start on July 15, is set to feature a huge range of events including a project called Drag Queensland which involves monologues from Brisbane drag queens over music.

“My career has indicated I’m fairly restless as a musical soul and I’ve made a broad range of records over the years,” Conway said of her involvement with the different projects.

“It’s always something I’ve enjoyed and I love the collaboration between many different things, I like the contrast.”

Conway will perform at The Burlesque Hour Loves Melbourne from June 23 – 26 at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane. Tickets $45/$55. Visit the venue website for performance listings.

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