Ayers House Museum
Until 20 Feb 2021

Review by Lance Jones

The lights dim, the audience is hushed. The perfect joinery of The Ballroom at Ayers House captures a mood of stately grandeur. The enormous doors open, and in walk two confident, well postured young men in smart suits striding purposely to the stage. So begins a night of expectation that was mostly fulfilled. Welcome to A Classical Cabaret, showcasing the emerging talent of Blake Ascione, accompanied by the very capable Simon Pazos on piano.

Adelaide has seen a lot of Blake, but never quite like this. The graduate of Elder Conservatorium of Music has spent the last few years doing the musical theatre rounds. This time, though, his tall lean frame stood before us in an imposing and somewhat regal manner, causing the audience to expect something impressive.

Then he began to sing in that wonderfully rich Bass/Baritone voice, and they weren’t disappointed. It was just Blake and Simon, both showcasing the artistry tempered by their home-grown music degrees earned just across North Terrace at ‘The Con’. That opening number should have made every Adelaidean proud of the emerging talent on stage before them.

Blake’s rapport with the audience was nurtured through telling the story of his musical development, starting from his predominantly ego-driven teens to the present day. Granted, the story is still in its early stages, and there is still much to learn, but tonight, it was a great start. The evening took us through opera, musical theatre and even some solo guitar where Simon sat back away from the keyboard and enjoyed some fine wine while Blake accompanied himself singing a more modern offering. The wheels fell off this part ever so slightly as Blake messed up the higher falsetto notes, but it soon got back on track when he reverted to his comfortable and well-trained range. A highlight of the evening was Blake singing a moving French piece that was soulful but beautiful to listen to. Another highlight was when he flirted with an elderly lady in the front row, singing love lyrics to her. It was very sweet, and tastefully respectful, albeit somewhat cheeky. It went down well with everyone.

Blake Ascione is part of the latest crop of enormously talented and charming young performers that are gracing Adelaide stages this Fringe. His performance wasn’t perfect, yet it was impressive and full of promise. He gave the audience a graceful and elegant evening of fine music delivered by an obviously trained yet still somewhat raw and unharnessed talent. His show and the story he tells us is delightful and endearing. We are fortunate to be able to watch him as he grows into a significant talent.

We have not seen the last of Blake, and that shows us a glimpse of a future we can all look forward to.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)