Sizzling Sensational Soirée
Home grown legend Brett Haylock ran away to join the circus, and ten years later he’s still living the dream.
It all started back in 2000 when Brett Haylock, then the manager of the Norwood Concert Hall, discovered the Spiegeltent on its first visit to Adelaide. It was love at first sight, and when an offer came to run away and join the circus, he did just that. With his cheeky grin, sparkling personality and jauntily-perched fedora, he quickly became Mein Host, and in 2004 was a party to the incredible La Clique, the unique late night cabaret that took a motley crew quite literally around the world, London, Paris, New York, you name it. He may smoke Gauloises, but he still calls Australia home.
“Not bad for a boy from Moonta,” Brett says with a laugh. He’s in Sydney, where La Soirée is in the process of breaking box-office records in its first Australia run. “It’s the natural successor of La Clique,” Brett explains, “We toured all over the world, and when the opportunity came up to restructure the business we chose to rebrand, and La Soirée was the result. It’s designed from the ground up as an international touring show, and we’ve certainly lifted our game. We’re off to Hamburg in a month or so, then Montreal, then Chicago. We were supposed to go to Moscow, but it’s a bit unsettled there so we’ll leave that one for a bit!”
Like its predecessor, La Soirée is also designed to have its home in a circular tent. “Doing it in the round is the best fit,” Brett agrees, “but the joy of the show is that it actually fits anywhere. In Adelaide we’re in the Idolize Spiegeltent, which we’ve only visited once before, in Dublin I think it was, and it’s a great venue, very different from the Famous Spiegeltent which has been our home for years. The Idolize is ornate and plush, and it’ll be great.”
The old team are still there. “We’ve had a fantastic core of artists for years,” he continues, “and they’re always coming up with a new twist. And the acts change from season to season, or even during the season. In Adelaide we’ll have the gorgeous David O’Mer, the original boy in the bath, and the hunky little English Gents who’ve put together a completely new routine for Australia, and there’s Captain Frodo and the hit of the Adelaide Fringe in 2011, Le Gateau Chocolat. But there’s always a new act just waiting to be discovered, and that’s what makes Adelaide so special. It’s the largest Fringe in the world after Edinburgh, and it’s an incredible melting pot, and we can’t wait to get there.”
It’s not a bad life for a boy from the bush. “Discovering the Spiegeltent was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Brett agrees, “I’d grown up in the country and was really enjoying my work in Adelaide, where I was doing venues at the Norwood Concert Hall. But when I first saw the tent, I got a rush of blood to the head. I more or less forced myself on them, it’s probably fair to say, and then when I got a chance to join the team I jumped at it.” And in just a few years, La Clique was born. “It was a big project, and a co-operative effort, and it’s a matter of pride to me that most of the initial impetus came from Australians who are now working on the global scene. We came up with a good idea, then we got just the right director, a terrific guy from Berlin, Markus Pabst, who’s probably one of the best physical directors in Europe. Then we had to find the acts, which involved countless late nights and early mornings in some of the most bizarre places. But I guess if you’ve grown up with Mars, you’re prepared for most things!”
La Soirée opened in London in October 2010. “It was quite a while in the planning,” Brett explains, “and it wasn’t a matter of simply retitling the previous show. We needed to make it better for touring, and we needed to look at new acts. We’ve got around twenty five acts on the books that play in various parts of the world depending where we are and who’s available.” And the success keeps on keeping on. “The opening in London was fantastic,” he says, “nearly five months of full houses. Then we went to Scandinavia, to Sweden and Denmark, and back to London for another season, then we had a few days off at Christmas and headed for Sydney, then Adelaide.” And as ever, Brett will be at the door. “I love it,” he says, “you get to meet fantastic people every day, and I’ve made friends all over the world. But it’ll be great to see some of my very best friends in Adelaide, and I hope I’ll get a chance to see them outside La Soirée.”
La Soirée plays in the Idolize Spiegeltent from March 14-18. Just eight performances, and a dead cert sell-out, so book early at Fringetix, 1300 FRINGE or on-line at adelaidefringe.com.au