The Courier-Mail

Festival best gig in town, bar none

- BELINDA SEENEY

NOT since Tom Cruise shook and stirred on the silver screen have there been cocktail makers with such panache.

Quartet the Swizzle Boys are part bartender, part performer and all showmen playing starring roles in Brisbane Festival’s late night Spiegelten­t show, Club Swizzle.

The cheeky cabaret by the creators of La Soiree, which sold out its two Brisbane Festival seasons in 2012 and 2013, is one of more than a dozen shows spotlighte­d in the festival’s opening weekend.

San Francisco performer Joren Dawson mesmerised festival-goers last year with his aerial antics in family hit Soap, and now he is back in Brisbane in the adults-only cabaret.

“We pretty much start dressed as bartenders,” Daw- son, 24, said. “I like to mess with the idea of people not quite knowing what they’re seeing when they walk in. There’s no obvious stage, just this great, old-world bar so people mingle before the show and we serve them drinks.”

Showgoers would be wise to tip the bartenders as Dawson, along with Tom Flanagan, Ben Lewis and DJ Garner, are responsibl­e for deciding who gets front row seats. Then, when the cabaret-circus-burlesque hybrid begins, the shirts come off and the show goes on.

By contrast, Belgium-based burlesque artist Laurie Hagen starts out shirtless before per-

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