In Tails with David Hobson and Colin Lane

David Hobson and Colin Lane
David Hobson and Colin Lane

Best known as one half of the comic duo Lano and Woodley, comedy veteran Colin Lane along with composer, divine opera singer  and longtime best friend David Hobson tested the waters of each others professions to hilarious results in their show In Tails.

Stepping out from the shadows dressed to the nines in a black tailcoat, Lane greeted the audience with good news and bad news. The good news was that the audience was there but the bad news was, David Hobson had gotten ‘lost’ on his way to the show. Apparently he was unfamiliar with performing in the Banquet Room as opposed to the large and spacious Festival Theatre. That’s Showbiz!

As the show awaited the appearance of Hobson, Lane introduced pianist David Cameron who would accompany the pair for the duration of the show. The audience greeted Cameron with an enthusiastic round of applause to which Lane joked he hadn’t played anything yet so the audience should just give him a single clap.

Introducing himself, Lane expressed his love and appreciation of the opera and Italy, specifically the Italian language, with one of his favourite Italian words being, ‘flat white’.

As Lane began singing opera, we instantly knew it was to good to be true, as Hobson finally emerged after the song had finished, claiming Lane had just insulted the fraternity of opera by his lack of bowing skills.

According to Hobson, world famous tenor Plácido Domingo, (the Paul Keating of opera) once had an 80 minute standing ovation because his performance was so incredible. I made a mental note to YouTube this when I had a spare hour.

Hobson then showed Lane the correct way to bow by acknowledging all sections of the crowd, particularly those in A Reserve seats. Lane then demonstrated his preferred method of bowing to laughter and the duo then joked they would not be switching professions tonight and it was just a publicity angle to draw in audiences.

After Lane made a well timed quip about former comedic partner Frank Woodley, triggering the loudest laughter thus far, the pair sang an enthusiastic and uplifting version of ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat,‘ from the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. 

During the show, the funnyman and the tenor discussed their friendship heavily, which is now in its 25th year. Hobson explained how he has always been such a fan of Lane’s work. Lane tried to return the compliment but lacked sincerity (comedically of course). As the premise of the show stated, both performers wanted to learn more about the others profession but maintained their field was an “intricate and innate art form which takes years, perhaps a lifetime to perfect”.

Lane explained as a comedian you abuse yourself and others while Hobson maintained as an opera singer you must treat your body like a temple and be self absorbed. “Comedy is not subsidised,” joked Lane after learning the price of admission for an A Reserve ticket to a performance at the Sydney Opera house on a weeknight.

After a rendition of ‘One Hippopotami‘, originally by Alan Sherman, Hobson went on to deliver a transfixing performance of “La donna è mobile” from the Italian opera Rigoletto. “So in Love” from the musical, Kiss Me Kate was also a lovely familiar addition to the show.

As Lane left Hobson to ‘fill’ for a few minutes while he organised something backstage, Hobson tok over at the piano to give an intense and humorous homage to Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears in Dudley Moore’s opera cover of the nursery rhyme, ‘Little Miss Muffet’.

Lane inquired several times throughout the show about the possibility of performing the baritone part in the ‘Pearl Fishers Duet,’ (Au fond du temple saint) which is one of the most recognised numbers in Western Opera. Lane expressed his desire to sing the duet with Hobson, taking over from the incredible Teddy Tahu Rhodes who performed the song with Hobson previously. He even had a mock up record cover made to prove his dedication.

Finally after much convincing, the audience got a beautiful performance of the Pearl Fishers duet, which resulted in Lane receiving a large bouquet of flowers and Hobson getting a taste of what Gretchen Wieners received (or rather what she didn’t) when the candy canes were handed out in the cult film Mean Girls.

After going into this performance knowing hardly anything about the world of opera, I have come out with a better understanding and enormous appreciation of the art form. Hobson tried to explain a ‘typical opera synopsis’ which included themes like murder, incest and love. “Like an episode of Game of Thrones,” he joked to those still scratching their heads.

For their final number, the duo performed ‘What a Swell Party‘ from High Society which included lots of choreography and had us singing along. Not one to miss out, they invited back David Cameron to join them in their final number, the Beatles tune ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face (Across the Universe)’. After trying on each others professional hats, both Lane and Hobson encouraged the other jokingly to stick to their original arts.

In Tails is a lighthearted, funny and delightful two man show which has me intrigued by the world of opera and once again saluting the hard working artists of comedy. While Hobson is obviously the clear winner when it comes to music, Lane held his own with comedy and his surprisingly good performance as the baritone to Hobson’s flawless tenor.

Catch In Tails at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival on the 17th and 18th of June, tickets are available here.

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