Hugh Sheridan is exciteable. The actor and musician is back in his former hometown of Adelaide and ready to hit the stage with California Crooners Club. “We want the audience up dancing. Every single person,” he says. “It’s the best fun. My cousin said we’re like The Wiggles for adults.”
Only much better dressed.
“I think I invited a bunch of drag queens to open our show tonight. I thought it’d be funny if they came on [stage] in drag. A bit Carnivàle. Total chaos but fantastic – that’s the Fringe.”
Drag queens or no drag queens, Hugh and fellow California Crooners Club members Emile Welman, Conner Boatman and TSoul will hit all the right notes. Conner and TSoul are well known US artists and fresh faces in the Crooner line-up. The foursome belts out a mix of jazz, old time classics and modern music mashups at the Adelaide Hilton Grand Ballroom.
“Why should people see our show?” Conner says. “Because it’s the most fun. We’re really good at flirting, too.”
The love is felt by audience members of all ages. “Last night I met a lot of people who are more California Crooners than I am,” R&B singer/songwriter TSoul says. “They come every year. It’s an experience for them. I met generations last night: a grandma, a mum and her child all enjoyed the show and had moments where they were all able to sing the words to the songs.”
Hugh loves meeting the crowd. “We spend more time out in the audience that we do on stage.” He laughs. “We had a meet-and-greet after the show last night and there was a grandmother who loved ‘I Like Me Better’ by Lauv. In other years we’ve had young girls who’ve never heard Frank Sinatra before and loved it.”
It’s enough to give Conner goosebumps. “It’s just so much fun up there,” he says. The 21-year-old solo artist is a former member of boy bad Citizen Four. Hugh did some song writing with them in the past. “They were all really talented but I felt like Conner had something more unique about him. He has a great high register. Last night someone said he sounds like Michael Jackson.” It’s a great addition to the baritone mix. Meanwhile, TSoul was a finalist on The Voice in the US in 2017.
Hugh had to have them on board. “I said, ‘Guys do you want to come and join a really fun band and have a party in Adelaide?” he grins. “Which is essentially what we’ve done.’”
When they’re not dancing on stage and performing songs like Toto’s ‘Africa’ they can be found throwing shapes on the Fringe Club dancefloor, drinking local wine, and exploring South Australia’s beaches. “I’ve never driven on a beach,” Conner says. “We don’t have that in America.” South African-born Emile lives in Laguna Beach and also gets a thrill out of our sandy shores. “Last year we drove on Aldinga beach. Incredible – I loved it so much.” He smiles. “I’ve been fortunate enough to come to Adelaide three times now with Hugh. This year isn’t as hot as it has been in years gone by. That’s great. I think we both lost 10 pounds the first year.”
The lads recently extended the show’s run until 12 March. They want to dance with as many locals as they can. “I love that about Adelaide,” Emile says. “Everybody supports this time of year. That’s incredible.”