Walking into the Simon Cabaret show theatre in Patong is just like entering a movie house. There's the same Kenny G saxophone music, the same plush seats and the same dimmed lights. It's only when a basso profundo voice announces the show and the curtain rises on live performers glistening with sequins and shimmering with feathers that things are different.
Yes, this is real live showtime and the flash and flesh are pure Vegas except for one thing – the 'girls' on stage are actually men. Since 1991 Simon Cabaret has been entertaining visitors with its mélange of camp, glitter and cornball and it still is one of the island's biggest draws.
Simon is all about clever choreography and fabulous costumes, rapid set changes and superb background sets. Some of the performers have been working the boards here for years but that doesn't take anything away from the show.
The transgender and transvestite entertainers are remarkably skilled and half of the fun at Simon is to glance around at the audience's entranced faces as they take the spectacle in.
Still, halfway through the second number – a Supremes soundalike – there's a Janet Jackson moment as 'Diana Ross' jerks her head back and almost loses her wig.
Whether it is intentionally done or not doesn't seem to matter much – it's fun anyway. It all seems so effortless but about five numbers into the show the truth suddenly dawns that Simon caters to almost everyone. There are songs in Thai, English, Japanese and Korean but those expecting a German beer song or a Swedish number will be mildly disappointed.
This is not a sex show and the children peppered throughout the audience attest to that fact. You'll have to go to the Paradise Complex in Patong for transgender onstage titillation – no, Simon's dazzling set changes and brilliant colours are entertainment enough and reach out to the multicultural audience of all ages in the cleverest way possible.
The comic relief segment is slightly predictable but is well appreciated nonetheless and 'Tina Turner' (surely every transvestite's dream celebrity to spoof) packs a punch, getting the audience going. With top of-the-range, lighting, sound system, costumes, choreography and facilities, Simon Cabaret deserves its high place in Phuket's must-see list. After the 70-minute show the performers pose outside with members of the audience for a fee.
Simon Cabaret Show
- Opening Hours: Three shows daily at 18:00, 19:45 and 21:30 hours.