Oprah Winfrey opened her speaking tour in Melbourne last night, amid reports ticket prices had been lowered after slow sales.
It took 5 years for the TV icon to return to Australia, but a mostly-female audience was in attendance hanging off every word. Somewhat more cynical were critics who served up their early reviews.
Neil McMahon, The Age:
“There were no guests, talking or singing, and no up-close interaction with the audience. Anyone expecting a personal counselling session and laying on of healing hands would have left disappointed. And some did leave unimpressed anyway, surprised by the intense spiritual and personal focus of the performance. One of a group of three women who left after half an hour told Fairfax Media: “I couldn’t stand another minute. What a sad indictment of women it is that we need stuff like that.” Another early departing couple said they were almost falling asleep during Winfrey’s 120-minute monologue. But for the true Oprah faithful, who could be witnessed watching their hero in rapt wonder, the show would have delivered what they came for – a shot of self-esteem, an injection of Winfrey-patented wisdom and two hours in the presence of a unique superstar.”
Donna DeMaio, 3AW:
“She actually said, ‘What are you doing here? I don’t sing, I don’t dance.’ Well, 2 hours later I’m going to say I was questioning why I actually went. To a certain degree she sets out to inspire people, she’s very much into the affirmations. But she’s very skillfully been able to say a very similar thing over and over and over again, slightly paraphrasing these concepts of spiritualism. And -I’m going to say it- if she said the word ‘paradigm’ once more I was going to let out a little scream….. She’s got this extraordinary presence and people were hanging off every syllable. I must say, people were mesmerised by what she had to say. I just think she could have probably said it in 1/4 of an hour.”
Lucie Morris-Marr, Herald Sun:
The media mogul, who last visited Melbourne in 2010, also shared her “life lessons” learnt throughout her career interviewing the world’s most influential people in her 25 years hosting the Oprah Show. The event kicked off with her first TV anchor audition tape and montage of career, the opening of her South Africa school and clips of awards and film career. “Part of the reason why I am here is to share why I’m here, share what I know and pass it on,” she said. It felt like an eulogy at times, but with the main protagonist very much alive and kicking in the same room.
Updated: Peter Ford, 3AW:
“Slickly-produced utter crap.”