Interview: Michelle Pearson – Bringing her own taste of Cabaret to the Adelaide Festival Centre

Adelaide cabaret performer is bringing a brand new show to this year’s Cabaret Festival

Adelaide’s own Michelle Pearson is an award-winning cabaret performer, entertainer and vocalist. Michelle is well known for her hit music and food sensations, Comfort Food Cabaret and Just Desserts, which weave together cabaret, storytelling, live music and cooking. This year sees Michelle debuting a brand new show for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Michelle recently spoke to Glam Adelaide’s arts editor, Ben Stefanoff, about her new show, her love for creating cabaret and what drew her to performing in the first place.

“I’ve always been a performer, it’s always been in me. I think I was probably one of those really annoying kids who staged concerts all the time for my family. I grew up in a family that loved music. I wouldn’t say that I was surrounded by musicians, but my grandma was an opera singer so I grew up with lots of music around me and it was always played or it was always on TV. My Mum and Dad were really into rock’n’roll and Australian music as well.”

We asked Michelle if she had ever dreamt of the success she’s had in the cabaret world.

“Not exactly, no. I have always set goals along the way and I have really worked hard to get recognition in the industry. When I started out in cabaret, I really felt very comfortable in the genre. I tried my hand at some musical theatre but I never saw myself as a dancer, so I was never going to be a triple threat. I also have composed some original music over the years as well. Catherine Campbell ran some cabaret courses when I was in my early twenties and I felt very empowered by her – I felt that this was a genre that suited me perfectly. From there I have worked extremely hard to get to the point I am now, especially when switching from being a creative to also being a producer and learning how to treat this as a business and see the opportunities as they come up.”

Michelle’s Comfort Food Cabaret performances sell out wherever she goes. We were keen to find out from Michelle where the idea for these shows came from.

“I love having people for dinner, and I really love cooking for people. I’m the sort of person who loves to be doing something and getting my hands dirty – I’m not someone who is very good at sitting at a desk all day long and writing. The way Comfort Food Cabaret all unfolded is that I was starting to become a little bit more adventurous with my cooking, and my love of cooking for people was growing. Friends would tell me I should go on Master Chef or become a chef, but I didn’t want to work those hours as it would impair my opportunity to be able to perform as well. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could just do them both at the same time? And that’s how that idea came about!

“I think that the connection between food and music is really strong – it’s a way that people show love for each other. People show love by singing a song, or you sing a song to your child at night to calm them down, or you cook a loved one a favourite meal if they’re feeling sick. There’s so many little things that we do and I think that they’re really big connectors and I think that’s probably why they exist so nicely together.”

On Saturday 11 May, Michelle will be hosting Flavour Centre Stage at the Adelaide Festival Centre as part of Tasting Australia.

“It will feature five different acts from five different festivals that are run by the Adelaide Festival Centre – Our Mob, OzAsia, Adelaide Guitar Festival, DreamBig Children’s Festival and of course the Cabaret Festival. They have then matched those festival five courses. I’ve heard a little bit about the menu and it sounds incredible. I was very flattered to be asked because this is totally my wheelhouse. I love talking about food and I love performing”

At this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival Michelle will be presenting her brand new show Skinny

In this spectacular collision of self-loving power ballads and biting comedy, Michelle will encourage us to face the mirror and embrace our bodies for all they are.

“I can’t tell you too much or it will give away too much of the show, but I guess it’s a really personal story for me because it’s been something I’ve dealt with my whole life – my struggle to be skinny. I’ve always felt a real pressure from society, from the industry, and even from family that I have to be a certain size. So the creation of my Cabaret Festival show, Skinny, kind of comes from that. I’ve tried all sorts of diets and all sorts of treatments and options to try and reach that kind of figure that everybody says you have to be in all the magazines, but I actually got to a point where I was okay with how I am – it’s ridiculous and this needs to stop. It was a bit of a wake up call for me years ago that will obviously be talked about a bit in the show.”

Tickets are still available for Flavour Centre Stage. Further information and tickets can be found here: .

Skinny will premiere at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival on June 15. Further information and tickets can be found here: .

Photo credit: Brent Leideritz

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