Returning permanently to Adelaide after 17 years, Adelaide-born singer/musician Michael Griffiths will be presenting both of his hit shows In Vogue: Songs by Madonna and Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox during the 2014 Adelaide Fringe.
Griffiths last appeared in Adelaide for the 2013 Cabaret Festival after performing around the world with roles in the hit stage musicals Jersey Boys and Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.
Glam Adelaide Reviewer Darren Hassan, who caught Griffiths performing Sweet Dreams last June, caught up with the performer to chat about his upcoming Fringe shows, how they came about, and what Fringe audiences can expect.
“Both shows were written ‘out of the blue’ by my fellow Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) colleague and mate Dean Bryant, and are biopic insights into the lives of Annie Lennox and Madonna told from both the first and third person,” Griffths explains.
He believes that the formula for this style of show works particularly well because it serves to quench our curiosity for celebrities and their backgrounds and, in addition to showcasing their talent, it serves as an insight into their lives.
“We chose Madonna in particular due to her massive body of work, great lyrics and fantastic songs. Cabaret works well with a biopic and the genre seems to click perfectly, plus it’s a nice break from a regular musical or just singing pop songs on a piano,” says Griffiths, adding that the performances are done without accent, costumes or wigs so are not impersonations.
The shows feature both the music of the artists and musings, quips and insights into two strikingly different, yet comparable identities.
When asked whether or not managing two similarly formatted shows on alternating nights could be confusing, Griffiths acknowledges the challenges with this but assures us that “…alternating the two shows nightly isn’t so hard because I know both shows so well now. Performing In Vogue is more about sex, power and fun whereas Sweet Dreams is a little more broody- both are very unique. “My main concern was whether or not I could handle the singing for both each night”.
The reaction of live audiences during shows can be unpredictable and potentially throw a performer off with hecklers and boozy punters being regular cabaret fare, but Griffiths uses these as an opportunity to adlib and “bring them back down”, creating some extra comedy whilst staying in character.
“I’ll be doing a Double Bill early in the new year in Melbourne consisting of 20 shows, presenting both on the same night so, after that, I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Griffiths laughingly says.
Having not attended Fringe since circa 1996 due to living interstate, Michael is keen to see how much the festival has ‘ramped up’ and is ecstatic to be home after 17 years away. He enthusiastically states, “I’m finally back home in Adelaide, living here and whilst Fringe is on – it’s great!”
Given the past success of both these shows, Griffith considers an Aussie spotlight a distinct possibility for the future.
“We’ve done an American and a Brit, so it’s probably natural that we do an Australian… probably Kylie (Minogue) and then we’ll give it a rest. She’s been around a while and done quite a bit so she has a story to tell. It’s not pressing, but I’d like to do my own thing in the meantime – just me singing songs I want to sing and a little of my own story in a traditional style of cabaret.”
And so he should! Michael Griffiths is a seriously talented artist who is mesmerizing to watch and listen to whether he’s channeling pop divas or being himself.
by Darren Hassan
In Vogue: Songs by Madonna and Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox
Venue: Le Cascadeur, Garden of Unearthly Delights, Rundle Park, Adelaide
Season: Adelaide Fringe, 14 February – 16 March 2014 (In Vogue on Wed, Fri, Sun; Sweet Dreams on Tues, Thurs, Sat)
Duration: 70 mins
Tickets: $23 – $30
Bookings: Online through FringeTix or phone 1300 621 255