Posts Tagged ‘michael griffiths

10
Jun
16

Michael Griffiths: COLE

 

Michael Griffiths: COLE

Brisbane Powerhouse & Queensland Cabaret Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

5 June 2016

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

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Ok. Hold the phone. Have you heard of Michael Griffiths? You need to. He is a singer, pianist, actor, composer and musical arranger who studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). He has performed in numerous musicals such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, We Will Rock You, Shout, and my all time favourite, Jersey Boys. He played the role of Bob Crewe four years running for which he was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actor. This man is pure talent. 

It was my first time seeing Griffiths perform on a rainy night on the 5th of June, though it was warm and cosy inside the Visy Theatre at the Powerhouse. I felt like I was entering a secret underground jazz club. A grand piano sat on stage with a crystal glass and a bottle containing brown liquor, not too far out of reach. Soft amber light filled the room. A somewhat devious audience member discovered the crystal bottle contained not alcohol but tea. I should hope so, for Griffiths needed to wet the whistle quite a few times. Perhaps we would have seen a very different side of Cole Porter.

Yes, the star of the show is Mr. Cole Porter, an American composer and songwriter. He was classically trained but found his heart was drawn to musical theatre and by the 1930s he was one of the major songwriters on Broadway. I admit I had no prior knowledge of Porter, but as soon as Griffiths began singing his songs, my memory was triggered and my ears filled with familiar sounds. One of his more popular musical hits is Anything Goes, though I was recognising songs such as Love for Sale, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and You’re the Top.

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Griffiths embodies Cole Porter with oodles of class and charisma. This one man cabaret, superbly written by co-creator and best-selling author, Anna Goldsworthy, takes the audience on a journey through Porter’s very colourful and somewhat controversial life in the spotlight. The highs soar effortlessly in the clouds with mesmerising melodies and witty banter, and the lows are handled with a tender subtlety by Griffiths, making sure the mood is not too dark and dreary. The show must go on, as they say.

This is one of those shows that I urge people to see because it’s a darn good time, and this is an artist who I utterly admire and respect (and somewhat envy). There was not one moment where I was bored, or wondering how far into the show we were, or thinking about my bladder exploding. I was utterly captivated by Michael Griffiths. And I was upset I didn’t bring my mum but there’s one more chance to see Griffiths – at Noosa arts Theatre on July 23 – before he heads to Edinburgh Fringe Festival! 

Book here to see COLE during Noosa Long Weekend Festival

24
Dec
14

INTERNATIONAL CABARET CONTEST SUBMISSIONS CLOSE TODAY – CHRISTMAS EVE

 

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INTERNATIONAL CABARET CONTEST SUBMISSIONS CLOSE TODAY!

 

TODAY IS CHRISTMAS EVE. YOU’VE GOT TIME.

 

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If you want to be a cabaret star this is the Big Brother of cabaret comps. The 12th annual Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest (YTICC) promises a spectacular line-up of talent from all walks of the Australian and New Zealand entertainment industry. The 12th annual event will feature an esteemed panel of judges including Australian film, television, and music theatre star, Mitchell Butel, Artistic Directors of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, David Read and Neville Sice, President of the Noosa Arts Theatre Liza Park, agent and Founder Emeritus of the event Les Solomon, Artistic Director of the Ballarat Cabaret Festival Graeme Russell, Artistic Director of the Noosa Long Weekend Festival Ian Mackellar, and YTICC Patron Ron Dobell.

 

Executive Producer Jeremy Youett said, “This contest is about giving artists a platform for exposure to the entertainment industry. The line-up of judges includes some amazing Australian industry leaders in the genre and they have the ability to offer incredible opportunities to entrants that take part. You never know who may show up and what they may be looking for!”

 

Hosts this year include past YTICC winners and seasoned performers in their own right: in Melbourne, Gillian Cosgriff; in Sydney, Marika Aubrey and Sheridan Harbridge; and in Adelaide, Amelia Ryan, while radio personalities Sam Coward and Mark Darin host our Queensland heats. Guest performers throughout will include Cath Alcorn, Bradley McCaw, Michael Griffiths and 2014 winner Melody Beck, with more surprise guests to be announced.

 

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Tom Sharah, previous YTICC winner said “The International Cabaret Contest was the best professional launching pad I could have asked for. It is a one of a kind competition in terms of exposure, prizes and experience.

Winning meant I was able to write and tour my own work, which I still do, and I look up to so many of the other previous winners & contestants.

It has really paved the way for the future of cabaret in Australia!”

 

 

 

In 2015, both the Grand Prize winner and runner-up will be eligible to be offered performance opportunities from our Major Festival Partners. These will include invitations to perform at the Cabaret Festivals of Adelaide, Melbourne, Ballarat, and Queensland, as well as the Festival of Voices in Tasmania and the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, which all guarantee flights and accommodation. The Grand Prize winner will also receive the opportunity to present their show on an Australia/Pacific Cruise ship thanks to Grayboy Entertainment, as well as at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, with flights and accommodation for their appearance to the value of $3000 generously contributed by The Ron and Margaret Dobell Foundation. There’s a cash prize of $1000 for the winner, a photographic and marketing package from Blueprint Studios valued at $1000, a Music Theatre and Cabaret music and book package from Hal Leonard, as well as tour publicity from AussieTheatre.com which will spotlight the winner’s creative process as they develop and tour their show. The runner-up will receive a $500 cash prize, and a photographic package from Blueprint Studios valued at $500.

 

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The contest is open to performers at any point in their career, ages 18+

 

Submissions close TODAY Wednesday December 24 at 5pm AEST.

 

For full contest details, frequently asked questions and more visit www.yticc.com

 

Tickets for all events are on sale now at www.yticc.com Support the next generation of cabaret talent as they compete to be Australia’s next cabaret sensation!

 

melody beck 2014

03
Jul
14

XS Entertainment at Noosa Long Weekend Festival!

 

Well, by now you will have booked your tix to see our shows at this year’s Noosa Long Weekend Festival! What!? You haven’t!? YOU WILL MISS OUT! 

 

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I haven’t had time to even tell you about what we’re doing, unless you’re following us on Twitter and Instagram, where you will have seen some sneaky peaks at both productions, which we present in association with Noosa Long Weekend Festival.

 

BOOK NOW!

 

 

Managing Carmen is David Williamson’s comedy about a cross-dressing AFL player, directed by Sam Coward. Even if you’ve seen this play before, you’ve never seen it like THIS! That’s right. It’s been Samified AND David Williamson approved. You’ll love the quirks and fast pace of this, what we think might be Australia’s first real farce; one of David’s wittiest observations on relationships and the whole massive media machine within the world of sport.

 

Diabolique is completely different. Dark and sexy, this challenging drama plays at the edges of burlesque and cabaret to tell the intriguing tale of a woman whose life is ruined by a series of questionable choices and one diabolical decision.

 

Diabolique. Image by Peter Trainer.

 

Diabolique. Image by Peter Trainer.

 

Three women play one (yes, it’s me with Sharon Grimley and Stephanie Brown), and we think you’ll love it! We can tell you that considering and sourcing costumes with Adam Flower, who plays Brent Lyall in Managing Carmen has been fun and FUNNY! (Although you won’t see the Honey Birdette on HIM!). Yes, sadly for students (probably happily for their parents), you won’t get in to see this one; it’s 18+

 

We always set out to challenge our actors and audiences with content, themes and skills to start conversations. Who knew we were exotic dancers in another life? Expect to be pleasantly surprised and suitably challenged!

 

My other hot tips for Festival tix? Well, you’ve already missed out on Michael Griffiths and Rhonda Burchmore. Forbidden Broadway, Night of Comedy, Puccini and Fettucini, our inaugural Festival Wrap Dinner and Mandy Sayer are also SOLD OUT! Get in quicker next year! If you can still get tix today, book for Bruce Beresford’s Bonnie & Clyde, Catherine Alcorn, Melody Beck, Anna Goldsworthy, any of the four fantastic forums on offer this year, and of course, Managing Carmen and Diabolique, all almost SOLD OUT! And it’s no wonder with THESE LEGS ON SHOW!

 

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XS Entertainment and Noosa Long Weekend Festival will be live-tweeting and Instagramming so frock up and be ready to say hi, get your Cocktail Capers VIP Pass, visit the restaurants, mingle with old friends and meet some new ones. One of the things I love most about the Noosa Long Weekend Festival is that you meet the most amazing people! I’m especially looking forward to our inaugural opening night Carnivale on Hastings Street. Get ready to get amongst it! Oh, and look out for Bronte and Tara in that crowd! They’ll be helping me cover all things social media related for the ten days of arts, literature, food, forums and FUN! SEE YOU THERE! X

 

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09
Sep
13

In Vogue: Songs by Madonna

 

In Vogue: Songs By Madonna

Brisbane Powerhouse

Powerhouse Visy Theatre

5 – 7 September 2013

 

Reviewed by Jenn Jay

 

We adored him as the effervescent Bob Crewe in Jersey Boys and now Brisbane has seen cabaret star, Michael Griffiths, very comfortable in his own skin and it seems, in that of Pop Diva Madonna’s, “the most famous bitch on the planet!”

 

 

A capacity crowd at the Powerhouse’s Visy Theatre were entertained by Michael Griffiths in his one man cabaret show, In Vogue: Songs by Madonna. The moment he stepped onto the stage, Michael slipped into his Madonna persona, opening the evening with a brilliant rendition of Vogue. Michael’s confident and sassy character immediately consumed the room.

 

For the next hour, Griffiths played the grand piano, serenading the audience with his unique versions of Madonna’s songs, broken often by humorous, crude banter. There is nothing like listening to a performer who really knows how to hold a tune, but who makes you laugh as well. Camp humour flowed freely to great effect.

 

As a fan of Madonna’s music (hard not to be a fan, growing up in the 80’s), I was keen to observe how a male would portray Madonna.  No costumes, wigs, American accent or cone-style bras in sight, just Michael dressed immaculately as himself, impersonating Madonna.

 

Michael uses his smooth and sexy voice to confidently belt out a selection of her most recognisable songs. His expert pianist skills lifted the entertainment level another notch. The Visy theatre provided the perfect intimate atmosphere for this kind of show.  You felt welcome in Michael’s Madonna’s living room.

 

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In character, Madonna laments that no-one buys music anymore – it’s all pirated and she no longer receives any royalties. (Like that’s going to hurt her billion dollar empire!) Many quips flow throughout the show, including a few digs towards Madonna’s best buddy, Lady Gaga. She is “probably going through my back catalogue right now.”

 

The question, “Was I a virgin or a whore?” leads into a highly entertaining version of Like a Virgin.

 

Michael introduces us to the song with the click of the fingers providing the beat, the ivories the melody and his powerful voice, the song. There are many references to Madonna’s diva ways, how she eats people up, then spits them out after she has got what she wanted. The show is peppered with camp, dry humour and bitchy, rude interpretations of Madonna’s life.

 

The audience loves it.

 

The show is slick, fast paced, hilariously clever and the music is top class. Written and directed by Dean Bryant, the script showcases his satirical genius and is interwoven smoothly with the music provided by the very talented Griffiths. The audience was taken on a paradoxical version of Madonna’s life journey.

 

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Michael, who wrote all the musical arrangements himself, has performed the show overseas, including sold out shows at the Edinburgh Festival. His New York performances – Madge’s home town – failed to draw a large crowd, “due mostly to the small back-street venue, that could hold only about 10 people”, Michael revealed in our post-show chat.

 

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If you are familiar with Madonna’s persona and music you will more easily relate to the show and the humour, but even if you are not, Michael is an accomplished performer. The only complaint I have is it was over too quickly – 65 minutes felt more like 30.

 

“Why was I so successful, dressed like a slut?”

 

Why indeed?

 

 

Notes from the ed:

 

Michael also has his superb Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox. It’s a MUST-SEE! X

 

bryantandfrank.wordpress.com is a must-follow for fans of cabaret, music and musical theatre. One of the better theatre blogs out there, it gives great insight into the machinations (and minds) behind the works. I have to include this extract from a fascinating blog post from Dean Bryant, which gives you a good idea of how Madonna followed on from Britney Spears: The Cabaret, which I loved so much! In fact, they were already well and truly onto it (no surprises there, with Lisa Campbell on board!), when I noted The creative team behind Britney Spears: The Cabaret could be onto something. There is a new genre here, not only a reinvention of cabaret during massive cabaret resurgence but also a fresh approach to telling the story – real or imagined – behind the star. Imagine Christina: The Cabaret, Robbie Williams: The Cabaret, Lady GaGa: The Cabaret. What about Whitney: The Cabaret? Too soon? The format is deftly crafted cabaret and it has a sizable audience. x

 

Here’s what Dean Bryant noted:

 

Then came Madonna.  I really didn’t want to write this show.  The only reason I did is because it was my best friend Michael’s idea (the Michael who introduced me to Britney).  Michael and I studied together at WAAPA and have been best friends ever since.  He’s one of the most employable actors in musical theatre because he can sing, act, is tall and dance enough to get by.  He’s also happy to do ensemble and cover, which is a dream for any producer.  During our stint together on the original cast of Priscilla, he started doing ten-minute slots of cabaret at various functions.  And he was brilliant.  Not “I’m supporting my friend because he’s having a go” brilliant but actually comedically amazing, musically brilliant and exactly what cabaret should be.  So I started pushing him to do something for himself.  Instead he did chorus in Jersey Boys.  Well, it’s a wage.

 

But then after I’d done a few Adelaide Cabaret Festivals he said, I wanna do a show.  About Madonna.  Because Britney had already had a few seasons, I was loathe to tread that ground.  But he had a unique take – Christie impersonates Britney, it’s like an Alan Bennett monologue with songs about her life.  But Michael was going to do Madge without any attempt at accent, costume or wig.  Just say, I am her, so let’s get going.  Lisa Campbell was intrigued, but only if Michael would accompany himself at the piano.  Which he can do, luckily.  This was the stroke of genius because it turned his show into something very specific, a recital, essentially, of Madonna’s music.  I said from the start I didn’t want to biopic the script, because I’d done that on Britney, Newley and Liza.  Michael started sending me arrangements of the songs he was interested in, and they started sending ideas into my head of how they could fit.  In a biopic.  So I wrote a biopic script.  We were getting together to work the script for a few days, and Michael, who had professed to love my draft, spent the day rewriting the script.  So when I turned up at his house to begin the rehearsal process, there was an entirely new script waiting for me.  This led to the only real fight we’ve ever had in our friendship.  But the outcome of this (apart from a trip to Stonewall) was that we made a show that was original and unique.

 

Michael really wanted to push the idea that Madonna is an unsaluted songwriter.  So we went through all her lyrics and found key quotes, and then shaped the story around the idea that she was giving a masterclass from the piano of how to use your life to write pop.  Once we’d shaped that, thrown in a guest appearance from Justin Timberlake and a trip through the infamous “Sex” book, we had a show…

 

Michael is even better with an audience than I thought he would be.  Apart from the truly virtuoustic skill of being able to accompany yourself, sing and do dialogue, he can improvise hilarious dialogue on a moment’s notice.  Whenever I watch him do the show I am ridiculously proud of his talent and gratified that I had a part in making sure the world has seen it now.

 

Read more here.