Michael Griffiths: COLE
Brisbane Powerhouse & Queensland Cabaret Festival
Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre
5 June 2016
Reviewed by Katy Cotter
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.
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