Cole miner hits pay­dirt with ac­claimed cabaret

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Tanya MacNaughton

CABARET per­former Michael Grif­fiths never ex­pected his lat­est show Cole, ex­plor­ing the life and songs of Cole Porter, to win him the 2016 Help­mann Award for Best Cabaret Per­former.

“It was a lovely sur­prise and you don’t ever think about those things when you’re writ­ing them,” Grif­fiths said.

“Singing songs from 100 years ago is hardly break­ing new ground in cabaret and I feel like this show is prob­a­bly my least in­ven­tive, but it’s ac­tu­ally the hard­est.

“They’re dif­fi­cult songs to sing and make it look easy and it’s re­quired a dif­fer­ent level of work.

“I’ve been singing con­tem­po­rary pop songs for a few years with my shows about Madonna and An­nie Len­nox. Those are songs I can sit at the pi­ano and fig­ure out in five min­utes, whereas these have taken a year and I still feel like I haven’t quite mastered some of them.”

The Ade­laide-born and based WAAPA grad­u­ate will fol­low sold-out Perth sea­sons of his shows In Vogue, Sweet Dreams and Ado­les­cent with three nights of Cole at Down­stairs at the Maj from Septem­ber 29 to October 1.

The evening will fea­ture songs I’ve Got You Un­der My Skin, Any­thing Goes, Night and Day and It’s De-Lovely.

Grif­fiths said the idea for this show came out of left field, sug­gested to him by the part­ner of a for­mer school friend, Anna Goldswor­thy, who he had re­cently re­con­nected with.

“Anna is an ac­claimed pi­anist and best-sell­ing author who I’d started work­ing with and she and her part­ner came to see Ado­les­cent,” Grif­fiths said.

“We went out for din­ner and he asked if I’d ever sung Cole Porter songs be­cause he thought it would suit me and Anna said she’d write me a Cole Porter show.

“I was pitch­ing show ideas to Barry Humphries, who was artis­tic di­rec­tor of the 2015 Ade­laide Cabaret Fes­ti­val, where I sug­gested ei­ther a Kylie Minogue or Cole Porter show and he loved the thought of a Cole show.

“It’s been a won­der­ful ride and now I’ve won a frickin’ award for it, so I’m thrilled.”

The per­former’s Perth sea­son fol­lows a suc­cess­ful Ed­in­burgh Fringe in August with Cole and he has been in­vited to tour the show in the US next year.

“Venues that I would never have dreamed of play­ing have been in touch with me,” he said.

“There are places in New Zealand and the UK that want it too.”

Michael Grif­fiths.

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