Meeting Petula Clark after her show on Saturday night
Wednesday February 15, 2012
It’s the morning of my last show in New York. I have one show in Sydney next Friday 24th and that’ll be the end of my tour and this ‘tour diary’.
I’m not my usual self today. Whitney Houston’s passing on Saturday has changed the mood here in New York. I must confess I wasn’t a fan of much recent material and it seems she had lost quite a lot of vocal ability, whether through lifestyle or emotional problems - we can only speculate. No one would argue though, that her early talents were simply extraordinary. I loved “How Will I Know” (I still do) and remember when it came out in 1985. I also remember singing along to “The Greatest Love of All” back in the day and thinking the lyric ‘learning to love yourself’ a little peculiar. Granted, I was only about ten years old and perhaps a little young to grasp the pop psychology of it.
I’m a huge Annie Lennox fan too and I think she sums it up perfectly on her fan page:
It’s almost unbearable to think of yet another OUTSTANDING artist being prematurely snuffed out like a light…far too soon. I’m torn between the profound awe I have for the incredible voices of Whitney and Amy, and the horror I feel over the destructive natures of their respective demise. So many phenomenal performers have fallen between the cracks like this. It makes me feel so sad. I’ve been looking at YouTube clips of Whitney today, and reflecting on her tremendous rise to massive fame as a young woman. She had it all…Beauty, exceptional talent…fame, wealth… But when the life/work/fame balance gets out of kilter, and you start putting drugs into the mix, it’s completely toxic. What a terrible tragic waste. So sad.
On a lighter note, my IN VOGUE performance on Friday was fab. I had a full house and quite a few native New Yorkers had wandered in; I’d love to know how they found out about me! After the show a stranger from the audience grabbed me and wanted to tell me all about living in the same apartment block as Madonna 30 years ago. She told me how she put up a huge black fence around the entire building, much to the horror of all the other tenants! I LOVE hearing stuff like that! She loved the show and we both had a good giggle about it. Jim Caruso also came and now he is my fan, telling esteemed cabaret singer Marilyn Maye on Monday night at Birdland to check out my show tonight! I do hope she comes, I saw her sing and she totally blew me away. More on this later.
On Saturday night, my dear NYC friends Andy and Matt took me out for dinner and to see Petula Clark at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency and it was impossibly fancy. Petula’s best known for the song “Downtown” (which coincidentally I sang in my first cabaret show in Sydney with Lenore Munro and Paul Flynn in the Stables Theatre back in 2000). She was fantastic, especially when she accompanied herself at the piano. “La Vie en Rose” was the highlight.
Sunday was FREEZING cold but I braved my way through the icy wind to see Australian cabaret star Kim Smith perform his show Misfit at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. It was a treat to see his ‘neo-Weimar’ persona light up the stage and finally meet him after hearing his name for so many years. Kim sings in different languages and reinterprets pop songs (from Bjork to Minogue) in a cabaret setting. The second part, we have in common.
Unfortunately, on Sunday night the heating went down as I slept. I’d been waking up cold the last few mornings so gave the thermostat a good yank before I tucked in and it obviously didn’t like me cos it slowly shut down during the night and I woke up in a meat freezer early on Monday morning. Those people who say you can’t catch a cold by being cold obviously haven’t spent the night in a freezer (and I do mean that literally, it was about -7C overnight). I’ve been aching and coughing my guts up ever since. I’m a little worried about how my voice will hold up tonight but, thinking about it today, I’ve had a dream run until now! A little cough or sniffle is nothing I can’t handle.
Monday night was another fab night at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party. Was great to see Jim and his bar manager William – he sings most Mondays and absolutely blows the roof off. As I mentioned earlier, Marilyn Maye performed and silenced the room. She sang ‘My Funny Valentine’ (on the stroke of midnight; Happy Valentines!) and I’m now her biggest fan. I have hit Amazon and ordered all her CDs.
Last night was War Horse at The Lincoln Arts Center. I’ve not seen the Spielberg film adaptation; I’d heard it is best to see it on stage and I’m glad I waited. It’s a stunning production. The horses are a visual triumph and the emotional impact is undeniable. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Today is another ‘pre-show’ quiet day. Hoping that a good hour of yoga will scare off these muscle aches and free up my voice from all the coughing.
Here’s to my last NYC show!
“He creates a sense of togetherness in the room, reminding audiences that pop songs aren’t popular because they’re ordinary or vacuous, but because of the joy and connectedness that they inspire in the people who hear them. To miss this show would be even more of a crime than Madonna’s cover of ‘American Pie’.”
Click here to read the Four and a half-star review by ArtsHub reviewer Aleksia Barron.
“Griffiths’ charming and impish performance sheds new light on Madonna’s songs and career…” - Kate Herbert
Click here to read the four-star review by Sun Herald reviewer Kate Herbert.
“With some impressive arrangements for piano, Griffiths gives the music and lyrics a considerable lift, and together with some clever monologues, injects a lot of humour” - Australian Stage
Click here to read the full review by Vito Mattarelli.
Michael Griffiths in In Vogue: Songs by Madonna
New York season at Don’t Tell Mama: For tickets and show info, click here.
Sydney season as part of the Slide Cabaret Festival: For tickets and show info, click here.
Read his interview with Cabaret Confessional here.
Michael Griffiths Bio:
Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a Bachelor in Music Theatre in 1999 and has a Diploma in Music Composition. Michael is currently performing in Sydney in Jersey Boys. Before this Michael toured Australia and New Zealand in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Michael performed in the Australian and Japanese tour of We Will Rock You!, appeared in the original Australian cast of Shout! and was in the original workshop for the new Australian musical Prodigal. Michael has performed cabaret at Sydney’s legendary Showqueen at the Supper Club and for Koookaburra’s Up Close and Musical series. He enjoyed a sold-out season with his cabaret debut In Vogue: Songs by Madonna at the 2011 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Michael Griffiths’ Cabaret Tour Diary series
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