The Midsumma Festival opened on Sunday with all the excitement and jubilation you’d expect; a massive all-day carnival in Alexandria Park that also offered the opportunity for a free tasting platter of some of the performances the festival will offer over the next few weeks. Midsumma is Melbourne’s annual Queer Celebration, and has been held since 1988 at a variety of locations throughout Melbourne. The program is massive, offering a variety of films, music, and live performances.
Something we’re very excited about is the return of Michael Griffiths to the festival, presenting not one, but two shows in a cabaret double bill; Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox and Madonna: In Vogue. As if presenting these two iconic performers wasn’t a daunting enough task, Griffiths in-vibes the spirit of the two without any props; no costumes, no wigs, no funny voices.
“It’s a bit like a master-class,” he tells me, “a tongue in cheek one, with the Queen of Pop. Except it happens to be a Madonna who looks like a gay guy in his thirties who doesn’t look or sound like her”. Of Lennox, he explains that, “[Because of her androgyny] there’s something that’s so easily acceptable about a man pretending to be Annie.”
Audiences might know of Griffith from his performance as songwriter/producer Bob Crewe in Jersey Boys, which turns out to be a curiously prescient piece of casting, giving what he intends with these two shows;
“We take a look at their lyrics, and we take away the drum machine, and the backing vocals, and you’re left with lyrics and melody. That’s what resonates.
It’s me behind the piano sharing my experience, and what I’ve learnt along the way about how to write incredible pop songs, and the parts of my life that have informed – the breakups, pregnancies – it’s storytelling, and we do it in the first person because a) there’s humour in it and, b) it makes it more direct, more from the source.
It’s about giving the respect that’s due to both of these extraordinary women.”
And when the show opens tomorrow night at fortyfivedownstairs, audiences are certainly in for a treat.
- Michael Griffiths as Madonna, and Annie Lennox
- Wednesday 15 January until Sunday 26 January 2014, 7pm & 9pm.