In what could have been feared to be a tribute to Madonna, Michael Griffiths makes his brilliant cabaret debut at her expense, much to his audience’s amusement and delight.
Introduced simply as “The Queen of Pop”, Griffiths struts onstage with all the presence of the Lady herself. His only tribute to Madonna’s ‘unique’ fashion is a small fur stole around his shoulders, over his own more tasteful light shirt/black pants ensemble.
This is Madonna as we have never seen her before. She is recreated in a beautiful baritone, accompanied only by piano. Once removed from the pop beats, some of her music sounds remarkably nice. This is the moment for her lyrics to shine.
This is not just an hour of Madge’s music, but a time of vulnerability and sharing. The Queen reads to us from her diary, kept throughout her life to record what she was feeling at the times she wrote, performed and produced all her hits. We’re alerted to the moments of true Poetry within her work, sourced from some of her lesser known songs that thankfully slipped under the radar. Apparently, anything that would rhyme, regardless of meaning or taste, was good enough for the Material Girl.
Griffith’s curiously sophisticated approach to The Queen is an amusing contrast to her story, as he tells it. He highlights the string of men she used to worm her way into the New York music scene, and the subsequent line-up of mistakes (Sean Penn, Warren Beatty, Vanilla Ice) and hotties (father to her daughter, Carlos Leon, and Jesus Luz). He indulges us in a cheeky ‘show & tell’ with the notorious “photo album” of Sex, a theme which is never far from centre stage in this show – or, for that matter, from Madonna.
There are even some educational aspects to the show, such as the breakdown of a Pop classic. All you need is a beat, some hot bass, a great first verse and a catchy chorus. It seems so simple when put like that…
Never one to disappoint, The Queen performs all her most famous tracks. Never a fan of, well, any of her music before now, tonight’s version of Like a Virgin was gorgeous, as was Like a Prayer, which he lets us think he’s left out, naughtily saving it for the much demanded encore.
In a surprise star appearance, M is joined by ‘Justin Timberlake’ for their duet 4 Minutes. The gorgeous Josie Lane completes this act, and once again we’re amazed at how bad music can sound so good in the hands of talented musicians.
Currently performing in Jersey Boys, we’re very lucky to steal Mr Griffiths from Sydney to share his talent and humour with humble Adelaide cabaret lovers. Written and directed by Dean Bryant, Griffiths does justice to Bryant’s satirical genius, adding his own wonderful showmanship and musical talent to this fantastic solo debut. We’re left wondering, where is “Madonna: The Musical”? In Vogue shows what a plethora of potential her biography presents. Love her or hate her, the whole audience knows Madonna, and while some of the jokes go over the head of this largely Madge Virgin reviewer, there was plenty in it to make me laugh, and just enough genuinely great sound to make me wanna “move to the music”.
2011 Adelaide Cabaret Festival
In Vogue: Songs by Madonna
Written and directed by Dean Bryant
Dates: 15 – 17 June, 2011
Times: 8:15pm (15), 8:30pm (16) & 7:00pm (17)
Duration: 1 Hour