Porter & Piaf takes a compassionate look into the life, loves and music of both Edith Piaf and Cole Porter. The result is a beautifully-observed account of friendship, scandal, bravery and human frailty. Despite being predictable and affectingly sentimental, the show is ultimately one of the most satisfying cabarets of the year.
Michael Griffiths breathes new life into a bygone genre with an assured script and direction, a powerful performance, and an irresistible excess of charm, wit, passion and respect in Cole. Whilst, Exposing Edith offers a bittersweet look at the chanteuse’s life that's as genuinely moving as it is laugh-out-loud funny – and a brilliant calling card for Michaela Burgess.
Limping onto the stage, aided by a walking stick, looking debonair in period attire, Griffiths evokes Cole Porter from the start. He speaks directly to the audience as he ambles down memory lane and reveals many anecdotal vignettes between some of his most popular songs.
Porter led a rather charmed life; inheriting millions of dollars from his grandfather and marrying a millionairess; feted by the in-crowd; and finding international success on both stage and screen. But it’s the colourful lifestyle, the flamboyance of character, impeccable manners and charming wit, that makes this an downright enchanting show. Of course it’s all aided by a repertoire of wonderful songs such as; Anything Goes; You’re the Top; Let’s Do it; Love For Sale; Miss Otis Regrets; and Night and Day. Griffiths’ arrangements are bright and agile as is his drollness, allure and demeanour. Ultimately, it’s a brilliant tribute filled with poise, style and benevolence.
Michaela Burger’s homage is simply spellbinding. Do not miss it if you hold any affection for high-quality, lasting-impact cabaret. At its core a stupendous performance by Burger as Edith Piaf, but Greg Wain should be also applauded for his guitar playing and the colour, texture and depth he adds to the musical landscape.
Edith Piaf is an icon. She rose from a upbringing in abject poverty to become one of the most renowned voices in the world. Burger – being only 4 feet 11 inches tall – not only assumes Piaf’s physical appearance but she also exemplifies that connection that the French singer had with her audience. Through a series of significant events, including singing for high ranking Nazis and working with the French resistance to aid prisoners of war to escape concentration camps, Piaf’s life is exposed. But it’s the stories of poverty, growing up in a brothel, busking, love and pain and suffering that capture both the heart and mind. Throughout, Burger manages to mine the depths of character whilst keeping it light when required and dramatic.
But once again it’s the songs that are the stars of the show. La Vie en Rose and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien deservedly receive rapturous receptions and Burger delivers them with aplomb. She works her magic with Padam... Padam and Milord. However, it’s arguably Hymne a L'Amour a dramatic torch song about the love of her life, boxer Marcel Cerdan who died in a place crash that has most affect on the audience.
Overall, this is an unforgettable show and Burger and Wain deserve all the plaudits that have acquired over the years.
Indeed, don’t miss either of these captivating cabaret classics. Alone they are superb. Together they are a magnificent yet intimate tribute to the lives and works of genuine greats.
Adelaide Festival Centre presents
PORTER & PIAF
a double bill
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse | Adelaide Festival Centre
Date: 10 December 2pm & 7pm
Tickets: $49.90 – $34.90
Bookings: 131 246 | bass.net.au
Porter & Piaf
- Stephen Davenport