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April 12, 2021

Midsumma hits in midwinta

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michael- This Saturday the Byron Theatre presents two of the highlights from this year’s Melbourne Midsumma Festival: In Vogue: Songs by Madonna and Without Me, I’m Nothing.

In Vogue is a creation by Michael Griffiths and features the Jersey Boy star and the Material Girl star in the show that enjoyed sell-out seasons in New York, Sydney, Melbourne and Edinburgh festivals. Michael gave us a sneak peek…

What inspired you to create In Vogue: Songs by Madonna?

My friend and writer/director Dean Bryant suggested to me out of the blue that we work on a cabaret together. Madonna was the first subject that came to mind.

I’ve always loved her songs and felt she was underrated as a songwriter. The idea that I actually be her came a little further down the track.

What is it about Madonna, do you think, that sets her apart from other artists?

Madonna had always defiantly done things her own way and on her own terms. She’s never stopped reinventing herself. And then there’re all those incredible songs…

As an artist, what is it like becoming the Material Girl? Why do you think she’s become such a powerful gay icon?

I don’t dress up or imitate her; it’s more that I ‘channel’ her for the show. It’s very empowering; she’s the smartest and strongest person in the room!

jonathanWhat are some of the real stories behind the songs?

One of my favourites is Human Nature, which came out after the Sex book controversy that almost ended her career – ‘Oops I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex,’ indeed! We do take a few artistic liberties though. A while back there was a rumour she insisted Guy Ritchie have a painful surgical snip. A few lyric changes later and Cry Baby is suddenly about adult circumcision!

For someone who was so gutsy and out there she always seemed like a very private person. Is this a show about the persona of Madonna, or the woman behind… or possibly both?

Very much both. You don’t have to look too hard at her lyrics to find real stories of love, motherhood and loss.

What should we expect for the Byron show?

All your favourite songs from the Queen of Pop as you’ve never heard them before! Without Me, I’m Nothing is written and performed by Jonathan Duffy, an accomplished actor, standup and filmmaker. Jonathan shares anecdotes from the road along with observations made from the perspective of a city gay turned country boy turned city gay.

How did you become a standup comic?

That’s a really good question.
I’m a failed actor with no other marketable skills.

What on Earth inspired you to do something as silly as that?

Inspiration? I just need to eat.

in-vogue-colour.2What are the personal challenges that you take onto the stage for the comedic insights? 

Everything I’m currently failing at… Everything!  If you think you’re failing at life, wait till you see my show.

I know of your Doctor’s Wife documentary about moving to a country town with your partner. What is it like exactly being a doctor’s wife? Do you get invites to morning teas and tennis clubs? Do these experiences translate as comedy?
Funny you should mention that. This question is best answered in my award-winning documentary (available at JB HiFi, Big W online, amazon.com and many other retailers nobody is buying it from). Those listening at home who haven’t yet seen my film. When you’re a doctor’s wife in an ageing population, you get invited to more funerals than you could poke a necrotic finger at. The plus side is that the CWA put on a mean spread at the wake.

How would you describe your world view when it comes to your onstage stylings?

The answer to that question depends on how many wines I’ve had and what Miley Cyrus has done today.

Tell us what to expect in the Byron show… Songs? Dance?

SONGS! DANCE! More. I will take you on a journey that starts with my disdain for ‘the secret’ and ends with a touch of Eurovision. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might even wee. I have summoned up the best of what I have been through into an hour-ish collage of my many talents (I know that sounds like I’ve got tickets on myself, but if nobody’s buying them, I might as well).

This double bill starts at 8pm at the Byron Bay Community Centre. Tickets $30 / $28 concession from byroncentre.com.au or 6685 6807.

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