“Apparently black and white pictures of a naked Madonna exploring bestiality was taking it all a step too far”.
We’re a little bit in love with Michael Griffiths.
Unless you’re in Australia, New Zealand, New York or (soon to be) Edinburgh, there’s a chance you may not know who he is. This will change, of this we’re certain.
Michael is a singer, pianist, composer and musical arranger. He’s also becoming a bit of a musical theatre mainstay down under, currently performing as Bob Crewe in Jersey Boys after touring in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and We Will Rock You.
His acclaimed one man cabaret In Vogue: Songs By Madonna was commissioned for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2011 and has since been performed in Sydney, Melbourne, New York, Auckland, Brisbane and Hobart.
Imagine then how moist we got to see that this August, he’s coming to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with In Vogue: Songs By Madonna; and will be performing in the incredible Edinburgh Playhouse which is just opposite our house.
Between figuring out if we’ll be leaving him boxes of hair or little envelopes of toenail clippings nightly, we managed to grab a quick word with him to see how he’s feeling about it all.
Tell us a little bit about you? How did you get into performing?
I grew up listening to pop music, playing the piano and singing – I was a terrible show off! I ended up studying music composition at University but was secretly doing amateur musicals on the side until one day I realised performing was much more fun than composing so I went to drama school and have been working in musicals ever since. Cabaret is a new venture for me and I’m loving it.
How did the show come about?
My best friend Dean Bryant is a writer/director who’d already had a lot of success in cabaret (his show ‘Liza on an E’ debuted to great acclaim in the West End earlier this month) and one day out of the blue he suggested we should work on a one-man show together. Pop music has always been my first love and Madonna came quickly to my mind. We’re both gay men who grew up in the 80s so it was a no brainer really!
What made you decide to bring the show to Edinburgh and how do you think audiences will respond to it here?
I’ve been wanting to visit the Edinburgh Fringe forever. I grew up in Adelaide (which has the second biggest Fringe festival in the world) and as a cabaret performer Edinburgh is a rite of passage so this will be my first time and I’m incredibly excited. I did New York last year but really that was just my out-of-town tryout. I’m hoping audiences respond to it there as well as they have down under – if you’re a Madonna fan you’ll get every gag!
It’s fairly tongue in cheek but addresses the fact that Madonna is quite an underrated lyricist. Have you forgotten that she once said: “My father had to go to work, I used to think he was a jerk?”.
OK so Madge doesn’t always get it right, have you seen ‘Swept Away’? How about her cover of ‘American Pie’? Whoops!! When you’ve been around as long as she has you’re bound to miss the mark now and then. Let’s not forget this is the artist who wrote the unforgettable lyrics to the pop classics ‘Vogue’, ‘Express Yourself’ and ‘Like A Prayer’.
I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but what’s your favourite Madonna track and why?
I adore ‘Human Nature’. When the saucy coffee-table ‘SEX’ book came out it seemed like the entire media turned on her. Apparently black and white pictures of a naked Madonna exploring bestiality (but the dog looks like he’s enjoying it!) was taking it all a step too far. Rather than apologise, she hit back with this defiant little number sporting a killer hip-hop bass line. The perfect blend of pop and confession and it’s one of her best video clips.
There are over 2800 other shows to choose from during the Fringe, why should our readers come to see yours?
If your readers have a soft spot for cabaret and the Queen of Pop herself, look no further! It’s your favourite songs as you’ve never heard them before. It’s also a lot of fun. There was a rumour going around a while back that Kabbalah frowns upon foreskins. A few cheeky lyric substitutions and suddenly ‘Cry Baby’ from the ‘I’m Breathless’ album is all about Madge insisting Guy Ritchie have an adult circumcision. Ouch!
Finally, we like to highlight people of significant achievement from the global LGB or T community. Who is your LGBTicon, and why?
I have been a Pet Shop Boys fan since ‘West End Girls’ was a huge hit down here in Oz in the 80s. They are my idols. The fact they are still doing what they want, exactly how they want to is nothing short of inspirational. I’m eagerly anticipating the new album.
Buy tickets for In Vogue: Songs By Madonna
We can’t wait!