Concert Chamber, Town Hall, Auckland Live, Auckland

04/06/2014 - 04/06/2014

Production Details

The Concert Chamber transforms into a hotbed of decadence as THE EDGE presents a sumptuous five-night engagement of the Cabaret world’s hottest talents, as the inaugural Auckland International Cabaret Season takes place 4th – 8th June 2014, Live at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall.

Seven of the scene’s brightest stars indulge audiences with a season that embraces the true spirit of the cabaret. An intoxicating mix of international and locally revered acts offer up a blend of original, classic and contemporary cabaret performances in an intimate cabaret club setting.

Cabaret superstar” (New York Magazine) Lady Rizo (USA) is a comedienne, chanteuse and cabaret revivalist who has created vintage arrangements and theatrical explorations of pop songs from every decade. A Grammy winner in 2010 as part of a duet with acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, she has performed at legendary West Village nightclub Nell’s, entertaining the likes of Prince, Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Arriving with oversized suitcases jam-packed with 160 pounds of drag, Le Gateau Chocolat (UK), a Nigerian-born, London-based baritone, will set your senses ablaze with opera, musical theatre, jazz, and even some rap. Serving up a delectable confection of hand-picked arrangements as random as a box of chocolates, you’ll fall for his big heart, infectious energy and gargantuan voice.

Fresh from her role in Silo’s homage to Jacques Brel, Julia Deans (NZ) is unleashed on Joni Mitchell’s iconic songbook with Both Sides Now – a world premiere collaboration with former Silo artistic director Shane Bosher.

Dean’s Brel co-star Jennifer Ward-Lealand (NZ) returns to Auckland with Falling In Love Again as the celebrated actress sings highlights from Marlene Dietrich’s films, concerts and recordings.

Michael Griffiths (AUS) makes his highly anticipated return to New Zealand with two one-night-only shows. With In Vogue, Griffiths pays homage to the Queen of Pop, Madonna – with no costume, no accent or wig. Just ‘Madge’ accompanying herself at the piano on a journey through her tough and tender songs. Sweet Dreams, an Auckland premiere, once more pays homage to a diva from the 80’s; this time, Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox.

2013 Green Room Award winner Tommy Bradson (Australia) marks another Auckland premiere with The Men My Mother Loved: it’s the early 80’s, records spin on the radio, groupies flock to gigs to fall for their idols, and a bastard child follows his mother in the shadow of rock n roll.

Rounding off the season’s participants – take four good looking, hip swaying, suave Maori guys crooning a mix of modern day and classic songs in Te Reo and English and you get The Modern Maori Quartet (NZ). Following their sell-out season at Galatos in 2013, this charming quartet are back to serve up more classics with a fresh ‘golden syrup on fried bread twist’.

This is a world class line up of soulful, powerful and comedic cabaret voices – don’t miss the Auckland International Cabaret Season, on for just five nights this June at Auckland Town Hall.

Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, THE EDGE.

Julia Deans – Both Sides Now:
June 4th, 6:30pm and June 8th, 7pm
(Premium -$40, Gallery – $25, Table of 6 -$216)

The Modern Maori Quartet:
June 4th, 8pm and June 8th, 5:30pm
(Premium -$35, Gallery – $20, Table of 6 – $192) 

Michael Griffiths – Sweet Dreams:
June 4th, 9:30pm
(Premium -$35, Gallery – $20, Table of 6 -$192) 

Michael Griffiths –In Vogue:
June 5th, 9:30pm
(Premium -$35, Gallery – $20, Table of 6 -$192) 

Jennifer Ward-Lealand – Falling In Love Again:
June 5th, 6:30pm
(Premium – $35, Gallery – $20, Table of 6  -$192) 

Lady Rizo:
June 5th, June 6th, June 7th, 8pm. June 8th, 8:30pm.
(Premium – $45, Gallery – $25, Table of 6 -$234) 

Tommy Bradson – The Men My Mother Loved:
June 6th and June 7th, 6:30pm
(Cabaret – $30, Gallery – $20, Table of 6 -$162) 

Le Gateau Chocolat:
June 6th and June 7th, 9:30pm.
(Premium – $45, Gallery – $25, Group 6+ -$234) 

Bookings through Ticketmaster – www.ticketmaster.co.nz or 09 970 9700 (booking fees apply)

A seamless web of song and story

Review by Cherie Moore 05th Jun 2014

Michael Griffiths takes to the stage as music icons Annie Lennox and Madonna this week, for the inaugural International Cabaret Festival in Auckland. Last seen in Auckland a year ago in Jersey Boys, this Aussie has created two solo works, based on the songs and lives of these powerhouse women. ‘Sweet Dreams’ – songs by Annie Lennox, is on tonight in the Concert Chamber of the Town Hall, and I’ve got the best seat in the house. 

The lights come up to reveal a dapper Griffiths at the piano, and we’re straight into the first song. It’s impressive to see a truly solo cabaret. Griffiths accompanies himself for the whole show, and does so with precision and ease. His voice is stunning and he masterfully floats through his range, bringing colour and emotional tones to each word. His musical theatre background shows, as he brings a clarity and heightened energy that makes him mesmerising to watch despite being at a piano in the corner of the stage for the whole show.   

Griffiths acts as a sort of conduit for Annie Lennox. He is not being her, but simply allowing her story to be told through him. The shape of the show brings new understanding to lyrics from my childhood as Griffiths maps the journey through Annie’s early years and career, her triumphs and heart break. He allows songs to arrive out of narrated circumstances, with words often spoken and repeated before being sung. 

The poetry of Lennox’s songs arrives anew for me in moments during this cabaret. Griffiths’ arrangements of the songs draw me in as he spins a seamlessly interconnected web of song and storytelling. As he laments the loss of love between Lennox and long-time muse Dave Stewart, there is a magic in the theatre and I feel as if the performer, the audience and Annie Lennox are in communion.

With a cheeky pout Griffiths transitions between conjuring Annie, and being himself throughout the show. There is humour to Lennox’s writing process that Griffith’s adopts in real time as he attempts to compose his own song mid show. It is with humour too that Griffith’s transforms the audience into Lennox’s backing vocalists for ‘Run Away’. Griffiths strikes a great balance between characterisation and conversation with the audience and highlights the transformational nature of this genre.  

This is a great show executed beautifully by Griffith’s. I’ll definitely be listening to some Lennox soon. If you missed Sweet Dreams, don’t miss your chance to see Griffiths as Madonna in his second show, In Vogue, on Thursday – apparently “she’s got a bit of a potty-mouth”.  

It’s fantastic that the International Cabaret Festival is now here. Long may it continue and grow as we hastily play catch up with our trans-Tasman friends who have a thriving cabaret culture!


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