Cabaret and country music collide in Cinzia Lee’s Don’t Judge Country


Cinzia Lee.
Cinzia Lee.

AFTER 14 years living in Sydney to begin her music theatre career, South Perth-raised Cinzia Lee decided to move home to spend more time with her family and will be forever grateful she did.

“Sometimes the universe steps in and takes you home,” Lee, of Cottesloe, said.

“At the time you’re not sure why and then it unfolds. My mum passed away suddenly with only three and a half weeks between diagnosis to passing; we were really close.”

It was Lee’s mother who noticed her daughter’s enthusiasm for the arts and was also responsible for introducing her to country and western music.

“One of the first songs I used to dance to was Love is Like a Butterfly by Dolly Parton,” Lee said.

“I used to hold on to the dining table and bounce around until my nappy fell down, so my mum decided to put me in dance lessons. My parents were skydivers and teachers so there was no one in the family who had that musical rhythm but each night she would play me either country music or the Hey Diddle Diddle tape from Play School; I think that always resonated with me.”

After performing in Australian tours, including Grease and Jersey Boys, Lee created her own show for 2017 Fringe World Festival, One-Hit Wanda Karaoke Killer, which had such a successful season at Downstairs at the Maj that she was invited back to be part of the venue’s Live and Intimate series.

This set the wheels in motion for her latest show, Don’t Judge Country (cause it starts with…), combining cabaret with country music

“When I’m creating shows, for some reason, I seem to pull two worlds together that have never come together before,” she said.

One-Hit Wanda was karaoke and cabaret and this is country and western and cabaret. I want people who love country to come and have a sing-a-long and learn some more facts about it, but I also want the people who think it’s ridiculous to come and laugh and feel ok with that ride.”

Lee’s decision to read excerpts from Billy Ray Cyrus’s autobiography for a laugh took an unexpected turn when she bought his book and realised there was more to the country singer than his Achy Breaky Heart.

“I was blown away, because he is super spiritual like me and listens to his intuition,” she said.

“Don’t get me wrong, he was a bad boy as well, but I admire people who can be who they are, even if they’re going to cop flak for it.”

The book remained in the show, as do songs with titles such as Drop Kick Me Jesus through the Goalposts of Life and My Wife Ran Away with a Tractor, backed by a five-piece band, including Grammy award winner Lucky Oceans.

“It warms my heart that people are going to come to a cabaret show and see world-class musicians, that are Perth musicians, on stage,” Lee said.

“I feel like someone must be watching over me.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Don’t Judge Country (cause it starts with…)

Where: Downstairs at the Maj, His Majesty’s Theatre

When: October 26 to 28

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au

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