CABARET performer Michael Griffiths never expected his latest show Cole, exploring the life and songs of Cole Porter, to win him the 2016 Helpmann Award for Best Cabaret Performer.
“It was a lovely surprise and you don’t ever think about those things when you’re writing them,” Griffiths said.
“Singing songs from 100 years ago is hardly breaking new ground in cabaret and I feel like this show is probably my least inventive, but it’s actually the hardest.
“They’re difficult songs to sing and make it look easy and it’s required a different level of work.
“I’ve been singing contemporary pop songs for a few years with my shows about Madonna and Annie Lennox. Those are songs I can sit at the piano and figure out in five minutes, whereas these have taken a year and I still feel like I haven’t quite mastered some of them.”
The Adelaide born and based WAAPA graduate will follow sold-out Perth seasons of his shows In Vogue, Sweet Dreams and Adolescent with three nights of Cole at Downstairs at the Maj from September 29 to October 1.
The evening will feature songs I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Anything Goes, Night and Day and It’s De-Lovely.
Griffiths said the idea for this show came out of left field, suggested to him by the partner of a former school friend, Anna Goldsworthy, who he had recently reconnected with.
“Anna is an acclaimed pianist and best-selling author who I’d started working with and she and her partner came to see Adolescent,” Griffiths said.
“We went out for dinner and he asked if I’d ever sung Cole Porter songs because he thought it would suit me and Anna said she’d write me a Cole Porter show.
“I was pitching show ideas to Barry Humphries, who was artistic director of the 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, where I suggested either a Kylie Minogue or Cole Porter show and he loved the thought of a Cole show.
“It’s been a wonderful ride and now I’ve won a frickin’ award for it, so I’m thrilled.”
The performer’s Perth season follows a successful Edinburgh Fringe in August with Cole and he has been invited to tour the show in the US next year.
“Venues that I would never have dreamed of playing have been in touch with me,” he said.
“There are places in New Zealand and the UK who want it too.”
Where: Downstairs at the Maj, His Majesty’s Theatre
When: September 29 to October 1