Adolescent (Michael Griffiths)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre
Michael Griffiths had a special birthday at the end of last year. But he is determined not to let turning 40 stop his prolonged adolescence. (He leaves that grown-up stuff to his partner anyway). He’s wearing his good shirt and socks and is ready to celebrate, emerging from pre-show banter within the audience to kick off his autobiographical cabaret show “Adolescent” with ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ from Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, which he has been revisiting on LP, he tells us, thanks to recent purchase of a record player.
Griffiths is a cabaret performer of pedigree. Unlike his previous successes in role as Madonna in “In Vogue” or Annie Lennox in “Sweet Dreams”, however, this time he is just himself, telling his story, still with his wonderful voice and piano accompaniment. In telling his tale, he is funny and charming (particularly during ad-lib moments) and never excessively self-indulgent. His dulcet tones are soothing in tribute to ‘80s staples from Duran Duran, Culture Club, The Cure and those three boys from Norway, even though there is only a touch of ‘Take on Me’ (for you can never have too much A-ha). And there is a tempered light and shade to the pace of the show, which moves with ease from upbeat 80s fare to an honest, moving and vulnerable original number, “Resemblance”, about issues central to his personal identity.
However talented a artist is, however, a cabaret show relies on audience energy and with witty banter, Griffiths has a warmth to his rapport and is absolutely engaging in encouragement a ‘PYT’ sing-along and especially when relaying his experiences on stage (and in the wings) as part of the Australian productions of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and jukebox musical “Jersey Boys”. And when he shares their ballads, ‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You’, the listening is very easy indeed. Often songs are lowered so that they are in the speaking range, which serves just as effectively in conveying their croony emotional underpinning as belting out tune after tune without reprieve. And in every instance, Griffiths’ vocals are as superb as ever.
Fans of the ‘80s stuff will love this show, but even if you have no appreciation for Limahl’s hair, you should not shy away from “Adolescent”, which is a clever and classy cabaret from a gifted, generous artist. 40 is one of those ages; no one is to blame (to quote Howard Jones). And if you’ve made it there along with Michael, then take faith because you’ve got the power to know you’re indestructible (to quote Spandau Ballet). Besides which, 50 is the new 30, so everything is good as gold (#seewhatididthere).
Photo c/o – http://brisbanepowerhouse.org