Michael Griffiths – Cole
Written by Anna Goldsworthy. Presented and performed by Michael Griffiths. Le Cascadeur. Garden of Unearthly Delights. Adelaide Fringe Festival 2016
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Michael Griffiths as Cole Porter|
Witty, wicked and just a little bit wild. Adelaide’s own award winning cabaret artist, Michael Griffith is Cole Porter in a show that is delicious, deluvely and delightful. With easy charm, camp charisma and a winning smile, Griffiths serves up his tribute to the gay darling of Forties Broadway. With light-fingered touch on the keyboard and a voice that smoothly glides through the familiar and the favourite, Griffith sings Porter’s melodies of love and seduction.
In the Le Cascadeur of the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Griffith seems a long way from his sell-out show at last year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and a keyboard may seem a poor substitute for a stately grand, but nothing can detract from this artist’s immense talent and enchanting rendition of evergreen favourites such as Anything Goes, Let’s Do It, Be A Clown and Night and Day to name but a few of the songs that Griffiths covers in the show.
The songs are linked by a running narrative, written by acclaimed classical pianist and author, Anna Goldsworthy, and at times Griffiths veers from the text to give the songs a local flavor. How do the Tour Down Under, the Elder Park Rotunda and Fruchocs get into the lyrics of You’re the Top? But then, Cole Porter was no stranger to parody. Cleverly interwoven between numbers, Griffiths as Cole relates the stories of his life, inviting at times the audience to join in and greet his two damaged legs, Geraldine and Josephine, or sing along with the chorus of Another Opening to Another Show. His style is assured, friendly and oozing with charm. His digressions are always in perfect character as he curses the planes that pass overhead, asks for the air-conditioner in the muggy tent to be turned on or chats with the audience in the small tent as a drop of rain falls through the cloth roof or someone drops something with a clang. Cole is intimate cabaret and the audience is swept away with Griffith’s relaxed and easy performance.
A life of Great Gatsby extravagance, gay philandering, showbiz hits and lifelong pain after his legs were crushed by a toppling horse reveal a man of complexities, whose love songs fill the heart with joy (Deluvely), longing (Night and Day) or pain (Love For Sale). Griffith keeps his audience up to the mark with incidents in Cole Porter’s life – his marriage to loyal Linda, his passionate affair with Boris, his terrifying fall from the horse and his Broadway successes (Another Opening to Another Show).
“The song is a person.” Cole Porter says, and the legendary songwriter and brilliant lyricist could not hope for a better exponent of his talent, his humour and his passion to bring that person to life. It is to Griffith’s credit that, in a tent, and on a keyboard, this talented interpreter could play his audience like a rhapsody and hold them for an hour under his spell.Griffith is a star who would shine on any world stage night or day. Cole is a cabaret treat!