Madonna fans who attend Michael Griffiths’ In Vogue show expecting a straight-forward obsequious rendition of the Material Girl’s greatest hits will be sorely disappointed. The performance does include 12 songs and many more song references, but it’s also full of wry comedy, stories and a lot of swearing.
“Dean [director Dean Bryant] and I are long-time fans, but not rose-coloured-glasses fans, so we poke fun at the disappointments, including her career and boyfriend choices,” Griffiths says.
“I remember when ‘American Pie’ came out – I thought that was terrible!”
In Vogue: Songs by Madonna was originally commissioned for the 2011 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and the Jersey Boys star has performed it throughout Australia and internationally since then. Now, Adelaide-born Griffiths is bringing the show back to his home town for a season at the Feast Festival in November.
He says one of his earliest musical memories is singing and dancing along to Madonna’s “Holiday”.
“I grew up in the ’80s, so being hit head-on by her songs was sort of non-negotiable. You had to be living under a rock to not have heard of her.
“To all the Greek and Italian girls I was friendly with at primary school, she was a messiah.”
In Vogue is essentially a journey through Madonna’s life: Griffiths channels her (but not the accent or outrageous costumes) while accompanying himself on piano.
If Cher can endure, Madge probably has a few more hits in her yet.
The show celebrates the pop icon’s songwriting talents, which are often overshadowed by her image and performances. Griffiths describes her as one of the most successful songwriters of all time, pointing to stand-out tracks such as “Express Yourself”, “Like a Prayer” and “Vogue” – his all-time favourite.
“It’s just the perfect pop song. It gets you every time. You chuck ‘Vogue’ on and the dance floor becomes a magnet.”
Griffiths, who was back at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival this year with Sweet Dreams (a tribute to Annie Lennox), says he and Bryant have made a number of changes to In Vogue over the past two years, including updating the jokes. Like the Material Girl herself, the show is an enduring success.
“Yes, there’s still more to come – but how relevant it will be, I don’t know,” Griffiths says of Madonna.
“If Cher can endure, Madge probably has a few more hits in her yet.
“She’s just still trying to prove herself. I don’t think she’s ever been satisfied with her success and fame. She’s forever hungry and that manifests itself in constant reinvention.
“She’s always hungry for success and age has not wearied her.”
In Vogue: Songs by Madonna will be performed at Queer Nexus from November 12-23 as part of the Adelaide Feast Festival.
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