Like A Prayer
Jersey Boys cast member Michael Griffiths is also responsible for a one man show, In Vogue: Songs By Madonna, where he channels the pop diva through songs and performance. But, as he tells Anthony Smith, this is not a drag show!
Michael Griffiths is charming and funny over the phone when I ask him if there is a large difference between the two roles he’s playing: in Jersey Boys, the story of The Four Seasons, and in his one-man show, In Vogue: Songs by Madonna.
“I play the gay one in Jersey Boys, so it's not really,” he replies. “I do the camp one-liners, and that's how we do Madonna, she has dry, flippant and camp one-liners too. There was never any idea about doing a tribute, it was actually about using her songs and giving them a cabaret treatment. So I do kind of play Madonna... but in an abstract and avant-garde way.”
The show features a very different take on the classic tracks from 'Madge' than you will get to hear, Griffiths tells me. "You get to hear Madonna songs in a completely new light: first of all it's a male singing them, second of all because it's on piano, third of all because we have rearranged them all so you won’t always know them right away.
"I find it really hard to play piano and talk at the same time. The show is scripted, when you're playing the piano and doing script... it's a real head-fuck. Before the show I do a little yoga so I feel supple, and then I'm the Queen of Pop for an hour." When I ask Griffiths about the ongoing venomous spit between Madonna and Sir Elton John he laughs.
"It's heaven! Two days ago 'She's a fucking cunt' was the headline! God, he's a bitter old queen. Since I'm doing this show my ball is in her court, but I wasn't actually a crazed fan before that. I wasn't one of those people that thinks she could do no wrong. Obviously I have a great respect for her as an artist, but I am not one of those rose-coloured glasses Madonna fans. Of course Elton is extraordinary, and we should congratulate him, but he's not behaving so well now days...”
With reviews suggesting the show is akin to some kind of religious experience, I ask Griffiths just what people can expect from his retake on the classic tracks.
"You'll hear the songs like you have never heard them, and because they are in the context of her life story, they kind of take on these wonderful new meaning. You're not just hearing the songs per se, you are hearing them in the dramatic context, and you think, 'She's communicating with me!' There is real thought in the lyrics, they are actually very beautiful and evocative. You hear that when they are stripped away from all the pop production and pretense. They stand up as fantastic songs — that's the long answer."
In Vogue: Songs by Madonna plays October 3, 2012 at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Bookings: brisbanepowerhouse.org