Australia’s fastest-rising cabaret star Naomi Price is returning to the Gold Coast by popular demand with a double-bill of the little red company’s celebrated original pop culture cabarets Wrecking Ball and Rumour Has It, shows which explore both the musical and personal sides of two of pop’s greatest current divas – Miley Cyrus and Adele. She spoke with Natalie O’Driscoll in the lead up to the shows.
Please tell us how the concept of both shows came about? Why did you choose these two particular artists?
My co-writer Adam and I first came up with the idea for ‘Rumour Has It’ after several drinks! I started doing impressions of Adele’s speaking voice, and we rolled from there. A local venue was hosting an open mic night for cabaret and music theatre performers, so we devised 15 minutes of the show and I walked onstage in black lace and a ginger wig with a pillow stuffed down my skirt (Adele was pregnant at the time). I was concerned that nobody else would find what we had written funny, but thankfully people laughed and asked us when we were going to write the full show. We booked our first cabaret festival a few weeks later and the rest is history! Since then, we have toured the show around Australia for three years.
‘Wrecking Ball’ came about because we wanted to write the next show in a planned trilogy of works based on pop music acts. Adam’s entire concept was the name of the show and that the poster should be me in my knickers on a wrecking ball! As we actually began to research and explore the life of Miley Cyrus, we discovered (just as we did with Adele) that she is a fascinating character. We really liked the idea of audiences asking Miley to ‘bring Hannah Montana back’ – she was being abused constantly on social media for changing her image and breaking down her Disney princess persona. This gave us the idea to set the show at Hannah Montana’s funeral, with Miley returning to her hometown of Nashville to say goodbye to her childhood identity.
Can you tell us a bit about the storylines of both shows – how are the songs all tied together?
‘Rumour Has It’ is like having a gin and tonic with an old friend whilst they sing their catalogue of mega-hits. Our ‘Adele’ is a potty-mouthed delight; she’s self-effacing and endearing. We’ve always been fascinated by the difference between her singing voice and her speaking voice, and we loved telling her life story through her incredible songs. Our ‘Adele’ takes the audience on a journey from Tottenham in 1988 (her hometown) through to the present day, with musings on relationships, fame, music and family.
‘Wrecking Ball’ only features 4 songs by Miley Cyrus, with the rest being a showcase of some of the finest country and western artists including Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and even Billy Ray Cyrus. Our ‘Miley’ is saying goodbye to her childhood Disney persona Hannah Montana but starts to unravel and take over the funeral in a self-destructive, soul-baring mission to prove herself. The music in this show really takes the audience on an emotional journey, exposing myths about identity and fame.
Having had so much experience with singing, acting and directing, is there a particular show or a particular style of performing that you feel is a favourite?
I enjoy all forms of theatre. Obviously, most of the work I do features music in some way but I truly have no preference when it comes to style or genre. I’m passionate about life performance as an art form and the magic you can create in the theatre. There’s something really special about shared experience and the great thing about theatre is that it doesn’t exist without the audience. I love implicating and involving the audience in my work, and working towards being an artist that evokes a response from the audience.
What is it about cabaret that you particularly love?
I love being able to directly address the audience and involve them in the action. There’s something extremely interactive about cabaret and sometimes the show gets railroaded by natural hilarity volunteered by someone in the crowd. I love that every show is different and you never know how different crowds will react.
What is next on the cards for you professionally following the tour?
I’m currently appearing on The Voice Australia. Once the show wraps, I have about three weeks off and then I do this exclusive double-bill at The Arts Centre Gold Coast, then two weeks of sold out performances of ‘Rumour Has It’ for Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane, and then I go straight into rehearsals and performances for the world premiere of ‘Ladies in Black’ a new musical by Tim Finn (Crowded House) and directed by Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies) for Queensland Theatre Company.
Rumour Has It and Wrecking Ball are at the Arts Centre Gold Coast from Saturday 26 September as a double-header. Tickets can be purchased from the artscentregc.com.au either as separate shows or a discounted package.