She’s impressed audiences with her portrayal of Bette Midler in The Divine Miss Bette and long-time Fleetwood Mac vocalist Christine McVie. Next Wednesday evening, award-winning cabaret artist Catherine Alcorn brings her latest show Cathartic to Slide in Sydney, this time taking to the stage as herself.
Cathartic is described as a “unique and exhilarating theatrical experience” in which Alcorn and her three-piece band will give contemporary makeovers to a series of modern day classics, introducing experimental sounds, looping and some wonderful harmonisation. The setlist includes hits by Blondie, Coolio, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Sade, Belinda Carlisle and Quincy Jones. Additionally, the space will be reconfigured to allow Alcorn to perform to an audience in the round.
Alcorn says the show was born simply out of a desire to take to the stage as herself.
“I’ve been touring Australia as The Divine Miss Bette this year and you just get to a point where you want to be you and sing some different songs,” she tells Theatre People.
So, how did she arrive at the setlist for Cathatric?
“I chose material I could relate personal stories and experiences to, songs I’ve grown up with, artists I admire and also some new material that I’ve never performed before written by people I’ve met through touring and traveling,” Alcorn explains.
Asked to single out a particular reinterpretation of a track she’s especially excited for audiences to hear, her response is, “Oh man, so many of them!
“We recently performed at COVERGIRL Beyonce at Slide, which is a celebrity music roasting. Showbiz celebs ranging from news readers to Olympic athletes will take a song by that artist being roasted and rearrange it, so for the Beyonce one, we covered ‘Love On Top’. I had just gotten back from Nashville a week earlier and demanded we give it a country flavour. It’s one of our favourites to perform, so I can’t wait for everyone to hear that.”
Alcorn has travelled the word performing her shows. Is there something she believes distinguishes Australian audiences from their international counterparts in the way in which they respond to cabaret?
“Aussies LOVE to be involved,” she says. “Our audiences give the performers so much energy, so I always look forward to lapping that up when I perform at home.
In July, with Trevor Ashley and George Youakim, Alcorn co-produced From Sydney with Love, a concert staged in Sydney to raise funds for the victims (and their families) of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. It’s an effort that has earned her a nomination for an Honour Award.
“Fundraising is my passion and I believe if you have the ability and resources to help, it’s your duty,” says Alcorn.
“From Sydney With Love was such an incredible experience. Our industry rose to the challenge with open arms which just made our job … possible. The arts community in Australia is so generous and people can never do enough, and I’m talking beyond the stage too. Musical directors, band members, volunteers, arts organisations and, of course, the City Of Sydney came together in the most beautiful way to do what we could.
“We really are so lucky to have the industry we do and I want to thank each and every single person who gave their time to us on that project, and to the audiences who joined us. We did good.”
On the subject of times ahead, Alcorn tells Theatre People 2017 will be a “really exciting year”, but won’t give much more away.
“I wish I could tell you more but it does involve another Australian tour, artistically directing a new festival and some international work, so stay tuned!”
Presented by Tenacious C Presents
Starring Catherine Alcorn
Musical Direction by Jeremy Brennan and Glenn Moorhouse
With musicians Jeremy Brennan, Glenn Moorhouse and Jamie Castrisos
Venue: Slide, 41 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Time: Doors open at 6:30pm for 8:30pm show on Wednesday 23 November
Price: Three-course dinner and show: $89, Show only: $45 (prices don’t include booking fee)
Bookings: www.slide.com.au or by phone on (02) 8915 1899