Trampolinist (former), gold medal-winning Olympian (retired), meth addict (sober) and Dancing with the Stars star (runner-up) Matthew Mitcham takes us Under the Covers with his second cabaret show, covering his decision to retire and live as an adult.
Joined by Matthew Ogle on piano, bongos and other instruments and Sparky (Rhys Morgan), Mitcham takes us on a warts-and-all journey of a very unsexy mid-life crisis, under the guise of an on-stage therapy session.
Obviously the biggest change in Mitcham’s life since his first cabaret outing (Twists and Turns) is his decision to retire from diving. But what led to that monumental, life-changing decision?
Hoping for ‘The Perfect Day’ (Legally Blonde), Mitcham went to his 10-year high school reunion to receive praise and accolades for diving accomplishments and get redemption for being mercilessly bullied during high school.
Instead, he found himself surrounded by doctors, lawyers and optometrists, humble bragging about how they got their life together and were successfully adulting. Mitcham started to question the real value of a gold medal.
From that point on, Mitcham’s life breaks free from his tightly managed daily routine and he starts to explore a life outside and beyond diving.
He explores in ‘Dumb Ways to Die’, with his own lyrics added, as he trials and errors at being a grown up and received divine intervention with a call to appear on Dancing with the Stars.
Even though he was hugely successful at this new endeavour, deftly demonstrated by a highly entertaining salsa routine with Spanky, his diving suffered and even though the AOC offered Mitcham special qualifying consideration for Rio, fear and a self-preservation mode led him to make the decision to retire.
As he beautifully delivered Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, Mitcham takes a big dive into real life, real decisions and reality.
But first, as he prepares for his inevitable TV stardom, his first sleep-in in 20 years is followed by watching 919 episodes of TV, which leads into an very amusing and well-constructed medley of TV show theme songs including Golden Girls, Big Bang Theory and Friends.
Reality slowly sets in for Mitcham as the phone doesn’t ring and the countdown to Rio progresses and in one of the most beautiful numbers of the night, Mitcham delivers Alanis Morissette’s ‘All I really want’.
Ultimately Mitcham does go to Rio, but his first foray into TV stardom does not go to plan, so he is left wondering if he wasted the last year of his life chasing a pot of gold instead of chasing gold.
Mitcham then brings to the stage a haunting ballad rendition of Whitney Houston’s classic ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’.
At the end of the show, the conclusion that he comes to is that you could spend your life being afraid of what’s next and failing, or accept and embrace that eventually everything falls, and it’s all about being a good example (or a horrible warning).
Mitcham wraps up the show with two adorable numbers, ‘Do Your Thing’ by Basement Jaxx (in a glittery jacket so red I thought I was at Kinky Boots for a second) and then Dolly Parton’s ‘Dumb Blonde’ – which he sings in four different languages (you can watch this on YouTube here).
Mitcham continues to improve as a theatre performer and delivers this show with his heart on his sleeve and soul naked for all to see. He for sure can dance and his voice continues to go from strength to strength. Someone needs to hire him in a major comedy musical stat, I’d love to see what he would do in something like Spamalot.
I didn’t quite connect with the Spanky character and at times felt like she distracted from the show, rather than adding to it. Ogle was delightful as the third character on stage and was the good ‘straight’ foil for Mitcham and Spanky.
Under the Covers could benefit from a couple of edits and sharpening points, unless it was opening night jitters all around. Still an enjoyable way to spend an hour in the company of Mitcham, who I expect will continue to do great things in this next chapter of his life.
MATTHEW MITCHAM’S UNDER THE COVERS – SEASON DETAILS
Venue: Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point
Date: Playing now until 23rd July