Songs for Nobodies draws on the extraordinary vocal talents of performer Bernadette Robinson – Season Extended Due To Popular Demand.

Joanna Murray-Smith’s sell-out production Songs for Nobodies featuring the sensational Bernadette Robinson has been extended due to popular demand – 14 additional shows are now on sale from 4 January to 15 January 2011.

When a great singer lets her voice float out over the anonymous crowd, or form the grooves of thousands of records, or flow through radios into millions of homes across the world, she makes countless unknown connections with people. The singer has her story and the listener hers, and should those stories touch each other, there can be magic.

In a series of monologues written specifically for Bernadette Robinson by Joanna Murray-Smith, Songs for Nobodies tells five stories of ‘nobodies’ whose lives somehow intersect with a star. In a recent interview with Julie Eckersley Robinson admits to having her own brush with fame scene: "I first met Audrey Hepburn in a public toilet. I was washing my hands and checking myself in the mirror. I was wearing a new dress and thought I looked quite good. Then, out of a cubicle came this extraordinarily elegant woman. She glided to the taps and we stood there together for a moment before she left. It was Audrey, of course. She was so beautiful that I thought, on glancing at the mirror afterwards, that my new dress suddenly looked rather plain. Later that night I met her officially after she had heard me sing. She was absolutely charming."

The one-woman show highlights Robinson’s talent for impersonating famous singers. Audiences will be treated to her vocal talents as she blasts, wails and croons her way through the best known songs of Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Maria Callas. If you close your eyes, you will be with Garland at Carnegie Hall or Piaf at L’Olympia. Unlike other plays that touch on the lives of these incredible singers, Songs for Nobodies doesn’t focus on their struggles but their music and its meaning for others.

Robinson originally trained as an opera singer under Dame Joan Hammond. "I wanted to do Callas in particular because it takes me back to my classical training. I thought it would be wonderful for the audience to hear her in amongst the other styles."

True to what MTC audiences know of Joanna Murray-Smith’s work, Songs for Nobodies is, Robinson says, "…insightful and heartbreaking and funny. The characters are so wonderful, they make you laugh and cry. They are the nobodies, or rather the every bodies, who have sat by a radio or listened to an album and heard their own story reflected in the words and music. It’s a play about transformation and how people can be changed by a moment."

The challenge for Robinson is to morph between characters, impersonations and songs in an instant. "Once I step on stage I don’t stop. But the songs are like a break for me. It’s the talking bit that scares me."

Having already performed a short season in Geelong, she is clearly proud of the show and thrilled with the creative team she has been able to work with. "The design – by Andrew Bailey – is fabulous. It’s noir and dark and very fifties. And working with Simon -Phillips – has been wonderful. He came up with a zillion ideas of putting the show together. He’s made me feel so wonderful about myself, which has allowed my confidence to grow. As a result I am able to give a much better performance than I may have with someone less talented and nurturing."

The feeling is clearly mutual as Phillips (MTC Artistic Director) recently commented: "Ever since I sat stunned at a Bernadette Robinson concert not believing my ears, I wanted to create a show for her, something that put her miraculous ability to reincarnate the great singing voices of the past into a rich theatrical context. So I knocked on the obvious door. Joanna Murray-Smith’s brilliant talent for channeling not only characters but somehow the spirit of the performer created the spectacularly successful Bombshells for Caroline O’Connor in 2002. Her response to my Bernadette brief was, if anything, even more inspired: she placed the dramatic focus not on the stars themselves but the unknown women for whom these fragile singers were sources of strength."

Acting is not her usual work. Bernadette spends much of her time jet-setting around the world singing. Her ability to imitate well known singers is matched by an incredible ear for languages; she can sing in Cantonese, Hindi, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin and  French. A regular at the Famous Spiegeltent, she has sung at the Davis Cup Finals, as well as with orchestras around the world. She was also a part of the Comedy Company team, employed especially to impersonate rock stars of the day. When asked if she could imagine a life without music Robinson replied: " ‘No, I couldn’t. I sing all the time. When I’m happy, when I’m sad, as I clean, even when I’m doing the grocery shopping. I just can’t help it."

Remarkable women. In Joanna Murray-Smith’s Songs for Nobodies we meet five anonymous women whose brushes with fame had a profound effect on their lives, interleaved with the songs that gave them heart. Songs For Nobodies play at the Fairfax Studio from 5 November to 23 December.

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