Cabaret Interview Caro Meets Children's Show Interview

Ali McGregor: Jazzamatazz

By | Published on Friday 3 July 2015


Here at TW Towers, we are very, very fond of the multifariously talented Ali McGregor, and not long ago demonstrated our love with the bestowal – at the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of years back – of one of our Editors’ Awards.

She’ll be back up in the Scottish capital later this summer, but ahead of that, she’s bringing family extravaganza ‘Jazzamatazz’ to Southbank’s London Wonderground. I asked her a few questions about the show, her career, and life between Melbourne and London.

CM: Tell us about ‘Jazzamatazz’ – what can audiences expect from the show?
AM: ‘Jazzamatazz’ is show of toe-tapping sweet jazz tunes for the whole family!

CM: It’s a family show of course – how do you go about creating something that both children and adults can enjoy?
AM: By not short-changing anyone on the music or the energy. There are old time jazz standards that grandparents will know well, pop re-workings that the parents will get a kick out of, and all the music is playful and great to dance to, which the kids love.

CM: Why a children’s show? Was it something that seemed more attractive once you actually had children?
AM: After performing at the Edinburgh Fringe for many years I started to go to lots of kids’ shows once my daughter needed endless entertainment! I realised that her favourite shows were the early evening cabaret and music ones where she could dance and sing and hear fantastic, quality music. So I decided to create a show at which kids could experience this fun in the middle of the day, but which parents could also enjoy, just as much as an evening gig!

CM: What made you decide to have dancers in this?
AM: Not so much dancers as professional fun-enablers. Having them on the dance floor means that there is always someone for the kids to dance with and encourage them on to the dance floor with some sweet moves (although most don’t need much encouragement!)

CM: Your career has been pretty varied, really, hasn’t it? – most people wouldn’t expect a soprano working in opera to be able to so easily turn her hand to cabaret or theatre. Is there one aspect of performance you prefer to others? When your career began, did you expect to be able to work on such different projects?
AM: I have always just wanted to be on stage, singing, performing and connecting with an audience. I sort of fell into opera after being accepted onto an opera course, and I loved the idea of both singing and creating a character and a story with an ensemble. After six years as a principal soprano with Opera Australia I quite literally ran away with the circus (La Clique, now La Soiree) one night after singing in Massenet’s Manon and discovering the wonders and delights of the Famous Spiegeltent. I love all types of singing and performance, but cabaret’s intimacy and immediacy has a very special place in my heart.

CM: I get the feeling a lot of people find opera to be quite an intimidating art form to get to grips with. Do you think there is anyway to persuade those people to give it a try?
AM: The first show I did after “running away with the circus” was The Opera Burlesque and it was designed to do just that – get people who were scared of opera to see the extraordinary power it can have over you and to show the opera buffs how exciting cabaret performance was.

CM: Did you always know you wanted to be a singer? How did your career begin? Does anyone influence you in terms of performance?
AM: I always felt the need to perform, it was only in the final years of school did I realise I could actually sing for a living. I just wanted to have adventures and challenges and getting up on stage and singing in front of people seemed like the artistic equivalent to bungee-jumping off a cliff. Exciting, dangerous and ridiculous!

CM: You ‘live between’ London and Melbourne these days, don’t you? How is life in London? Do you enjoy it here? What do you like about it?
AM: We live in Crouch End, which is getting more and more hipster by the day, and being from Melbourne, that is my idea of heaven. It is close enough to the exciting arts hub of Soho and Southbank, but far enough away to feel like we are in a village… a big, hipster village…! There are also a heap of creative people here that we know and love, so that makes the transition even easier.

CM: What’s next for you? Do you have any other upcoming projects to tell us about?
CM: It is all about the Adelaide Cabaret Festival now for me. I was recently appointed co-artistic Director (alongside Eddie Perfect) by the outgoing AD Barry Humphries. It is my favourite festival in the world, because it is simply the best collection of cabaret performance you will find anywhere. I now get to go and see as much as I can and book the people that I have loved watching grow into incredible performers over the years. We are also going to try and bring more of a family element to the festival so my work with ‘Jazzamatazz’ is perfect to tap into the little-explored kids cabaret that I’m really passionate about.

‘Jazzamatazz’ is on at London Wonderground until 19 Jul. See this page here for information and tickets.

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