Sharron Assumes the Position
Feb 28th, 2013
International cabaret sensation Sharron Matthews will be the first ever to occupy Buddies’ newly-created Cabaret-Artist in-Residence position and is marking the occasion with a workshop presentation in Tallulah’s Cabaret, called “Full Dark.” “I love Tallulahs. It was one of the first places I did my show almost ten years ago and it is where I feel at home. It is intimate and everyone is part of the show, no matter where you sit. There are some other fine rooms in the city, but this room has an edge,” says Matthews.
Many of the details of this new position are still being worked out, but there will definitely be workshops. “Mainly, this residency gives me a place to rehearse and explore new pieces. It also gives me the space to put new stuff in front of people without the stress of solo producing,” says Matthews.
Matthews is launching herself into her new role with three events: “Full Dark,” a variety night in May called “The Happening” and a third piece that is in the works. “It is my hope that I can mentor young (and not so young, if they are interested) artists in the Buddies community who are searching for their voice in cabaret...and to collaborate with artists who use different disciplines to tell their stories and learn from them,” says Matthews.
“Full Dark” is a cabaret night mixing pop music with a story infused with dark humour. “[I will] use the lyrics to a different end than actually intended or discover the dark intention that already existed. The songs may have started out nice but that is not the way they will stay,” hints Matthews.
Full Dark is March 4 and 5, 8pm at Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St.
Feb 28th, 2013
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012
TNC WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2012 – SHARRON MATTHEWS
The New Current
12-07-19 9:20 AM
The opportunity for TNC to honour some of the most creative and inspirational women performers at Edinburgh Fringe has been two
years in the planning.
Even today female performers can sometimes still become sidelined and from stand-up to cabaret female performers offer in interesting and diverse body of shows at every Edinburgh Fringe.
It is time we addressed this imbalance.
2011 saw shows from exceptional female performers like Diane Spencer, Zoe Lyons and Catriona Knox, to name a few, who’s shows where 10 out 10 leaving audiences in pieces on the floor.
Yet hands down the stand out show of 2011 was from Canadian Cabaret Superstar Sharron Matthews*.
It goes without saying how one finds oneself wanting to just sit back and watch Matthews do her job, the way she creates this world is so intriguing, but with each song and each joke or playful banter with the audience she grabs you in never allowing you a minute to not be part of her show. Vocally Matthews has a strong, measured, and at times haunting voice that carefully weaves a web from her own arrangements of classic songs that give them a whole new spin that leaves you with the impression you’re meant to have and that is awe.
Sharron Matthews shows have a heart, passion, and craftsmanship that adds to the originality of her cabaret. A true Canadian Superstar and a incredible inspiration who can only continue to do spectacular shows as well as fighting for greater support for the arts in her homeland.
By Sara Farb
Jul 11, 2012
Sharron Matthews SuperstArtist
Sharron Matthews, best known as Canada Sings' sassy vocal coach, is at the helm of creating a distinctly Canadian art form through her unique brand of performance. With her latest show, Sharron Matthews Superstar: GOLD, Sharron will introduce the world to Canadian cabaret.
Canada is the homeland of an impressive number of world-renowned artists: Actors such as Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling have earned huge success and critical acclaim; musicians such as Justin Bieber and Neil Young are internationally famous, their music widely played; and filmmakers such as Sarah Polley and David Cronenberg are currently making serious waves in the film industry. Yet as artistically inclined as we Canadians seem to be, we still have yet to lay claim on an art form that is unquestionably and uniquely Canadian. Sharron Matthews, who is soon to launch a round-the-world tour of her show Sharron Matthews Superstar: GOLD, is hoping to change that.
Most of you know Sharron as the effervescent and sassy vocal coach on Canada Sings, which recently completed its second season. But when she's not schooling average joes on how to take the stage like stars and sing with gusto, Sharron is working hard at what is clearly her biggest love: cabaret. But not what we've all come to consider cabaret, she explains. "It's not super show bizzy like American cabaret or burlesque like British cabaret." Sharron's is a decidedly Canadian style of cabaret, one she has worked to craft herself. "It's interactive. It's storytelling at its most intimate and much more comedy-based. Canadians are funny people in our own specific way. We love storytelling."
For Sharron, pop music plays a major role in her performance style. Rather than chaining herself to the demands and contexts of traditional musical theatre or jazz songs — ones we've all heard countless times and countless ways — Sharron prefers the freedom of pop songs. Her repertoire ranges from the Eagles to Lady Gaga. "I find it more interesting to take pop songs and mould them into what you want them to be. They're more malleable, and it makes for much better stories. Like, 'Hotel California' is actually a scary song when you really listen to it." Sharron's signature is putting together what she calls "songologues," which are sort of like medleys but that tell a clear story. For example, Sharron's cougar songologue tells the tale of a neighbour of hers who took a liking to her young and sexy gardener boy (think Desperate Housewives). She interweaves well-known pop songs that mostly have nothing to do with cougars or one another, and yet the story she tells is clear, engaging and downright hilarious.
Sharron attests that "it is hard to build an audience in Canada," but luckily her role on Canada Sings has gotten her much more exposure. As one of two vocal coaches, Sharron and choreographer Christian Vincent are assigned a group of people raising money for a charity, who have no experience performing whatsoever. Their job is to whip those people into shape and have them singing and dancing like pros in a very short amount of time. The show, both "one of the best jobs [she's] ever had and one of the hardest," has had a huge impact on her. "You can't not be inspired," she says, by a bunch of hardworking, selfless people, completely inexperienced in performing yet shelving their insecurities to accomplish a common good. "It shouldn't work." Based on the show's popularity, though, it clearly works like a charm. And it's not just all hard work and emotional tears at Canada Sings. Sharron says working with stars like Vanilla Ice — "That is one good-looking son of a b****" — and Jann Arden has been a total thrill and so much fun. And it's rather serendipitous that those two stars join Sharron on Canada Sings: She credits Vanilla Ice as being one of the first people to do a mash-up (an amalgamation of two songs Sharron often includes in her shows), and she has always been inspired by Jann as a performer, who at concerts will "tell a hysterical story and then sing the most depressing song. Like a cabaret."
As for her own cabaret, Sharron is excited to commence the tour of GOLD, her most exciting show yet, which will feature golden music hits and stories about gold diggers. As Sharron simply puts it, "You can't get better than gold." After some upcoming dates in Toronto, Sharron goes to Scotland for its world-famous Edinburgh Festival, then London, then New York and finally Cape Town, South Africa. She is looking forward to globe-trotting, but most important, she can't wait to share her proudly-made-in-Canada show with the rest of the world. "We are on a precipice where we can brand our own version of [cabaret]." Sharron is clearly at its peak.
If you're in the Toronto area and want tickets to Sharron's show, call the Buddies in Bad Times box office at 416-975-8555. Follow her on Twitter @sharronmatthews, and check out her website sharronmatthews.com for a full list of dates.
July 12, 2012
MESSIANIC SHARRON MATTHEWS Canadian Performer Rises Above the Rest
Sharron Matthews wants you to feel like a superstar. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian. “How exactly does someone become a celebrity for making a sex tape?” the Hamilton-born chanteuse fumes. “I watched it, for research pur- poses only. And the only interesting thing about it is that they’re both chew-ing gum the entire time.”
Matthews won’t say whether K-Kard and company get a mention in her cab- aret spectacular, Sharron Matthews Superstar: Gold. But given the subject matter, audiences shouldn’t be surprised if the sibling celebutantes feature.
“It’s got gold hits and gold diggers,” Matthews laughs. “But it’s also about people who try to steal your personal gold, those things that make each of us unique.”
Self-actualization through storytelling and song is Matthews’s trademark. She cut her teeth as an actor for large-scale musical theatre at 20 while still a student at Sheridan College; her first Broadway gig came at 24. Though Matthews says she enjoyed playing to thousands and the commensurate paycheque, she gradually realized it wasn’t for her.
“I’d wanted to be on Broadway since I was a child,” she says. “But after a while I realized it wasn’t who I was. I wanted to create my own material, rather than just interpret other people’s. Striking out on my own forced me to find my own voice.”
Matthews’s show features quirky interpretations of cabaret standards, with sprinklings of Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Queen and Radiohead. The show’s Toronto premiere launches a three-month tour, which will take her to Edinburgh and London, UK, followed by Cape Town, South Africa. Though she’s warbled many a tune in Great Britain, the Rainbow Nation will be a whole new playing field.
“They said I couldn’t be blasphemous or profane, so I sent them a list of words to see what’s okay,” she says. “I checked to see whether I can say ‘shit’ or ‘bitch.’ I’m hopeful for ‘fuck,’ and I’d like to throw out ‘cocksucker’ if I can.”
Though Matthews still finds herself in bigger houses occasionally, it’s that small-space intimacy she’s shooting for regardless of venue size. When she launched her monthly Sharron’s Party cabaret series at the Gladstone Hotel in 2005, she developed what became a career-long habit: greeting audience members individually pre-show.
“I was so nervous when I started working on my own, and talking to people on a casual level before the show was a way to combat that,” she says. “The first few minutes of any performance is always about trying to win the audience over. But if they feel a connection before you hit the stage, you’ve already got them in your corner.” Since she folded Sharron’s Party in 2010, in favour of less frequent though more complex shows, she’s adopted the Lloyd Webber-esque moniker Sharron Matthews Superstar.
Could this be a sign of a messiah
“I’m a spiritual person and I believe in the goodness of my fellow mankind, but I’m not trying to save the world,” she laughs. “I’m trying to take over. It’s not a messiah complex. It’s a Madonna complex.”
NOW Magazine Article
Cabaret strikes Gold
Sharron Matthews reaches back to the old hits to gain Superstar status
By Jordan Bimm
NOW Magazine July 19th-26th, 2012
SHARRON MATTHEWS SUPERSTAR: GOLD by Sharron Matthews. Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). To July 22, Thursday to Sunday at 8 pm. $20. 416-975-8555.
Sharron Matthews redefines the cabaret genre, mixing stand-up, storytelling and song classics.
When saucy cabaret singer Sharron Matthews debuted her solo show World Domination back in 2010 at the Edinburgh Fringe, the title was clearly tongue-in-cheek hyperbole. But now, with a string of hit shows and upcoming gigs in New York, London, Cape Town, and this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, world domination actually seems under way.
Last week in Scotland, her new show, Sharron Matthews Superstar: Gold, was tipped as one of 50 to see (out of over 2,000 shows vying for attention) by local tastemaker weekly The Scotsman.
“I had a little cry,” admits Matthews – who’s also a vocal coach on CTV’s Canada Sings – after learning the news. “To go from playing the smallest venue to Edinburgh in 2010 – from begging people to come see my show – to now playing the best venue, and making the top 50, is amazing and really gratifying.”
Her upcoming four-night stand at Buddies gives Toronto audiences a sneak peek at Gold, which stays true to her signature blend of storytelling, stand-up, and super- charged cabaret-style cover songs, and gives her the chance to work out kinks before she takes it on the road.
“Buddies is where I’ll perfect the show,” says Matthews on the phone. “My tried and true fans will be there, so it’s the perfect place to fine-tune things”.
Gold finds Matthews’s observational humour reflecting on people she deems “gold diggers” and “gold stealers” while belting out about 20 “gold hits,” all shameless covers of guilty-pleasure pop.
To keep things fresh, she’s added a few new songs to her repertoire, but part of the point of Gold is to resurrect old songs fans have been requesting from past shows. “When I sat down to put it together, I was going over some emails I got after Edinburgh last year. People kept requesting three songs from my last show [Radiohead’s Creep, The Eagles’ Hotel California, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody], so I thought, ‘These are my solid gold hits! I’ve got to bring them back!’”
A pioneer of cabaret in Canada since the early 1990s, Matthews has worked hard to make the often difficult-to-pin-down genre more accessible and mainstream.
“Starting out, I quickly realized people didn’t want to come out to see something called ‘cabaret,’ because they thought they were going to see a crazy, androgynous German or some New Yorker in sequins. I did my first show in a talk show format, because that was something people were comfortable with. I also made sure to sing songs that everyone knows.”
In the decades since, alongside a smattering of roles in big-budget musicals and feature films, Matthews has earned a reputation for her seemingly limitless onstage energy and confidence – a reputation that’s inspired a daring “satisfaction guaranteed.”
“If you don’t like my show, I’ll eat a bug,” she deadpans. “If you don’t get at least one or two gut laughs out of it, see me after the show and I’ll eat a bug to cover your 20 bucks. That seems fair to me.”
Hamilton native a hit at Edinburgh festival
By Samantha Craggs, CBC News
Posted: Aug 14, 2012 8:40
It wasn't always easy for Sharron Matthews growing up in Hamilton. But instead of running from it, she's turned it into a cabaret act.
In Sharron Matthews Superstar: Gold, the comedian and songstress tells sometimes painful stories of bullying and teasing, adding the music and humour that has made her one of the top acts at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe this month.
Performing to sold-out crowds, Matthews tells stories that may be specific to her experiences growing up on the Mountain. But the feeling is universal, she said.
From speaking to audience members, she's learned that “almost everyone, even the prettiest girl and prettiest boy, has had a bullying problem at some point.”
Matthews is a stand out this month in a festival with hundreds of acts. Most shows draw only a handful of spectators. Matthews, thanks to positive reviews and word of mouth, has been playing to standing-room-only crowds.
While some of the stories are funny, others are painful. In one performance on YouTube, she describes someone posing on the phone as the boy she liked to say he was interested in her.
When she got to school on Monday, she learned the person on the phone was an imposter playing a joke on her. She ends the story by launching into a modified version of “Creep” by Radiohead.
Her father died when she was two. That led in part to a need for attention that set her up for teasing, she said.
Out of the past
“When people see you are in desperate need for approval and to be included, kids see that as a red flag sometimes and exploit that,” she said in an interview from Scotland via Skype.
“There were a lot of people who would take my vulnerability for granted.”
But the insecurity is behind her now. As an adult, Matthews has an enviable resume. She stars in the Global TV series Canada Sings. She has
appeared in films such as Mean Girls, Cinderella Man, Take the Lead and Hairspray.
On stage, she has played Madame Thenardier in a North American tour of Les Miserables, and performed in Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the
Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat and the Wizard of Oz.
This fall, Matthews will take her show to South Africa and London, England.
Her success brings joy to Bill Cook, her drama teacher at Hill Park Secondary School. Cook, a Stoney Creek resident who retired in 1995, remembers when she first walked into his classroom.
“She walked in for the first show and said 'I'm going to be the lead,'” Cook said.
She was first cast in the school production of Guys and Dolls. She went on to play the Wicked Witch in The Wiz and Miss Hannigan in Annie, among other performances. “She was up there among the cheerleaders and she couldn't have cared less,” Cook said. “She just had a way of wrapping you around her little finger when she was onstage.”
These days, Matthews is proud of her Hamilton roots. At every performance, she is introduced as Sharron Matthews from Hamilton. “I couldn't be prouder,” she said.
Her advice to Hamiltonians?
“Keep having art in your high schools,” she said.
And “I hope Hamilton is encouraging of their young people when it comes to doing things that seem a little different.”
June 3, 2011
Written by Sharron Matthews
Last year, I took my solo show, Sharron Matthews Superstar: World Domination Tour, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
When I arrived, the buzz in Edinburgh was that Meow Meow’s show, “Feline Intimate”, was the show to see at the festival in 2010.
“Who the fuck is Meow Meow?”, I thought.
I attended her show late one night and, oh, I found out.
This woman, this Meow Meow, is a tornado or tsunami (and/or an explosion of some sort ) of fabulous, dangerous, cutting edge cabaret and performance art.
She was hysterical, shocking, heart-wrenching, crazy, manic, still, quiet and loud as a fucking bullhorn...basically ALL the things and emotions, people.
She was so revolutionary as an artist, I think (I know) I cried.
Here are a few moments that stopped her killer show:
1. Halfway through the show she body surfed ON the audience to the bar for a drink...AND BACK to the stage!
2. She had about 20 people from the audience standing in front of the stage holding Barbies doing a kick line with their little plastic legs because she said the producer hadn’t given her any money for the showgirls she required.
3. Meow Meow changed from one dress to another while perched on the shoulders of an audience member in the VERY CENTER of the audience. She crawled across the first 8 rows to get to this position. She stripped down to almost nothing. And then sang a song with one luscious breast peeking out. Accidentally.
AND I haven’t even mentioned her singing.
She sang every song as if it was the last she would ever sing on this blessed earth. Full throated, head thrown back, with the edge of one who has sipped back a very expensive scotch and smoked a cigar. She performed in style of Brel, of Berlin, of opera and of old school European cabaret.
She won the very prestigious Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize in 2010 for her show.
I met her after the show and giggled like a 14 year old.
And she is coming to Canada to perform, bitches.
So, before I called her for this article, I agonized over the questions I would ask, how smart I could try and make myself sound. Would I tell her that I am one of the hosts of “Broadway’s Night Out”, the event she is performing in on June 13th (part of Luminato at Metro Square)....lord.
Me: “Can I please speak with Meow Meow?”
She: “This IS Meow Meow, Darling.”
Me: (I pee a bit.)
She: “Darling, you just caught me waiting for a plane at Heathrow”
(She sounds very fancy and international at this point. But not gauche.)
We talked for a half an hour about Cabaret... “Dangerous, the audience needs to know that anything can happen”, “It is about a passionate relationship with that audience” We talked about Lady Gaga... Because after I saw Meow Meow’s show it hit me that Gaga had MORE than been inspired by her. When I mentioned this to her, she laughed smartly and told me that Gaga lived in her accompanist and collaborator Lance Horne’s building in New York and had come to all of her shows. “There is room for everyone to create.”, She said diplomatically.
We talked about a lot more.
Okay, I took the job of writing this article so I could talk on the phone with her...is that so wrong?
Come to the show, people, you will see what I mean.
She is divatastic.
A true artist.
You will also pee.
Theatre: Home for the Holidays with Horton
The Toronto Star
November 8th 2011
Sharron Matthews and George Masswohl horsing around on the set of Seussical at Young People's Theatre. DANIEL ALEXANDER PHOTO
Broadway may have Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs as their musical theatre married couple, but so what?
We've got Sharron Matthews and George Masswohl, who are every bit as talented and a lot more cuddly, which is something to consider, now that the nights are getting longer and colder.
You've got an excellent opportunity to see them in action right now at Young People's Theatre, where they're currently performing in Seussical through Dec. 30.
The show is based on the beloved work of Dr. Seuss and combined several of his best-known stories to make a musical with a score by the Ragtime team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.
The work was originally developed under the banner of Garth Drabinsky's Livent in its final year and it reportedly received a spectacular workshop with a book by Eric Idle and a knockout turn by Andrea Martin as The Cat in the Hat.
But Livent soon dissolved, Idle was bumped off the project and Martin decided the atmosphere was growing too fraught for her, so she departed, to be replaced by the mime, David Shiner.
By the time it opened on Broadway late in 2000, the show had switched directors, choreographers and designers, never a good sign. The reviews were terrible and even Rosie O'Donnell's cheerleading (and eventual performance as The Cat In The Hat) didn't save the day and the show closed quickly.
Years have gone by since then, however and theatres devoted to young audiences have discovered that a lighter, less overblown Seussical is just the thing for their audiences.
YPT had a big success with a 2006 version of the show and now they're bringing in back with the same leading man, er, elephant, but this time his wife is along to share in the fun.
Masswohl is once again the lovable Horton (he who hears a who) and Matthews is the flashy Mayzie La Bird (she with the dazzling tail). It's a chance for them to make beautiful music together, which they always enjoy doing, especially at YPT and over the holiday season, something they've had the chance to do on several occasions now.
"It's a great experience," offers the big-hearted Matthews, "being with people you love at this particular time of year and I always love working with George."
"We leave each other alone, mostly," agrees Masswohl, "and it works out smoothly most of the time."
"EXCEPT," begins Matthews in her train-stopping voice, "when my beloved husband turns to me in rehearsal and says 'I think I have something to tell you and I don't want you to get mad.'"
"I didn't say that," objects Masswohl. "Oh, well actually, I did. But it was just about a note where you were a tiny bit off pitch."
"And I was," laughs Matthews, "so I fixed it."
The couple has been together 19 years and it's easy to see that, both from their breezy camaraderie and their sensible attitude about working together.
"We don't bring our work home," says Masswohl.
"No need to at all," agrees Matthews. "Work is work, home is home."
"Besides," Masswohl reminds her, "There's nothing to bitch about."
"It's a great work experience," Matthews concurs. "And besides, when we get home, we've got more important stuff to talk about: dogs, bills, mortgages."
"Let's stick with the dogs," advises Masswohl.
Matthews is one of this country's most talented cabaret performers and she's been extremely busy this past year, appearing on Global TV's Canada Sings, as well as taking her unique musical entertainments to New York, London and Edinburgh.
"I'm going back to Edinburgh again next summer," she vows. "I absolutely love it there and I think they like me too."
She's being modest since she's played there the last two years to 90 per cent business and rave reviews.
Back home, her gigs have usually been one or two night affairs to a devoted following, but she assures her fans that she's looking at "a longer run where I can settle down in a theatre and let people know that I'm there."
Her husband never has any trouble attracting first-rate musical theatre roles around the country, but he's putting all that on the back burner for a while in 2012 to work on what he describes as "a baritone trio. You know we've had the Canadian Tenors, but what about us baritones?"
So he joined together with Lawrence Cotton and Curtis Sullivan to form a group called Bravura which started spreading their wings in 2011 and are planning bigger things for next year.
But right now, it's time for a matinee of Seussical and the two of them can't wait to hit the stage.
"It's very joyous working at this theatre at this time of year," says Matthews.
"And being with each other," adds Masswohl.
Here are the two articles that Sharron had published in Scotland during the Edinburgh Fringe:
Insider's insight: Canada's cabaret
comedy diva Sharron Matthews
Source: The List (Issue 686)
Date: 10 August 2011
Written by: Sharron Matthews
The high – and low – notes of life on the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe
You know my fave place to take a nap in Edinburgh? The hill right beside the Half Price Hut on Princes Street: it is soft, it is shaded by trees and if you place yourself properly, no one can see you sobbing into your phone on a million dollar phone call to Canada … on a cell phone … from Princes Street Gardens … in EDINBURGH!
When you are a new, international performer at the Fringe, like I was just last year, and no one knows you, you have got to fill those seats. Being the performer, producer and promoter, this gal (me) had to come up with a plan.
After battling my jet lag (I know, boo hoo for me, right?), I tried my wares in the Fringe ticket
line-up for three hours on my first day. It was not going well. Not well at all – like super bad. I stuffed my sweaty-handed flyers in my bag and took off in a funk. I walked and walked (Edinburgh is freakin' hilly) and ended up on the aforementioned hill, questioning my existence, my reasons for coming to the Fringe, the clothes that I packed (sundresses and open-toed shoes) … and then I pulled out my recently purchased cell phone and called my husband in Canada, and just cried and complained … and cried … and whined.
All the tourists were staring at me.
So what, people? Have you never seen a grown woman in a sundress (with sport socks, trainers and a hoodie) have a good cry in public?
And then I turned my head … there it was … the Half Price Hut. Like a beacon. Like a
mirage. Like a place for me to figure out how to sell my freakin' show.
The people in this line-up, they wanted to be won over, they wanted the show before the
show, they wanted to pretend not to look at you, they wanted you to make them love you and they wanted it all for half price. Those minxes: they're like a slutty boyfriend who you know will put out eventually, but just needs to be convinced that it's worth the bother to take off their clothes.
Let it be said that I sold many a ticket there. I sang all of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' for one dude.
This year, I want to sell all my tickets for full price. Greedy, I know. But I'll maybe go and
have a skanky cheat with the Half Price Hut a couple of times for old time's sake.
Sharron Matthews Superstar: Jesus Thinks I'm Funny, Space Cabaret @ 54, 0845 557
6309, until 27 Aug (not 21), 8.05pm, £12.50 (£10.50).
Preview > All of life is here in cabaret, old chum
All of life is here in cabaret, old chum
By Sharron Matthews
Source: The Scotsman
Wherever it's listed in the programme, Sharron Matthews thinks the genre has something for everyone (whether or not you want nudity).
LAST year I brought my show to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time, and made a vow to see as much cabaret as I could. For a Canadian gal who had been exposed only to North American cabaret, Edinburgh was an International Cabaret Candy Store - I was freaking excited.
During the first four cabarets I attended I saw eight naked people singing. An average of two naked people to a cabaret.
They didn't start naked, they got naked as they sang and performed their cabarets. I raced back to the student flat I was renting (it smelled like the feet of 20-year-old boy) and looked up the definition for cabaret on the Google.
Cabaret, noun - entertainment held in a nightclub or restaurant while the audience eats or drinks at tables, it said. Nowhere, nowhere did the online dictionary say that the performers remove their clothes. I passed out, came to - and then I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought I had missed a naked memo.
That, my friends, was the first lesson I learned at the Edinburgh Fringe: seeing a cabaret means you might see someone's private parts while they sing a Judy Garland song and/or while they are lip-syncing to Kylie Minogue (and aren't, surprisingly, a drag queen). In Canada, seeing a cabaret means you might possibly, and quite accidentally, hear a jazz song. Not as dangerous as the nakedness, I know.
My brand of cabaret continues to evolve in Canada, but right now I would say we are the less sequined, earthier, yet still fabulous sister of New York cabaret. Pop songs, classic rock, R&B, funk, metal, punk, all reinterpreted. Intimate, interactive, bawdy, racy and story-driven. We are still largely undefined, which I think is thrilling.
After seeing a tonne of cabarets I learned lesson No 2: Everyone, all over the world, holds a different definition of cabaret. Meow Meow = Gothic and Old School Fabulous. Alan Cumming = New School New York. Camille O'Sullivan = Beatnik Goddess and Rock Star.
After that first day of full frontal cabaret nudity, (which I am not against, just surprised by all the nether regions) I quickly changed the branding of my show to a comedy cabaret, hoping people would understand that I would not be displaying my naked bits. (Not that they aren't fabulous and worth a look.)
Meanwhile, because I am not a well-known artist here, I decided to sign up to perform at as many cabaret/variety shows as I could, to get bums on seats (and then out of seats as quickly as possible.) I love the variety cabaret! You can see so many artists, and if you don't like someone, it is over blessedly quick. See Lach's Antihoot, Gorgeous George Cabaret, Edinburgh Tonight.
Here are some of my highlights of doing cabaret last year.
Highlight 1: Watching a host come on stage to introduce their show in an outfit that I couldn't quite figure out - and then realizing that it was a replica of a vagina, and that her head was... well, I am sure you get the picture.
Highlight 2: I ended up doing a number of these variety shows with the same entertainers. One was a comedian, who had a sitcom in the US and is quite well known there. I was putting on some lipstick in the dingy kitchen of a church where the variety show was taking place and I heard crying behind me. When I turned around it was this famous-in-the-US comedian.
I asked her if I could help her out and she just exploded. "I assumed that the people who brought me here would be promoting me! That I wouldn't have to do all of these gigs! I have ten people in my audiences! And they don't get me here, they don't laugh! They just sit there and look at me. And I burst a blood vessel crying last night. And the worst thing is... do you know what it is? I didn't know my show needed an name! I would've called it 'Sold Out' or some thing!"
And then she asked if she could borrow some of my MAC Wonderwoman lipstick.
Lesson No 3: just because you are a fancy comedian from the US (or anywhere else), don't assume that you will be a hit. There are almost 3,000 shows, we all gotta work it, lady.
This year, for the first time, there is a cabaret section in the Fringe programme. The Fringe office contacted a number of artists, including myself, to ask what we thought of the idea. Would I advertise myself in it?
That was a tough decision. I want to hang with my cabaret brethren, but after a lot of (overly dramatic) soul-searching, I decided to put myself in the comedy section this year, as did many other artists who I would consider cabaret artists.
Look back to lesson two and remind yourself that cabaret means so many different things to so many different people. It can be confusing. Also, sadly, that word "cabaret" can scare people away. Last year, while flyering the Fringe line-up, I heard a lot of "That's not what I'm looking for" when I asked ticket buyers if they wanted to see a cabaret, but then if I put the word "comedy" in front they would listen - even though it would still be the same show. I didn't change it, just changed the way I sold it. But I am, and will always be, a cabaret artist.
Who am I Iooking forward to this year, you might ask? Evelyn Evelyn, the world's first conjoined twin musical duo (starring Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls and Jason Webley); Pistol and Jack, listed (in the comedy section) as cabaret mash-up artists, and Eat Your Heart Out, because it looks naughty, and after last year I would be sad if I didn't get to see a bit of naughty flesh. I do quite enjoy it really, in my own Canadian way.
Finally, remember Lesson No 4: There are no freakin' rules. See all the cabaret you can! Who knows what amazing artists you might discover? And you just might see some skin, people.
Broadway World Interview:
June 2, 2010
article written by Kelly Cameron
BWW Interviews Sharron Matthews
Sharron Matthews is getting ready to take over the world CABARET STYLE! Well-known in Canada as one of the country's greatest Cabaret artists, Sharron has been wowing Toronto audiences with her unique Cabaret evenings and amazing vocal styling for years, and now she is taking her show on the road for her World Domination tour! Sharron landed in NYC on Monday and plays her first gigs at Joe's Pub this weekend!
New York Magazine has raved that "you never know what you'll find next at Joe's Pub, but you can count on the fact that it will be very very good." Those of us in Canada already know that a night out at one of Sharron's Cabaret's is a fantastically good time, and now New Yorkers will have the chance to experience her unique style, humour and amazing voice first-hand.
Sharron received tons of support from Broadway veterans such as Sutton Foster and Louise Pitre in order to secure the gig at Joe's Pub, and once she is done in NYC she is off to the world's LARGEST arts festival The Edinburgh Festival in Scotland from August 16th to the 28th.
While getting settled in NYC, Sharron was kind enough to speak to BWW about her upcoming show, as well as about what she plans to do while she visits the Great White Way.
You have officially landed in NYC - what was the first thing you did when you hit the Great White Way?
Honestly, I went searching for food and ended up at one of my fave family burger joints at Broadway and 76th - Nicks!!! No fries though. After that I headed up to Birdland.
Any plans to see any shows while you are here? If so, what's on your list?
I am ALL cabaret ALL THE TIME while I'm in NYC. I have plans to be at The Metropolitan Room, Jim Caruso's Cast Party, Joe's Pub - I will be out all night every night so I must pace myself. I would love to see Everyday Rapture if I can find the time, and the Addams Family since I'm fascinated by it. That show goes back to my 70's TV watching!
You are going to be playing your first ever gig at Joe's Pub, a very popular spot for Broadway stars and lovers of Broadway in general. What can the people of NYC expect if they come out to see you?
They will hear fabulous and interesting arrangements of old and new songs by artists like Radiohead, Queen, Styx, Britney Spears and Nirvana. You can be uber pleased if you are the first one to figure out what the song is! You don't have to know the song in order to get my story. In between the songs I might talk about my obsession with all that is pop culture - my love for Madonna and Shirley Bassey at the same time - my obsession with Charlie's Angels - and how a young man named Ed Wills saved me from total High School Dance humiliation and what the movie Helter Skelter means to me. Literally, a mixed bag of awesomeness with something for everyone!
Is your show going to be tweaked at all for an American audience?
Not really! I am just going to make sure that if there is a Canadian reference it's made clear - although to be fair, I don't even know where Nunavut is, or how to spell it! I believe that my show appeals to a broad audience, that has been my plan from the beginning.
Since you are in NYC - could we find out a bit more about you and how you feel about the city? What are the top 5 things on your list of things to see/do?
Well, I love love love NYC! From my very first visit in 1994 when I saw Miss Saigon and had the good fortune of seeing Billy Porter do one of his first cabarets I have been hooked. I can walk 100 blocks and it seems like nothing because there is so much to see and do here. I love to just walk around this city. And Times Square! Love Times Square. I have been here one day and everyone I have met in the Cabaret community has been so welcoming and helpful, it really is wonderful.
There are some things I must ALWAYS do when I come to NYC though and I don't want to miss those things. It all starts with food, and I'm not going to apologize for that:
1. China Regency across from Carnegie Hall has the best spring rolls in the world...
2. Ray's Original Pizza has the best cheese slice in the world!
3. After my show at Joe's Pub on Sunday night I will get everyone who is there to come with me to my favourite place (IN THE WORLD) ... Marie's Crisis Café in the Village. It's the best piano bar in the basement of a brownstone, you never know who you will see there.
4. I will go to the music store Colony and look through all the music
5. I will go and visit the Penguins at the Central Park Zoo. I really love that zoo! A Canadian composer/lyricist team just wrote a fabulous musical about those penguins, so that can all tie into an afternoon in Central Park.
Finally, to celebrate your time on the Great White Way, top 5 Dream Broadway roles? Past or Present...
1. Dot in Sunday in the Park
2. Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar
3. Queenie in Andrew Lippa's Wild Party
4. Mama Rose in Gypsy
5. The Leading Player in Pippin
NiteLife Exchange article .: NiteLife Exchange
article written by Daryl Glenn
BWW Interviews Sharron Matthews
Although the NY Cabaret community may not yet be aware of Sharron Matthews, she intends to fix that right quickly! This terrifically warm, funny and talented lady has just landed in our fair town on the second stop of her Madonna-inspired World Domination Tour, and I had the good fortune to share an hour with her upstairs at the Iguana Café, as preparations for the evening's entertainment (2010 MAC Award-winning variety show Wednesday Nights at Iguana) were swirling all around us.
Ms. Matthews hit the ground with both feet running, appearing in a number of different venues all leading up to the main event, a two day stint at famous Joe?s Pub at The Public Theater this coming Saturday and Sunday. As we spoke, she had already warbled at Birdland on Monday evening, traded barbs with Seth Rudetsky and Tony Nominee Kate Finneran on the radio that morning and still had to run downtown to participate in Porno Bingo at Pieces Gay bar on Christopher Street, before returning to Iguana!
"I have a horrible potty mouth," she warns me (and usually her audiences) right from the start, and what she does is not what is considered traditional cabaret. In reality, before she established her long-running once monthly program (five years, first at the Gladstone Hotel and then at the much larger Buddies in Badtimes Theatre), most folks in Toronto hardly knew what cabaret was. To combat this, she produced an evening that pulled together elements that were familiar (a late night talk show format, special guests, more contemporary songs and even a buffet!) that became an immediate hit. She believes "Cabaret is intimate performance," and it doesn't much matter what style of music is being presented. She likes to cater to all different sensibilities, personally gravitates toward classic rock and roll and is, in fact, suffering a bit of a headache from indulging in a few too many obligatory head-rolls while belting out Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" at Birdland. This Toronto Diva, often referred to as the "Queen of the mash-ups" for her propensity to blend a number of divergent tunes into one, has been thoroughly enchanted by the warmth with which she has been greeted by everyone in the New York cabaret community and is particularly impressed by the size and caliber of the musicians who participate in the many open-mic nights around town. When she popped in to check out the room at Joe's Pub, the staff could not possibly have been more accommodating, she tells me.
Apart from being the reigning Canadian Cabaret Queen, Matthews is also a well known member of the thriving film business in Toronto. She has had roles in the motion pictures Mean Girls, Cinderella Man and Hairspray, among others, appearing alongside the likes of Tina Fey, Russell Crowe and John Waters (who flashed her in the film version of his hit Broadway musical). She also had the pleasure of sharing the screen (and dressing room) with lovely Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth while filming television's The Music Man, who she applauds not only for her down-to-earth relations with the cast and crew, but also her public stance against a recent notorious article concerning gay actors playing straight in Newsweek Magazine. In addition to all of this, she has had the time and good fortune to appear in the North American tour of Les Miz with Colm Wilkinson and the Toronto stint of Hal Prince's Showboat with Elaine Stritch. Born in Hamilton, Ontario ("the Buffalo of Canada!"), she resided in the "suburbs" for fourteen years with her actor husband, before they took a fabulous downtown Toronto loft to be closer to their work. There she found great inspiration in being right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the big city, realizing that it caused her to "write more, become more brave" and see that "more was possible." Although the framework for her current show is set, it often changes nightly depending upon the mood of the day, drawing from a base of over 35 songs. But no matter where she is or what happens to come out, whether it be Toronto, New York City, Edinburgh or London (all stops of her World Domination Tour), she promises, "If people come, I guarantee they'll pee their pants!"
Toronto Star article
.: Toronto Star
March 16, 2010
article written by Richard Ouzounian
Watch out, Edinburgh. The Canadians are coming
It looks like two of this city's leading ladies will be deserting Hogtown this summer for the lowlands of Scotland.
Both Kristen Thomson and Sharron Matthews have been invited to take part in this summer's Edinburgh Festival.
Thomson will be at the Festival proper, performing her Canada-wide success I, Claudia in the legendary Assembly Hall from Aug. 6 through 31.
After that, a month-long tour of England is to follow, with a run in the West End of London as the planned-for final destination.
This is the same Crow's Theatre production, directed by Chris Abraham, that was such a triumphant part of Young Centre's season last year and has been earning rave reviews from audiences and critics alike since it debuted at Tarragon Theatre in 2001.
When I first reviewed the show, I called Thomson's portrait of a young girl coping with the aftermath of her parents' divorce "blissfully funny and unexpectedly touching," and it remains that nearly a decade later.
While Thomson is shaking up the venerable festival with her work, Matthews will be doing the same thing at the more rough and ready Fringe.
Her multifaceted cabaret performance that has been delighting Toronto audiences for years will be at The Space@Surgeon's Hall, Nicolson St. from Aug. 16 to 28.
Her Scottish appearance will be part of what Matthews — with her typical gift for understatement — is calling her "World Domination Tour," beginning with her debut at Joe's Pub at the New York Public Theatre on Lafayette St. on June 5 and 6.
If you'd like to see what we're sending abroad these days (and would like to help her raise some money for travel expenses, since the Canada Council has denied her any help), drop by Buddies in Bad Times on April 16 and 17 to share in the fun.
The Record article
by Colin Hunter
The Record Staff
Comic Matthews gets the last laugh
A true showbiz diva might have stormed offstage in disgust.
The microphone was on the fritz, audience members were strolling in late and the lighting cues were off -- more than enough reasons for a prima donna songstress to throw a hissy fit.
Sharron Matthews is a diva, yes, but not that kind of diva.
When her mic went haywire during her sultry opening number Monday night she just sang an impromptu lyric -- "Something's wrong with my (bleepity-bleeping) microphone" -- and grabbed a backup mic without missing a beat.
As latecomers tiptoed to their seats in the Waterloo Entertainment Centre, Matthews again improvised, mocking them with exaggerated eye rolls and sarcastic glances at her watch (or the spot on her wrist where a watch would be).
Call her a pseudiva -- a starlet who's got all the talent but none of the 'tude. Anything, it seemed, was fair fodder for a gag. Her performance Monday, dubbed Sharron's Halloween Party, was the first of four gigs at the Waterloo Entertainment Centre over the next two months, culminating in a New Year's Eve gala.
Her comic cabaret-style shows have become cult favourites at clubs around Toronto, partly because they gently mock cabaret-style shows.
Matthews has a world-class singing voice -- honed in such lavish Toronto productions as Les Miserables and Beauty and the Beast -- but she has no qualms about using it to perform Devo's Whip It or Let's Get Physical by Olivia Newton-John.
The result is a show that is equal parts standup comedy, vocal concert, talk show and controlled chaos.
Using a medley of reinterpreted '80s pop ballads, Matthews regaled the audience with true tales of adolescent traumas like high school dances and her first kiss. Fittingly, she calls such medleys "songologues."
Accompanied by pianist Steve Thomas, who deftly kept up with the singer's improvised tangents, Matthews showcased a vocal range that shifts from opera to pop in nothing flat.
Matthews' showbiz resume boasts an impressive list of stage and screen performances, including movie roles alongside Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man) and Antonio Banderas (Take The Lead), but she clearly hasn't let it go to her head.
That was obvious even before the opening curtain. For starters, there wasn't really an opening curtain at all -- instead, Matthews mingled the crowd before showtime, doling out hugs and learning everyone's names before taking the stage.
In an impressive display of recall, she often addressed audience members by name during the show, picking out "volunteers" for interactive moments.
Matthews also acted as a kind of MC for the night, introducing and interviewing a pair of guest performers -- Broadway actor Julie Martell and Stratford favourite Bruce Dow.
Both added touches of seriousness to the evening, demonstrating vocal versatility that their roles in larger ensemble productions don't often allow them to showcase.
Matthews lightened the mood again with her glowing, if a little too honest, assessment of Dow's performance:
"When he hit that high note all my hair stood up and I peed a little bit."
When it was time for a show-closing audience singalong (to Kenny Loggins' Footloose, of all things), Sharron's Halloween Party felt like just that -- a party. And a killer party at that.
.: article written by David Bateman
Toronto / Thursday, December 04, 2008
'Make me fabulous!'
Cabaret / Sharron the love of musical theatre
After attending a few of the musical parties Sharron Matthews has thrown over the years it is difficult to know how to respond when she looks at you during an interview and says, "Make me sound fabulous and not like an asshole." It's this kind of comic humility and mild self-effacement, with a dash of exaggerated emotion, that makes her the kind of performer who can only sound but fabulous. Trained at Sheridan College in the musical theatre program and currently completing a semester as pop music instructor, Matthews began her cabaret, Sharron's Party, at the Gladstone Hotel two years ago. Last June she moved to Buddies in Bad Times where she held her first Sharron's Big Gay Party. On Fri, Dec 12 and 13 her Tallulah's Christmas show promises to titillate and thrill with a string of naughty carols and fabulous guests that include Sarah Strange, Teresa Pavlineck, Ian Simpson and opera luminary Jean Stilwell. Last June's Big Gay Party really didn't look much different from any of the other shows that are consistently "festive, fabulous and naughty." Matthews has cultivated a powerful fondness for the gays over the span of her 20-year career. She considers her strongest relationships ("after my husband" of course) to be with gay men and has deep feelings about the community that just seems "to get the humour, the music" that she loves to showcase. Expect amazing singing. A fall show at Tallulah's had Brent Carver singing "Ten Cents a Dance" and an astoundingly beautiful theatrical rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Take This Waltz." Matthews interviews her guests onstage and manages to get juicy tidbits from one and all. While interviewing Carver she recalled her stint as Dora MC last year and described how he leapt from his seat and began to dance along as she entertained and MCed. Nominated for her performance as the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz she came onstage after losing out to another performer and quipped, "Anyone interested in buying a used witch's costume?" She handpicks her cabaret guests: Some are unknown burgeoning singers ripe from an audience participation event; some are the greats of Canadian theatre. Jeigh Madjus, a promising newcomer to the musical theatre scene, with a history of cruise ship entertainment, did a wonderful impromptu rendition of "Do Re Mi" one night and became a featured performer a few weeks later when he wowed guests with complex pop and theatrical numbers. On more than one occasion shows have included some of the contestants from the reality show How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria? Matthews speaks candidly of her love/hate relationship with the reality program as well as the recent The Sound of Music production itself. "Captain von Trapp and Maria reminded me of someone and I couldn't figure it out," she says. "And then it hit me! Céline Dion and René Angélil... Dirty." She also did her own campy version of "Do Re Mi." Matthews feels she celebrates her "disgruntledness" with the Broadway megahit. "We all think we could do better." The Maria contest winner and current star, Elicia MacKenzie, won Matthews over with her reality show rendition of "You Needed Me" for its honesty of expression — something that lends itself well to the role of the ingenuous alpine nun. Matthews is unafraid to critique superstars far and wide with a brash, loving intensity that is never cruel but always comically scathing. Meryl Streep's bubbly yet bewildering performance in Mamma Mia was treated hilariously in a recent show. "She can come to my show and tell me I stink," says Matthews. "At least I can say Meryl Streep came to my show." During one performance her signature "song-alogue" featured autobiographical memories of a childhood attachment to Michael Jackson. Her medley of Jackson favourites from "Thriller" to "Billie Jean" showcased her ability to mix witty self-written monologues with interpretations of popular songs, turning them into layered anthem-like tributes to some of the most memorable moments in 20th-century music history. With the support of pianist Wayne Gwillam (recently at the Shaw Festival and about to join The Sound of Music in 2009) and gorgeous gowns from Fashion Crimes, she is a delicious diva to be reckoned with. Don't miss her upcoming Christmas party. If you're feeling weary and in need of a little sweetness and bitchiness mixed into one fabulous Yuletide spectacle then this is the seasonal show for you.
Sharron's Christmas Party.
$20. 8pm. Fri, Dec 12 & 13.
12 Alexander St.
.: Toronto Star
Aug 19, 2006
article wrttien by Rita Zekas
size zeroes eat cake
When we attended Sharron's Party, Sharron Matthews'
cabaret show at the Gladstone
several months ago, we remarked on how sexy she looked
in her dominatrix meets Donatella ensemble: a black
pencil skirt topped by a black pin-striped corset.
"It's the waist cincher," she demurred.
The outfit came from Fashion Crimes at 322 1/2 Queen
West, which we'd always associated with clothes for
stick figures. We'd shopped for accessories there
like the faux fur floor pillow the size of
King Kong we hauled home in a body bag.
Matthews is not gargantuan but she is curvy. Fashion
Crimes designer/owner Pam Chorley had always cut for
her own body, which is like a swizzle stick. Not anymore.
Chorley's designs now accommodate up to size 16.
In addition, her sales staff comes in assorted body
types, so you aren't intimidated by someone in size
zero telling you disdainfully to try Chubbettes R
Us on the next block.
Fashion Crimes is like a fun ride at an amusement
park crossed with a bordello. The Star photographer
is afraid to come in; Store Gazing is heady with marabou.
"Every time I come into this shop, it takes me
half an hour to take everything in," Matthews
says. "I'm over stimulated."
She is shopping for something to wear to her Aug.
28th cabaret show, whose drop-in guests include Thom
Allison and Bitter Girls Alison Lawrence and Mary
Fashion Crimes has been a fixture on Queen West for
almost 25 years. It relocated to its present space
just over two years ago after a fire gutted the old
location across the street.
"This location was established as a kid's store
(Misdemeanours)," explains Chorley. "I design
and manufacture everything. We do pattern making and
can make anybody look their best. It's not all on
the rack; we can custom make in a day or two. If you
need it tonight, it can be hemmed or a neckline dropped.
We also have a prom registry so we don't sell the
same dress to the same prom. We can fit (everyone)
from newborn to when you no longer have a pulse."
Matthews emerges from behind the curtain of the dressing
room in a white patterned dress with black crinoline
underneath that makes her look like a funky shepherdess.
"I love the dress then they give you the
gloves, the crinoline," she says.
She looks amazing in a drapey, '30s bias cut dress
that Jean Harlow would have plotzed over had she worn
"I've never been to a store that has so many
choices," Matthews swears. "Every dress
I take in, I'm terrified won't fit me and 9 times
out of 10, it does."
She describes her look as "bohemian chic, especially
since I started shopping at Fashion Crimes. These
girls dress to celebrate every day."
We spot Teresa Pavlinek, star of The Jane Show on
CBC, poking through the racks. She's also a Fashion
"When I was searching for wardrobe (for past
shows), I had Fairview Mall," she jokes.
Matthews does two costume changes during her cabaret
"I feel like I'm the super hero of dressing.
Everything I put on in Fashion Crimes makes me feel
like a woman so sexy. The audience can tell;
it changes your attitude. My husband (actor George
Masswohl, whose credits include lead role in Sweeney
Todd at CanStage) says that when I put on my cabaret
clothes, I become fearless. I don't feel I need to
Matthews has been doing the cabaret circuit and open
mike nights from Vancouver to the U.S. She attended
Sheridan College for theatre and is the quintessential
Canadian hyphenate: singer-dancer-actor.
"I started tap dancing at age 5," she recalls.
"I was too intimidated by ballet because all
the girls were so teeny. I always wanted to perform
I never felt like it was a choice."
Her first show was 22 years ago at age 15 in Hamilton.
"I started cabaret when I did Show Boat at the
Ford Centre 12 years ago. I played Lottie, one of
the girls who took Captain Andy (Robert Morse) to
Palmerston House on New Year's Eve. My costume was
cut to the navel, with six underskirts and a 12 foot
ostrich feather boa."
She recalls whining to Elaine Stritch, who played
Captain Andy's wife, about how hard it was trying
to get cabaret mounted in Toronto.
"She said, `Boo, hoo, hoo. You'll just have to
Matthews played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables
in Toronto and in the North American tour; Babette
in Beauty & the Beast; and The Narrator in two
runs of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Her film works includes the role of Joan, the secretary
in Mean Girls, which starred Lindsay Lohan.
"I've always been a character actor rather than
the ingénue," she says. She appeared in
Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe; Kojak with Ving
Rhames; Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas; and recently
had scenes in Camille with its star Sienna Miller.
"I'm a paramedic," she explains. "I
spent five hours in an elevator with Sienna Miller,
who is no bigger than a peanut."
Miller might have had a tryst with her co-star James
Franco after all. Heard (not from Matthews) that Franco
was licking her leg at the film's wrap party. Then
again, could be Miller had spilled ice cream on it.
Matthews has eight days of singing and dancing on
Hairspray, starring John Travolta. "There are
150 of us, all character people. I have a scene with
John Travolta and the Tracy Turnblad girl. I play
Mr. Pinky's cashier."
Which means she'll need more dancing shoes. Matthews
confesses that she loves to shop. And her weakness
"Shopping is the only thing that makes me feel
better when I'm blue especially when it's a
bargain," she explains. "You can get big
or small, but your feet never change size. If I feel
fat, I buy shoes. I lost 65 pounds over the last four
years. I'd quit smoking and was touring with Les Miz
and I packed on the pounds. Buying these cabaret clothes
gives me an excuse to buy shoes for every show.
"I have 12 pairs of evening shoes. I love four-inch
heels. For years, I didn't think I could wear high
shoes but Thom Allison said, `You know you mean business
when you put on five inch heels.' I dress for him."
And for Paul Burwell, her accompanist. And he for
"My leopard skin outfit brought water to Paul's
eyes. He gets T-shirts made with things like 'Sharron's
Matthews shops Winners and Le Chateau. "I've
never been in a fancy store. I am not a label whore.
This is my favourite shirt: I got it at GAP for $8.
If I had a lot of money I would buy all my shoes at
Working in Canada means doing cabaret one day and
the next day, being on set on Cinderella Man with
"I was a Church Lady," she recalls. "I
did five days and ended up on the cutting room floor.
You can hear my Brooklyn accent float by in one scene."
Meanwhile, it's come to the cabaret, old chum.
"My dream for a cabaret show is to look like
Carrie in Sex and the City but my version. Sarah Jessica
Parker (who plays Carrie) also has curly hair. I did
The Music Man with Matthew Broderick (Parker's husband).
She was seven month's pregnant in a red teeny top
with overalls and six-inch high heel shoes."
Store Gazing succumbed to a pair of pointy-toed leopard
ankle boots at Fashion Crimes. Since it was in the
line of duty, we plan to try to expense them.
Rita Zekas, The Toronto
Toronto Star article
.: Toronto Star
Dec. 1, 2005
article wrttien by Richard Ouzounian, Theatre
is a `labour of love'
There's going to be a lot of parties happening this
month, but it's a safe bet that none will be quite
like the one Sharron Matthews is planning to throw.
The star of many of Toronto's best-known musicals
(Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast,
Show Boat) is switching to cabaret mode and
offering a pair of distinctive experiences Dec. 4
and 18 at Tallulah's Cabaret at Buddies
in Bad Times Theatre
with Sharron's Holiday Party.
"I tried to figure out what would be different
than just coming to see someone in a club" said
Matthews on a recent break from rehearsals. "So
I decided to make it like The Dinah Shore Show.
There's some interviews, prizes, a sing-along and
maybe even a few more novelties. David Rogers and
David Warrack are going to come by one night and they
plan to play Stump The Musical Singer, which should
be a hoot."
Matthews has also lined up such local notables as
Blythe Wilson, Bruce Dow and Avery Saltzman, so there's
bound to be plenty of talent around.
Matthews will rightfully be the main attraction. Known
for her versatility in drama as well as comedy, she
says that she approaches each song in a cabaret,"as
if I were playing a different character each time
around. That means it's like I was doing 30 different
plays in a night."
It was the lack of variety that caused Matthews to
become a bit disenchanted with the theatre after her
series of long runs, but once she started appearing
in shows with limited engagements, she confesses that
"I've grown to love musical theatre again."
But while Matthews admits "there's something
about cabaret that makes me feel this what I really
should be doing," the economic realities of it
"mean that it's a real labour of love."
She was encouraged in her belief by a pep talk from
one of the giants in the field Elaine Stritch.
Matthews had worked with her on Show Boat,
but hadn't seen her in nearly a decade. Earlier this
year, she went to N.Y. to audition for a show and
found herself watching Stritch at the Carlyle Hotel.
Afterwards, Matthews went backstage. "I was trying
hard not to feel typically Canadian. I didn't want
to get in the way. But I told her how awesome she
was, trying all the while not to gush."
Stritch's assistant knew Matthews and prodded her
to tell Stritch about her own experience doing cabaret.
"I told her about my experiments doing it here,
but how there aren't really any rooms in Toronto for
people who specialize in cabaret and that I'd tried
it and I hadn't been exactly triumphant."
"She went silent. Then she looked at me and said
`Well, with all you've done, I guess you've got to
just f---ing keep trying.' She has a way with words,
"But afterwards, I couldn't sleep. Excited, daunted,
scared, but I knew I had to try it."
This series of evenings is the result of Stritch's
intervention and Matthews' determination.
"I know there's an audience out there. When we
did Jason Robert Brown's Songs For A New World, the
college kids absolutely came out of the woodwork as
well as the more traditional musical theatre audiences.
"People will come to cabaret. They just have
to get used to the idea that something is happening
on stage that's unique, live, unpredictable. Something
they couldn't experience by sitting home and playing
The distinctive Matthews laugh rings out. "Hey,
I'm even going to help to seat them when they get
to the theatre. I want them to know there's something
special happening here."
The Toronto Star
.: Hamilton Spectator
March 8, 2005
article written by Gary Smith
Singers give polish to forgotten gems
Want to pretend youre in New York?
Maybe in the fabled Oak Room of the classy old Algonquin
Hotel, watching some sophisticated caberet show?
You dont need to spend next months mortgage.
As little as 20 bucks will get you in. Two 10s will
buy a ringside seat in the Studio at Theatre Aquarius.
Thats where Sharron Matthews and George Masswohl
are singing their hearts this week.
What You Dont Know, a terrific little cabaret
show that had its genesis at Tallulahs Cabaret
in Toronto, is delirious entertainment. Masswohl and
Matthews, Hamilton-born entertainers whove played
Stratford and New York, have come home with a mavellous
love song to musical theatre.
In the course of 90 minutes or so, this captivating
duo sings the socks off songs from mostly failed Broadway
shows. and believe me, the songs are quite brilliant,
even if the shows they punctuated failed to make the
June 25, 2003
article written by Gary
George and Sharron take T.O.
This Hamilton-born couple gave Toronto terrific theatre
music last week. So why do we have to go down the
QEW to catch these stars?
I hate to write to write a column telling you what
you missed, but in this case its necessary.
Hamilton-born performers George Masswohl and Sharron
Matthews played a two-night gig in Toronto last week
in Tallulahs Cafe at Buddies in Bad Times. And
frankly, it was terrific.
If you didnt take my advice and catch one of
their sold-out shows, you missed out on one of Torontos
more interesting evenings of musical theatre.
Matthews, a graduate of Bill Cookes Hillpark
Theatre program, is a stunning performer who has played
locally in the Theatre Aquarius production of Joseph
And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Her hubby, Masswohl, who did lots of Hamilton area
theatre in his youth, had a big success in the Aquarius
drama Of Mice and Men before moving on to leading
roles at Stratford and a recent star turn in Stephen
Sondheims Sweeney Todd.
Singly these performers are exciting. Together they
Their Toronto gig, What You Dont Know Shows
That You Havent Played T.O., is quite simply
a blockbuster. Its filled with magnificent moments
from failed Broadway musicals, such as the exotic
New York stunner Sideshow and that eccentric failure
A Class Act.
From brilliantly conceived songs such as Come Look
At The Freaks and The Next Best Thing To Love, created
for such ambitious but troubled shows, Matthews and
Masswohl fashion a medley of musical theatre genius.
By liberating such songs from their emotional and
physical context, they allow them to float free in
the imagination. And quite frankly, its wonderful
to sit back in a cabaret theatre and feel reasonably
assured youre not going to hear anything that
sounds remotely like Annie or Oliver.
There are so many interesting musicals beyond the
stale and familiar that never see the light of day
in Toronto or Hamilton that you despair for the commercial
greed that keeps recycling the same few.
To hear even some of the songs from William Finns
brilliant A New Brain, or Michael John LaChiusas
Hello, Again is to understand that there is a new
musical theatre that exists beyond the trite and ordinary.
Masswohl and Matthews feign a delightfully easy stage
presence that reflects their personal chemistry.Neither
needed the intrusive microphones that at times interfered
with the generous subtleties of their vocal histrionics.
Each of these performers has power to spare. and there
were moments when the show required a tightening of
pace, a less folksy, here we are guys, plan of attack.
But these are niggling criticisms for what was a daring
and risk-taking evening of theatre.
Masswohl and Matthews even managed to make duds like
Alone In The Universe from the ick-making Seussical
and the title tune from The Wild Party, a frenetic
musical moment at best, still zing with imagination.
Now the deal is What You Dont Know would fit
so neatly into the Studio Space at Theatre Aquarius
and provide local musical theatre fans with a terrific
program of showstoppers from shows that often stopped
before they really got started.
I dont know who we have to encourage to bring
this beguiling evening to Hamilton, but I dont
see why Toronto should be the only place to benefit
from Masswohl and Matthews. dont we have the
right to hear these local theatre star sing the socks
off some terrific theatre music without having to
Maybe we need to lobby Theatre Aquarius to bring this
act home? What do you think, gang?
.: Hamilton Spectator
article written by Gary
Sharron revels in a romp on
the seedy side with disco dollies and drag queens
Sharron Matthews is getting out her black leather.
The Hamilton-born singer with the big voice, is currently
on stage in the musical version of the Craig Russell
cult film Outrageous.
Playing a leather dyke in a grungy gay bar, Matthews
is having the time of her life.
After roles in Hal Princes version of Showboat,
not to mention the musicalized Les Miserables, shes happily set loose in a raunchy, rambunctious romp.
Its a musical that takes her to the heart of
Torontos seedier side.
Disco dollies, drage queens and leather dykes inhabit
this culture of passion and pain. Yet Outrageous,
for all its raunch, is basically a love story, non-sexual
Growing up on Hamilton Mountain, Matthews admits she
was sexually naive.
I had no idea about drag queens and stuff. I
went with my mom to the hairdressers every week,
somewhere on the Mountain. And I met all these great
guys. Some of them quite gorgeous. I wondered why
they didnt have girlfriends. It took me long
time to catch on.
Like a number of young performers Matthews began her
theatre experience in high school, Hill Park to be
exact. With drama teacher Bill Cook to guide her,
she fell in love with the Broadway musical.
He did a big one every year. And believe me
he was very good. He used to beg, borrow or steal,
trying to get the money to put a show on. He loved
theatre so much, he made me love it too. And in a
high school world, where the arts didnt count
for too much, he made me feel I belonged. I guess
you just have to find your own niche. Theatre was
that for me. Thank goodness there are a few teachers
who understand that. Bill always said, Embrace
who you are. Just be yourself. You cant
know what that meant to an awkward, young teen.
From Hill Park, Matthews found her way to Sheridan
College where she perfected her art. Amazingly, she
went straight from the Oakville school to her first
professional job, a stint in Hello, Dolly! at The
Limelight Dinner Theatre in Toronto.
Believe me it was tough. The Limelight was hardly
the apex of bigtime theatre. People used to light
up during the show and blow smoke in your face. But
I learned a lot there. It was baptism by fire.
Matthews, married to fellow Hamilton actor George
Masswohl, says she has no idea why so much talent
comes from Steel City.
Maybe its becaue people are so supportive
of young performers there.
Her own journey, from the Limelight to major roles
in Les Miserables, Showboat and Beauty And The Beast,
was pretty swift.
Ive been lucky to work with people whove
been generous with their wisdom. And I think I have
hope for the future. But like most performers I live
from day to day. Its right now thats important
to me, not something down the road.
Right now for Matthews, is the Toronto production
of Brad Frasers Outrageous.
I think its going to be a very big musical.
Well, thats what I hope. The book captures the
feel of the film, and the music, techno-disco in style,
frames the piece. As you might expect, given its
dramatic proportions, itsa musical of emotional
highs and lows.
Matthews sees it as a return to musicals about personalities,
Dont get me wrong, I loved doing all those
big Broadway shows, but in a way theyre like
clockwork. Theres little room for deviation.
If you saw Les Miz here, you saw the same show youd
see in Tokyo. Everything moves to a very ordered plan.
These shows are about ensemble, rather than individuals.
Outrageous goes beyond that, back to a Broadway that
allowed its performers to take centre stage.
For Matthews, Outrageous remains remarkably faithful
to Richard Benners 1977 film, as well as Margaret
Gibsons stories in The Butterfly Ward, which
inspired the whole thing.
Its raucous, but its also very sweet.
the story of a troubled schizophrenic girl and drag
queen hairdresser is amazingly moving. Its a
story about changing, about knowing who you are. Ive
worked with drag stars like Bitch Diva, and in some
ways, what they do is a particular form of art. Its
isnt just about a man wanting to be a woman.
Its a very specific form of performance. Women,
after all, dont dress the way someone like Craig
Russell did on stage. Its a heightened form
Matthews thinks its a mistake to connect Russell
too closely with the musical Outrageous.
He was an actor playing that role, it wasnt
about his life after all. Certain parallels do however
apply. Russell wasnt treated as a performer.
He was treated as a freak. He couldnt break
away from that image, and its probably what
destroyed him in the end. A lot of these boys go through
such hardships. It theyre gay they feel rejected.
And sometimes they feel theyre not manly enough,
whatever that means.
Its not just about being gay. theres
a definite order here and drag queens are often treated
like dirt. Im not a gay man, so I cant
make any real judgements. Although sometimes I feel
like one. We wont tell George that will we.
He need never know.
A big laugh erupts from Matthews throat.
Oh, by the way, she adds, Im
coming back to Hamilton for Joseph And The Technicolor
Dreamcoat at Aquarius in December. Now, theres
a stretch. From the leatherbar to the Old Testament.
article written by Stewart Brown
Happy among Les Miserables
When Sharron Matthews was five years old, her mother
took her to Hamlton Place to see song-and-dance man
Lionel Blair in one of the English pantomines he headed
I went up on stage with other kids and Lionel
centered me out. He sat me on his knee and talked
to me in front of the audience. Matthews recalls.
I remember looking into the wings and seeing
all these dancers with their painted faces and thinking:
This is the coolest thing I could ever want.
Sharron Matthews whi is Madame Thénardier,
the innkeepers wife in Les Misérables
these days would return to the stage at Hamilton
Place, mostly in summer musicals as a performing teenager.
But its on the stages of Toronto and North America
where shes made her professional mark, in musicals
large and small.
Large such as two versions of Les Misérables,
including the current Toronto run with Colm Wilkinson;
two years in the Harold Prince revival of Show Boat
at North Yorks Ford Centre, and Beauty And The
Best at the Princess of Wales Theatre where she played
the vivacious duster, Babette.
And small such as a much applauded Toronto
production of Falsettos at the Tarragon Theatre in
which Matthews portrayed a lesbian gourmet cook, and
The House of Martin Guerre by the Canadian Stage Company,
in which she played the confidante of a woman whose
husband returns from the wars drastically
The result is that Matthews, 30 next month, is one
of those live-theatre rarities a professional
actress who knock wood, as is her habit
keeps busy most of the year.
This week the Hamilton native talked about her career
in a reception room off the lobby of the Princess
of Wales Theatre, where the only North American touring
company of Les Misérables with Wilkons
repeating hi London and Boradway role of Jean Valjean
and a handful of Canadians, including Matthews, in
featured roles continues to Nov. 29.
As the innkeeping team, Matthews and American J.P.
Dougherty as her husband dominate the musicals
comedy spotlight, regaling the audience with the boisterous
and bawdy novelty song, Master of the House.
A few hours before an evening performance, Matthews
was dressed informally in blue jeans, short white
top, revealing a bare midriff, and long-sleeved orange/rust
shirt. She sat barefoot, cross-legged, sipping from
a bottle of water, beneath a framed colour photograph
of Diana, the late princess for whom the theatre is
Matthews reckons her penchat for comedy and character
acting has a lot to do with her frequent employment.
Everybody wants to be the ingenue in the beginning,
the pretty girl singing the pretty song. But comedy
is what I do best and Ive been very lucky.
Its been that way since early on. Growing up
in the Birdland area of Hamilton Mountain,
where the streets are called Tanager and Bobolink
and Titmouse, she cut her acting teeth in musicals
at Hill Park secondary school Guys And Dolls,
The Wiz, Grease and Annie staged by drama teacher
The stage had ruts and the backstage was covered
in graffiti and I remember, like, eggs being
stuck to the ceiling! But Bill Cook managed to a musical
on there every single year. He made theatre so exciting.
Thered been dance lessons (Ballet was
hateful, but I really like tap.) And more musicals
downtown at Hamilton Place, where another teacher,
David Dayler, assembled promising area teens for what
would turn into hi New Faces program.
It was there, in 1984, that Matthews first worked
with a chunky actor named George Masswohl; 10 years
later, the two would be married.
Matthews still keeps close Hamilton ties. One of her
two sisters, Gwen Filice, is a secretary at Westdale
secondary school. Her mother, Margaret Humphrey, works
just up Longwood Road at Canco. A second sister, Kim
Vitanze, is a housemom.
For Matthews, musical theatre studies at Sheridan
College beckoned for three years, followed by dues-paying
jobs in smaller Toronto venues. Hello Dolly, at the
Limelight Dinner Theatre, got Matthews her Actors
The first mega-muscial break came when she joined
Les Miz as a swing performer, backing up all ensemble
roles, in 1991.
That was still my best experience on stage,
in terms of pure youth and exuberance. The entire
exeprience of riding the subway to the Royal Alex
Theatre, of coming out and singing that music, seeing
all those people ???? I did was exciting, from going
into the dressing room, to them giving me a robe!
Matthews says all bifg musicals were different.
Its like going to a different high school
every few years. The place, the layout, the management,
the director, the interactions are all different.
I count them all as life experiences.
In Show Boat, Matthews played a good-time Chicago
girl named Lottie, who with her girlfriend, Dottie,
squired Robert Morses Capn Andy on New
Robert Morse has more fun on stage than any
person I know. Hes a vaudeville performer. His
timing is amazing. and sometimes he can find it in
himself to get the dramatic stuff come across too.
But mostly what hes worried about is whether
hes going to get the laugh or not.
Elaine Stritch, who played his wife, took cast
members out in groups of eight to her favourite restaurants.
Shed hire a limo, plus her own, which she got
every night. shes talk about Cole Porter and
Cy Coleman and Julie Stein, but she was never pretentious
After two years in Show Boat, Matthews wanted a rest,
and she planned to holiday in California while hubby
Masswohl, whod joined the show late in its North
York run, continued with it in Los Angeles.
But Beauty And The Beast, which was recasting in Toronto,
wanted Matthews to the man broom called Babette.
I turned them down three times before they gave
me an offer I couldnt refuse. All I could think
of was putting on my resumé: Sharron Matthews.
Fork. Or Spatula. And I didnt know how
I felt about that.
It turns out she enjoyed the run.
Its by far the most glamorous role Ive
ever had, mostly for the costume.
I even hit high-C every night. I have no idea
how. I should be a soprano but Im more like
mezzo-alto with some high notes. In Les Miz, though,
Im just basically screaming!
Matthews planned to spend this summer relaxing on
Prince Edward Island, writing material for her own
one-woman show while Masswohl who was at Theatre
Aquarius in Rock And Rol last season worked
in Johnny and Melinda and Anne of Green Gables at
the Charlottetown Festival.
But Les Miz came calling. She joined the company seven
weeks before the show opened in Toronto, playing Mobile,
Tampa, and Oklahoma City before St. Paul, where Wilkinson
was worked into the muscal.
Colm raises the stakes in the show tenfold,
Matthews says. Hes not a man who backs
off. His energy is so unbelievable. Hes so committed
to the piece, so committed to what he is doing.
Shes not sure what will happen beyond the Toronto
run. She can continue with the North American tour,
doing 13 one-week stands but doesnt have to
make up her mind until a few weeks before the Royal
For the truth is, mega-musical fame and employment
are a two-sided proposition.
Its amazing, Matthews notes, especially
with both George and I doing it.
You cant get this money anywhere else,
especially with what Im doing now; an American
tour in my hometown, so that Im getting a per-diem
I mean, we have a car, a Honda Accord. At one
point, we had two cars, but then I thought Who
are we? We dont need two cars! So we got
rid of the Jeep.
Were planning to buy a house. We have
some beautiful antiques that I know some of my friends
cant afford. I dobt want to wear it like
a badge, but I do like looking around the place.
But there are drawbacks. Im married, but
dont get to see my husband as much as I like.
Matthews and Masswohl, in fact, hadnt worked
together om teenage shows at Hamilton Place until
they shared three weeks in Show Boat and, the 1997
Toronto run of The _____ of Martin Guerre.
But, says Matthews, Id rather
be with George and be apart for a little bit of time
than be totally without him.
Boredom also colours the long-run scene.
After a year in a show, you really have to check
your soul. You have to say; OK, am I doing
this show because I am enjoying myself? Or am I disliking
my job and only doing it for the money? I dont
think enough people ask themselves that.
Matthews has her own personal trick to maintain interest
in a show eight times a week.
I really try to make something new for myself
to work on every night. For example, I want the audience
to see the difference between who Madame Thénardier
is the little child, who she is with patrons at the
____, and who she is with Thénaedier.
Or I make sure I hit all my consonants but dont
tell anybody else. I just want to put the stakes up.
And the thing is, if I go out and dont
have a great show, I try not to beat myself up about
March 10, 2005
article written by Kerry Corrigan
What You Dont Know is that this is a pretty
nice night out at the theatre
Apparently there are a whole bunch of musicals produced
every year that we never hear of shows that
close early, making little splash, or no splash at
all. some may have deserved to end their runs as soon
as they did; others probably could have found an audience
eventually, and may yet some day.
Sharron Matthews and George Masswohl felt that there
was enough good music in these lesser known musicals
to craft a grab-bag of songs for an evenings
entertainment, and they were right.
What You Dont Know, in a short, week-long run
in the Stage Write series at Aquarius, is an infectious
collection of unreleased songs, each painting a visual
Exploring the nether regions of musical theatre,
the duo, accompanied onstage on a baby grand by Music
Director John Hughes, posses the strong voices absolutely
essential to deliver the ballads and comedic tunes.
From the opening number Freaks, from the
play of the same name, the duet were confident and
polished, melding their voices beautifully. The next
song, Two of a Kind, described them perfectly.
Masswohl and Mattthews are a married couple who met
in 1985 working on the first season of Hamiltons
New Faces, which was a local endeavour that introduced
young kids to the demands of professional theatre.
Theyre both familiar to Aquarius audiences.
She was the Narrator of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat; he was Captain von Trapp in The Sound of
Music, as well as Lennie in Of Mice and Men.
They bridge the songs with playful repartee that borders
on a mutual appreciation society, often sounding more
scripted than off-the-cuff. Still, burns and Allen
werent built in a day, and odds are that if
these two keep it up, the banter will become more
easy-going and less ingratiating.
Matthews signature is her breezy, sparkling
approach, which works well in this setting. Masswohl,
meanwhile, has matured into a formidable, leading
man type and, with that rich voice, his limits are
boundless. they each add the pizazz needed to present
these mostly unknown works.
The one exception to the little-known
criteria is a selection from Wicked, the prequel to
The Wizard of Oz which is making so much noise in
T.O. right now. (The only number from the whole evening
that I recognized was the wonderful Alone in
the Universe, having been lucky enough to catch
a smashing production of Suessical at Waterdown High
School last weekend.)
Other than those, plays like The Wild Party and She
Loves Me might only be recognizable to Broadway aficionados.
But songs like I hate Musicalsif
I wanted helicopters, Id go to an airportand
Ilona, while not familiar, still
stuck in the mind.
Having only snippets of shows can get a little frustrating;
one of Matthewss best songs, from a show called
Is There Life After Highschool?, made one want to
know more about the character.
They dont aim their mark too high, just at a
congenial night cabaret-style entertainment that suits
the venue. And maybe it will prod one of the local
musical theatre groups to take a chance on a new work,
rather than re-treading the tried and true ad infinitum.