REVIEW: “Girl Crush an Intensely Personal Cabaret” 4 STARS (out of 4)

Written by Louis B Hobson for the Calagary Herald

Girl Crush, the cabaret Sharron Matthews created for Lunchbox Theatre, is as achingly personal as it is immensely entertaining.

Matthews, who has been called Canada’s gift to the world of cabaret, has wowed audiences in the United Kingdom, across Canada, in South Africa and in New York but for years she has wanted to bring her cabaret to Calgary.

That dream came true two years ago when Lunchbox’s out-going artistic director Mark Bellamy invited Matthews to be part of the 2015 Suncor Stage One Festival of New Works.

With his guidance, Matthews created a cabaret for Lunchbox, and what a show it is.

It’s part stand-up comedy, part musical mash up and a very large part autobiographical.

To introduce herself, Matthews opens with Wig in a Box, that confessional anthem from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

As with all 14 songs in the show, Matthews instantly makes Wig in a Box her own.

It’s about how she was initially more confident on stage than off.

Those wigs let her be someone else and someone she could make people love.

It’s her way of letting us into the tragedy of her youth as an awkward duckling.

When she sings Kim Carnes’ Bette Davis eyes it’s about how intoxicated she was as a child with sexy screen sirens, especially Farrah Fawcett Majors.

Her patter with the audience during this song was a way to find out how many people were on the same page with her references and, to her delight, the audience gladly answered her questions.

Matthews talks about not liking herself because she was ashamed of her body image, so when she sings Charlene’s 1977 hit Never Been To Me the lyrics become so poignant.

She could travel the world but never get away from her feelings of insecurity.

She has a hilarious routine centred around The Police’s Roxanne when her older sister tells her that her newly acquired anthem is about a prostitute.

Her revenge is to bump and grind her way through Blondie’s Call Me.

Nothing I can say will let you know how deeply affecting her version of Jessie’s Girl becomes.

It’s obvious Matthews loves an audience and certainly knows how to work one.

By the time she gets to Girl from the Gutter, Matthews is everyone’s best friend and we want her to get even with those four mean girls who tormented her so mercilessly in Grade 4.

Matthews had the audience laughing raucously until she got midway through her routine about bathing suits and then she tugged at the heartstrings.

We didn’t feel sorry for her.

We identified with her and were tearing up as much for ourselves as we were for her.

This is a show about a performer opening her photo album and sharing photos and stories with us, and that’s precisely what J.P. Thibodeau’s set allows her to do.

The back wall is a collage of picture frames allowing Matthews to show us pictures of her old screen idols, those mean girls, her own elementary school photos and her two bathing suit photos.

There is a downside to Girl Crush.

It ends far too quickly.

Sure, Matthews does one encore, but it’s not nearly enough seeing that in just 50 minutes she becomes an old friend not just a dynamite cabaret star.

As soon as Girl Crush ends its run at Lunchbox Theatre on April 8, she has to pack her bags and head for Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York.

Be assured, New York is just the first stop on a tour that will take Girl Crush around the world.

GIRL CRUSH

Created and performed by Sharron Matthews

At Lunchbox Theatre until April 8

FOUR STARS

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REVIEW: GIRL CRUSH AT LUNCHBOX THEATRE

March 29th, 2017 ONSTAGE.COM

Vicki Trask

OnStage Calgary Critic

I have a feeling that “Girl Crush” is a show I was meant to see. If I were to give you my initial reactions as I walked out of the Lunchbox Theatre it would be a serious of expletives in wonderment at this woman. It’s a one hour cabaret performance by the incredibly charming Sharron Matthews that made me laugh, cry, and beg for more. The only bad thing about this production was that it ended too soon. With music performed by Calgary-based artist Vincent Bundick, Sharron tells stories of her childhood, her life up until now, singing classic songs with her own flair, and just entertaining her audience by being herself. Regardless of how scripted her performance may or may not have been, her transitions were entertaining and she gave such a spontaneous feel. It felt like we were the first people in the world to hear her stories – despite some of those tales being about other presentations of “Girl Crush”.

I loved how the Lunchbox Theatre was set up with cocktail tables and tea lights, creating an intimate nightclub setting for Sharron to play in. And she just commanded the stage. My favourite thing was that she was wholly, unapologetically herself; hilarious, emotional, and totally engaging.

That’s it: I loved it. Tons of 80s references but universally relatable; smart, confident, and a host of other adjectives that tell you I was astounded and inspired by this woman. What’s more, she encouraged all emerging artists to pursue their own creative endeavors. I cannot tell you how significant that is in the ever changing performing arts market.

The last thing I have to say is thank you, Sharron for creating this show. Beyond all the gushing, I enjoyed the stories you told, and the honest nature of your presentation. Simply put: I have a girl crush on Sharron Matthews.

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Review: for Sharron in “Sharron Matthews NAKED at 54 Below in NYC

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Review: for Sharron in “Closer Than Ever”

“ Sharron Matthews is a powerhouse singer and hilarious on “Miss Bird” and her duet with the excellent bass player Paul Clifford in “Back on Bass.” – North Country Public Radio

“Of the many different numbers, my favourite happened midway through the first of the two acts. Miss Byrd, about a realtor whose life outside of the office is one she keeps to herself, highlights my favourite performer of the quartet, Sharron Matthews (judging by the applause at the end of the show, I wasn’t alone in that sentiment).” – Kingston Whig

Closer than Ever Quote______________________________________________________________

Review: Sharron and George’s Super Fun Christmas Sing-A-Long (Buddies In Bad Times Theatre)

By Gian Verano

Super Fun Christmas Sing-A-Long is a Toronto Holiday Tradition with Legs — and Booze

What’s Christmas without a few good carols?

Taking the stage for a third year in a row, married couple Sharron Matthews and George Masswohl belt out all the holiday classics in their perennially popular spectacular, Sharron and George’s Super Fun Christmas Sing-A-Long.

It’s a fun night of surprise guests, hilarious banter, and of course, Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, O Holy Night, and my personal favourite, All I Want for Christmas Is You – complete with Sharron’s spot on Mariah Carey impression.

And if you’re like me and a little bit shy about singing in public, it’s a good thing that Buddies also has a fully licensed bar where you can order up a little bit of liquid courage. It’s a smaller venue, so you’ll be able to clearly hear how good, bad or tone- deaf the people around you are.

But none of that mattered, since at the end of the day, it was all about getting to relax with a group of people who are filled with as much holiday cheer as you are.

Now, I’ve been to many sing-a-longs in my day, and in my experience, it’s the hosts that make or break the production.

Funny, personable and razor sharp, Sharron and George took command of the stage that evening and delivered a banter that was at the same time natural and clever. This wasn’t Shakespeare, Shaw or Ibsen – subject matter that took itself very seriously – it was just a group of friends on stage having a great time, and putting in their sincerest efforts to ensure the same audience of their audience members.

Speaking of guests, the evening featured a cavalcade of performers who each brought something magical to the stage.

Since the web page for this event had the word ‘secret’ in all-caps for ‘special SECRET guests, I won’t ruin the surprise by dropping any names, but let me just say that the guests appearances featured a hauntingly beautiful traditional Swedish carol, down south storytelling, a laugh-out-loud drag show, as well as a human impression Jingle Cats. That’s right – the popular 90’s phenomenon of cats meowing out Christmas classics.

This was a night not to be missed. If you’re looking for a fun way to get into the holiday spirit next year, be sure to make Sharron and George’s Super Fun Christmas Sing-A-Long part of your annual Christmas traditions.

I honestly could not have chosen a better production as my last review of 2014.

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REVIEW: Sharron Matthews : FULL DARK (at the 35th Annual Rhubarb Festival)

by Lynn Slotkin on February 20, 2015
in The Passionate Playgoer
At Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

And then there’s Sharron Matthews’ show Full Dark. Sharron Matthews is a celebrated cabaret singer in Toronto and the world. This show goes into the darker side of her life; loosing her beloved father to a terrible accident; discovering the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, finding danger on the streets when she was a young girl, having a serious problem with anxiety. It’s all there in her songs and music.

Before the show starts she comes out in her dressing gown and introduces herself to every person in that audience. She walks up the aisles of the theatre, introduces herself to every single person there; shakes their hand, gives a funny line. She’s funny, cheeky, irreverent and totally professional. When that show starts with her three piece band playing, she goes from songs about loss of love, insecurity, darkness of the soul and coming out the other side. She has such a keen ear to her music and what works and how songs should be fitted together. If you have never seen Sharron Matthews in person, go. She is the real deal. The Rhubarb Festival continues at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre until Feb. 22.

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RAVE Reviews for “Sharron Matthews Superstar: GOLD 2012

“She proved once again that she may be the most exciting thing to have happened
in cabaret since Bette Midler at the Continental Baths.”
— NiteLifeExchange/NYC

“Sharron Matthews is the ‘Statue of Liberty’ of cabaret and comedy! The roguish and rompish singer/
comedienne has no equal in her native Canada or invading America as she did at Flute Bar this week. Think of Rosie O’Donnell, Phyllis Diller – and going back to Broadway superstar history, Beatrice Lillie – with fabulous voice to boot and you have Sharron Matthews!”
— Ward Morehouse III, Black Tie Magazine/NYC

THE SCOTSMAN
“A voice as big, beautiful, and varied as her native Canada.”
“I thought she’d burst a blood vessel – or that I would, from laughing.”
—  The Scotsman 4 Stars **** named “HOT SHOW”

THE SCOTSMAN
GOLD named one of the TOP CABARETS of the 2012 Fringe.

Broadway Baby
“By the time the show is over, it seems like it has just begun. Matthews’ ability to banter and get familiar with her audience makes them feel like they only just got to know her. One thing is certain, Sharron is pure Gold.”
—  Broadway Baby 5 Stars *****

The New Current
“It would be hard to find the slightest of faults in this show delivered with class, originality, and passion, Sharron Matthews is a breath of fresh-air and produces a show that has the packed house roaring.”
—  The New Current 5 Stars *****
Also named one of the 50 Tops Shows of Edinburgh Fringe.

The Curtain Up Show
“Sharron Matthews is a refreshing, bold, extremely talented and naturally comedic performer. It is encouraging to see a cabaret show being performed with raw, natural, witty, dynamic talent. Sharron Matthews truly is the Superstar!”
—  The Curtain Up Show 6 STARS ******

Scotsgay
“Her voice is superior too and the choice of music certainly shows her range. Performing classic songs and adding a unique twist, or occasionally throwing out the original tune and rebuilding a song from scratch – there are many stand-out moments. Personal favourites included beautiful new arrangements of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ and ‘Love Stoned’. And I adored what she did with the hitherto innocent sound of ‘Hotel California’.”
—  Scotsgay 4 Stars ****

One4Review
“Once again, Sharron Matthews delights in an all-too-quick hour of top-class comedy cabaret. She welcomes every audience member as they come in, instantly putting people at ease and you just know you’re going to enjoy the next hour. Her rapport with the audience is a joy and she has us eating out of the palm of her hands.”
—  One4Review 5 Stars *****

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Reviews for Jesus Thinks I’m Funny Tour, Scotland and London 2011

“Best of the Fest”
— The Scotsman

“She owns the stage and everyone who dares look her way”
—  The Scotsman, **** 4 STARS

“A brilliant piece of comedy cabaret. Sharron Matthews is a redheaded Canadian goddess of cabaret, a real superstar.”
— The Skinny, ***** 5 STARS

“Jesus Thinks I’m Funny is like watching a ballsy, chaotic, hilariously foul-mouthed version of Glee.”
— Hairline, **** 4 STARS

“Not only is Sharron Matthews a superstar, she is a force of nature.”
— Three Weeks Edinburgh, **** 4 STARS

“Sharron Matthews is a force to be reckoned with.Weimar Republic meets Lady Gaga!”
— Cabaret Scenes, London, England.

And she got the Holy Grail of the Edinburgh Fringe…the Cover of the Scotsman Newspaper!!!

Scotsman Cover 2011


Reviews for Canada Sings 2011!

Here are some of the review bullets about Sharron’s work on Canada Sings from Debra Yeo’s Reality Check column in the Toronto Star.

“I hereby declare Sharron the Queen of the Mashup, because she always chooses such great songs and blends them so well together.”

“I have to bow down to Sharron and choreographer Christian Vincent. They’d be the first to tell you it was all the cops’ hard work and dedication that did the trick. And no doubt, it was, but Sharron and Christian worked some magic here, coming up with a really fun, unexpected song mashup”

“Somehow, though, when Sharron Matthews and Christian Vincent were finished with them, they had transformed into sexy divas in sequins and cool gents in suits and fedoras, and they were delightful.”


“If this gal isn’t at the very least in the running for Outstanding Female Vocalist, or Outstanding Female Debut (because she could indeed find herself eligible for both), one can only wonder precisely what both the nominating committee and the voting board were thinking. Rarely in the last forty years of the art form, has someone blown into town as a virtual unknown, been booked into one of the most prestigious rooms the city has to offer and then proceed to put forth an evening comparable only to the work of a very young Bette Midler at the Continental Baths. And whether or not a nomination is in the cards for her this season, she needs no help from anyone to emerge at all turns as simply dazzling.”

— Andrew MartinNite Life Exchange


For Sharron Matthews Superstar: The World Domination Tour 2010

“She is a pinch of Ethel Merman and Bette Midler. Her show is deliciously campy and her interpretation of a song is unique and wonderful. Sharron Matthews’s personality and talent really shines as she sails through some of the contemporary hits of the 80’s…Sharron is one of those rare performers that comes along once in a while and gets notices in a downtown club and builds a loyal following a la Bette Midler.”
—  Magda KatzBroadway After Dark

“Not only was this show a complete and utter triumph on all counts, but serves as testament to the fact that a chanteuse as riveting and brilliant as Matthews proved on this night should wholeheartedly be welcomed to New York and elsewhere with unabashedly open arms.”
—  Andrew MartinNite Life Exchange

“How f**king good are you!?!”
— Kate Copstick, The Scotsman

“Matthews sings with attitude and humour in a show that has more musical surprises and mood swings than a foul-mouthed episode of ‘Glee’. World Domination beckons.”
— Three Weeks Edinburgh

“Sharron is a born entertainer and this is obvious from the off, not only is she very funny but she has a cracking voice and you can’t help be mesmerized when she belts out hits from legends like Shirley Bassey to Radiohead. As a comedy show its very good but I refuse to review this just on comedy alone, this is cabaret and as that it’s excellent. Brace yourself world Sharron Matthews is taking over. ***** 5 STARS!”
— Comedy Reviewer

“This cabaret performer from Canada rocked theSpace at Surgeons Hall last night with her powerful performance and winning personality. Highly Recommended. ***** 5 STARS”
— Broadway Baby

“Without question a truly magnificent performer with a great deal of heart and a voice so controlled, sweet and powerful you will leave her show on a high. If your question is whether Sharron Matthews is a superstar, quite frankly yes! ***** 5 STARS”
— The New Current

“Sharron Matthews truly is a superstar and a performer as personable and instantly likeable is something rare both at The Fringe and beyond. ***** 5 STARS”
Public Review

“So here’s the thing. Sharron Matthews transforms cabaret into musical/dramatic crack. You can’t get enough. Unbe-f**king-lievable.”
Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine and CTV


What are they saying about Sharron’s Party?….

“Capable of selling any song like it is prime downtown real estate”
John CoulourneToronto Sun

“Live-wire who electrifies the cabaret scene ”
Richard OuzonianToronto Star

“The Hottest Ticket in Town”
Shinan GovaniNational Post

“Effervescent”
—  Jon KaplanNow Magazine

“No demure wallflower, Matthews is out there and in your face. She can rivet you with her great pipes and then touch you with the tenderness of her interpretations. And then make you laugh until you pee.”
—  Jon KaplanNow Magazine [read the rest here]

“Showbiz-cult happening”
Richard OuzounainThe Toronto Star

“Call her a pseudiva — a starlet who’s got all the talent but none of the ‘tude…. Matthews has a world class singing voice….. A killer party!”
Colin HunterWaterloo Record

Sharron Matthews is like a champagne cocktail….one with extra fizz.”
Gary SmithHamilton Spectator

“It was a divinely fabulous evening of song and hilarious storytelling… Once is never enough when it comes to Sharron Matthews’ Cabaret.”
Amanda CampbellTwisi Theatre Blog

“They loved her… she is a joy to have in any theatre… I loved her, as a person and an artist.. .she was incredible.”
Melvin FordOperations Manager, Kings Playhouse


Sharron’s reviews from Songs for a New World….

“Sharron Matthews is perfection.”
—  Richard OuzounainThe Toronto Star

“The sublime Sharron Matthews.”
—  Now magazine

“Takes the stage like a leopard to the jungle”
—  John CoulbourneToronto Sun

“Matthews accusatory romp through neglected Mrs. Claus’ psyche in “Nick” is well worth the admission price alone.”
—  SerafinExtra Magazine (Songs for a New World)

“Genuine showstoppers….count most of the songs performed by Matthews”
—  John CoulbournToronto Sun

“Matthews is a stunning performer “
—  Gary SmithHamilton Spectator, (What You Don’t Know)


Sharron’s reviews from The Wizard of Oz…..

“Sharron Matthews Wicked Witch of the West… grandly theatrical and unhinged (in a good way)!”
—  Kamal Al-SolayleeThe Globe and Mail

“Sharron Matthews is the coolest of witches”
—  Richard OuzounianThe Toronto Star

“Fine performances throughout, notably Sharron Matthewsʼ campy and vocally exquisite Wicked Witch.”
—  David BatemanXTRA

“Sharron Matthews is a treat as the Wicked Witch.”
—  Christopher HoleEye Weekly

“Sharron Matthews is also a standout, a Wicked Witch who’s more like one of those strict teachers we all tried to avoid.”
—  Jon KaplanNow Magazine


For Sharron in Sky Gilbert’s Premiere of Happy…

“The Saucy Sharron Matthews!”
—  J. Kelly NestruckThe Globe and Mail

“The inimitable Sharron Matthews”
—  Christopher HoileEye Magazine

“Matthews makes use of her prodigious comic inventions”
—  Richard OuzuonianThe Star