BWW Review: Sharron Matthews Was ON THE LOOSE at the Stratford Summer Music Festival. And We Loved it.
On Friday evening, as part of the Stratford Summer Music Festival’s cabaret series at Revival House, the incomparable SharRon Matthews hit the stage for delightful and moving show that had the audience captivated from start to finish.
Matthews-who has been touring her show, GIRL CRUSH throughout the summer, and will continue to do so in the fall, appeared more than happy to stop by a hometown venue to offer a unique ‘one time only’ cabaret performance entitled SHARRON ON THE LOOSE. This show offered musical selections ranging from Lady Gaga to The Beatles to Annie Lennox to U2. She also included songs from popular musicals SHOW BOAT and recent Tony winner DEAR EVAN HANSEN. Accompaniment was provided by Steve Thomas, who was also responsible for some of the unique orchestrations of well-known songs.
The marriage of Matthews’ powerful singing voice and the unique space (Revival House is a renovated church that is now a restaurant/event venue) allowed for a truly magical evening. The fine acoustics of the space were particularly noticeable when Matthews led the audience in a sing-along of “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” from SHOW BOAT. At the start of the show, she promised the audience that they would leave that evening, feeling like she and they were in a relationship. I’d say she delivered.
This show was framed with the theme of “love”. Matthews used song choices and personal stories to describe different kinds of love-from a young crush, to love of fame or money, to a parent’s love of a child, to a ‘crazy’ obsessive love, and finally, to a healthy dose of self-love. Although the song choices were incredibly diverse, one thing that each song had in common was interesting lyrics. Matthews has a way of singing a song that makes the audience feel as if they are hearing the lyrics for the first time. This rang particularly true for numbers like “Brandy” (Elliott Lurie), “Stop! In The Name of Love” (Holland-Dozier-Holland) and “Every Breath You Take” (The Police).
Matthews’ ability to be playfully teasing an audience member one minute, and then be belting a moving musical number through tears the next, is further evidence of her pure, unadulterated talent. She commands a room and bares her soul, all while keeping you laughing. We’re not worthy!
This fabulous cabaret is just another example of all the right notes that the Stratford Summer Music Festival is hitting this season. Founder, and Artistic Director, John Miller deserves a round of applause.
For more information about Sharron Matthews and to find out when she performs next, check out her website: www.sharronmatthews.com
For a list of upcoming events and performances for the Stratford Summer Music Festival, be sure to check this site: www.stratfordsummermusic.ca
For more information on Revival House: http://revival.house/
One-person show takes to the Toronto stage with hopeful and funny messages
Just in case Shakespeare isn’t your jam (we won’t judge), Toronto’s High Park Amphitheatre provided a quick break from the Bard this week for local funny lady Sharron Matthews and her cabaret show Girl Crush. Co-produced by The Musical Stage Company and Canadian Stage, Sharron spends a delightful hour with us dishing out personal stories interwoven with melodic covers of old favourite tunes about heartbreak and insecurity.
Although she is most well-known as Joan the Secretary, the unsung heroine of classic film Mean Girls, Ms. Matthews is an enchanting talent in her own right. I wasn’t entirely sure that a cabaret, an inherently intimate form of performance, would work in the expanse of an outdoor amphitheatre, but the performer’s overflowing personality and cheeky charm made it work.
Matthews’ timing and delivery on jokes are precise, and her singing voice is crystalline and awesome in the classical sense of the word. The show as a concept could work even if she happened to be a less talented singer, but Matthews does nothing halfway. By the time she got to her encore, I was regretting not bringing a lighter to wave back and forth in the air.
The show bleeds with that sort of infectious, candid hilarity. Her arrangements of hit songs are also particularly well-thought-out. A few changes to the lyrics of Jesse’s Girl and the song goes from pining over “a woman like that” to addressing the admiration and envy in interpersonal, female relationships. And frankly, you haven’t lived until you have heard an acoustic jazz cover of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.
A lot of the show’s songs and references do date it somewhat. As a child of the 1990s myself, it occasionally took a bit of extra effort for me to keep up with her jokes and anecdotes. Nonetheless, Matthews doesn’t talk down to her audience, and it was actually quite intriguing to hear personal stories that gave greater context to the songs I’ve grown up hearing, or hearing about. When Matthews began dishing on tales about real-life mean girls, though, generational gaps became a non-issue. The theme of her show could be summed up in a single line she utters towards the ending: “This is how I am, and it’s @#$%ing awesome”.
This message and her songs are her ultimate answer to the uncertainty that plague the teenage and young adult years of so many of us. As an anxious 20-something woman still in the thick of such insecurities myself, there’s something beautiful about hearing an affirmation like that from a 40-something woman playing to a packed amphitheatre. It’s almost as if a message of hope is being projected back in time, cutting through the fear and doubt inside of us. For that above all else, I must thank Ms. Matthews for conceiving and staging this show.
Girl Crush is (or was!) a one-night-only performance at the High Park Amphitheater. However, Ms. Matthews does tour this show, so keep an eye on her website for the next time she performs it.
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.
Created and performed by Sharron Matthews
At Lunchbox Theatre until April 8
REVIEW: GIRL CRUSH AT LUNCHBOX THEATRE
March 29th, 2017 ONSTAGE.COM
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.
Review: for Sharron in “Sharron Matthews NAKED at 54 Below in NYC
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
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.
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.
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.”
“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
“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”
GOLD named one of the TOP CABARETS of the 2012 Fringe.
“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 ******
“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 ****
“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 *****