Australia’s Nightingale takes flight

Australian songstress, actor and cabaret regular Michelle Nightingale will travel to London this week to rehearse for the Australian tour of Brief Encounter, produced by British-based theatre company, Kneehigh. 

Michelle Nightingale. Image supplied.
Michelle Nightingale. Image supplied.

Based on the 1945 film, Brief Encounter follows the story of Laura (Nightingale) and Alec (Jim Sturgeon), who fall in love and share a brief, passionate relationship before returning to their respective marriages.

For Nightingale, this opportunity follows a sold-out run of her Bruce Springteen cover show, Born to Run, at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

“I’m thrilled with all the opportunities I’ve had this year,” Nightingale said.

Nightingale has been working in the Australian arts industry for over twenty years, with experience on stage, on television and in film. Her previous work includes roles on McLeod’s Daughters and Danger 5 and lead roles in theatre projects with the South Australian State Opera.

Nightingale is one of only two Australians cast in the tour, and told AussieTheatre that she is excited to tackle this new challenge.

“I think it’s an absolute thrill to be part of that cast, and also with the musicians that are involved and the whole production company and the reputation that they all have,” she said.

The cast includes actors from the United Kingdom such as Jim Sturgeon, as well as performers from United States and South Australia’s Kate Cheel.

Nightingale describes the prospect of joining an already-formed, high-profile international cast as “a little daunting”, but places her trust in the production company.

“I think Kneehigh have structured it in such a way that we’re going to feel confident and well-supported and all of that. But it’s still very daunting, especially some of the names!” she said.

Kneehigh, who are working in conjunction with Arts Projects Australia to present the Australian tour, have enthusiastically welcomed Nightingale and Cheel to the cast. Joint Artistic Director of Kneehigh and Adapter and Director of Brief Encounter Emma Rice is thrilled to be welcoming the Australian actors to the company.

“Our ensemble is never static and we are always bringing new faces in and nurturing their artistic and professional development alongside long-standing members of the team”, said Rice.

“We are really excited to be working with Kate Cheel and Michelle Nightingale.”

Nightingale will spend two weeks in London with the show’s resident cast rehearsing the project before travelling back to Australia, where Brief Encounter will tour nationally, beginning in Adelaide on 10 September.

After Brief Encounter’s tour ends in December, Nightingale hopes to tour again as soon as possible, this time with her cabaret show, Born to Run.

“Getting Born to Run on the road would be fantastic, considering the time and effort that we’ve put into the show and the success it’s been so far,” she said.

For now, though, she is more than content to focus on her current project.

“I haven’t really thought that far – I never really thought that I would be getting this role! So I’m just really focusing on that at the moment,” she said.

“I think the story of unrequited love is always a beautiful story to tell. Sharing and experiencing that angst and frustration and that heartbreaking feeling that you could have missed out on the best thing that ever happened to you. I think a lot of people find that attractive and appealing and I think it happens to a lot of people too.”

 For more information on the Australian tour of Brief Encounter, check Kneehigh’s website.

Paige Mulholland

Paige Mulholland is an Adelaide based writer, reviewer and perpetual volunteer for all things artsy in Adelaide. She has a double degree in International Relations and Journalism, and and writes for Adelaide Theatre Guide and ArtsHub as well as In her spare time, she takes classes in dance, voice and theatre, and sometimes has deep philosophical discussions with her cats.

Paige Mulholland

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