Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Michelle Nightingale: Born To Run

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

Michelle Nightingale’s Born To Run played to a sold-out audience in the Artspace Theatre, despite being programmed on the same night at the same time as a one-off performance by Martha Wainwright.

Born To Run is a collaborative effort between Nightingale, Musical Director Matthew Carey and Librettist Esther Ottoway.

Nightingale appears on stage looking like a dressed down Julie Andrews stepping straight out of The Sound Of Music set and addresses the audience saying, “My name’s Michelle, this is not my story but it’s a story we should share.” What transpires is an Australian twist to the troubled, working class issues of Bruce Springsteen’s American chronicles. The musical interpretations are kinder and gentler but the stories (forced adoption) interwoven with Springsteen’s own narrative style complement the harsh, longing world of ‘The Boss’.

Nightingale acts out some disturbing stories using the actual words of Australian women during and in between numbers. Overall it worked but sometimes it did get in the way of the emotional flow.

Sharing the stage with Nightingale was a pianist, two string instrumentalists and a flute/sax player. Their sensitive playing provided an elegant underscore to Nightingale’s strong voice with ‘Darkness At The Edge Of Town’, ‘Hungry Heart’, ‘Rosalita’ and a very tender ‘Human Touch’ dominating the set while ‘Thunder Road’ received the biggest applause of the night.

Born To Run aroused genuine feelings in its audience. The stories of Australian women and their children combined with Springsteen’s songs certainly struck a chord but it wasn’t what many in the audience came looking for. However, they certainly left with their thinking caps on.

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