Jeremy Brennan, Erikah Heynatz and Michael Griffiths. Photo Maria Lawrie
Jeremy Brennan, Erikah Heynatz and Michael Griffiths. Photo Maria Lawrie

Madonna was the latest diva to have her musical legacy given a Slide COVERGIRL makeover. A myriad of mash-ups, spoken word humour and perky performance art pieces made up the quality cabaret fare.

The sumptuously intimate ambience of Slide, bursting with Madonna fans plus celebrities housed this exciting tribute well. The dinner and show ticket-holders as well as crowds in the upper level gallery formed a formidable throng eager for the new vogue stories.

Madonna’s career started in a decade without tweets, Facebook posts, fast internet or smartphones. CDs were emerging as the shiny new audio device. The developing star’s songs were consistently effective and the everyday girl-to-superstar story continually shocked, motivated and energised many.

This COVERGIRL: MADONNA cast were a talented bunch and obvious fans of the versions they evocatively revisited with us. Led ably by host Michael Griffiths, the performers gave us many shades of Madonna for the modern age.

Excerpts from Griffiths’ own successful show In Vogue: Songs by Madonna were special moments. These were excellent covers from the artist who has also performed the in-character-cabaret Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox for Slide audiences in the past.

Especially true to his style was a spoken and sung pop song writing workshop. Griffiths opened the second half of the evening with a dazzling deconstruction of Express Yourself.

Very rewarding was an incredible mash up by Ben Hur and Renee sung over amped ukulele. At times only fleeting references with smooth as silk segues covered Open Your Heart, Lucky Star, Dear Jesse and Papa Don’t Preach.

Also making an appearance with his signature ukulele was experienced Slide and cabaret character Matthew Mitcham. He exuded wit and charming cheekiness in a fun rendition of Hanky Panky.

Erikah Heynatz of Home and Away fame delivered a fine medley of ‘father issues’ songs on the Slide stage, accompanied on piano by Jeremy Brennan. She was in fine voice as Papa Don’t Preach, Hung Up and Oh Father were nicely developed.

This tribute would not have been complete without a version of Vogue. Valere (Brendan Hay) and the Risqué Revue Lovecats performed a camp aristocrat-meets-timeless burlesque romp.

Star of ABC TV’s Black Comedy,  Steven Oliver, presented a clever spoken mash-up of Madonna song quotes. More lyrics read in an autocue news style by former ABC newsreader Whitney Fitzsimmons was a hilarious prelude to her strident performance of Burning Up with Jeremy Brennan.

The night, like Madonna herself, contained no saggy bits and the audience responded well. One of the wait staff showed his vocal and comic talents, especially in a stellar Andrew Lloyd Webber number from Madonna’s South American excursion into the movie musical genre.

The show’s conclusion contained two fantastic moments. The first was a return to our stormy earth by Judy Garland to wax lyrical on life and then perform a hectic combination of lyrics from dropped song sheets.

Andy Dexterity performed Like A Prayer using sign language ‘hand-syncing’ and choreography. This was an incredible Madonna morph moment in a sea of exciting cover versions. His effective communication was an innovative and touching tribute with which to finish.

Slide offers us the chance to take part in another COVERGIRL show in 2016. Until then, Risque Revue continues at the venue on Thursdays in September and the Vaudevillia show opens in October.