Q&A: Sheridan Harbridge on Songs for the Fallen

The Auckland Live International Cabaret Season has become an important festival on the Auckland events calendar. The 2016 instalment is no different with many incredible performers set to take to the stage.

One such performer is Sheridan Harbridge who will perform Songs for the Fallen, a cabaret show that centres around the fascinating life of Marie Duplessis. Click here to purchase tickets.

Songs for the Fallen is set in Paris in 1847 and is a decadent mix of hilarity and exceptional music.

Sheridan is an accomplished performer and is the star of this show. But before she takes her turn as Marie Duplessis for the Auckland Live International Cabaret Season, we had a chat to Sheridan to hear about her upcoming show, the thrill of the stage and why she is so inspired by one of history’s best known party girls.

Ticketmaster: Hi Sheridan, thanks for joining us. What should the audience expect when they come to a performance of Songs for the Fallen?

Sheridan: Dancing, champagne and glitter in all the places it shouldn’t be. It’s a party, a glorious party.

Ticketmaster: The show charts the life of Marie Duplessis. What was is about this historic person that led you to write create Songs for the Fallen?

Sheridan: Marie defied all the odds, to not only survive extreme poverty, but to use extraordinary tenacity and wit to become the most infamous woman in Paris by the time she was 17. Many times she has been likened to Princess Diana, the people’s princess, who set the trends, who was never not talked about. I saw in her a story of rapacious survival and giving the finger to the establishment. A party girl of Lindsay Lohan-esque madness – we know we shouldn’t watch, but we can’t turn away from the decadence, we know we wouldn’t survive it, but we envy how close she flies to the sun.

Ticketmaster: Can you explain the significance of the Auckland Live International Cabaret Season and what it means for Cabaret performers?

Sheridan Harbridge: It’s a fab festival about story-songs, telling stories through songs which is quite liberated from the trappings of the music theatre genre. It is a great way for intimate, visceral theatre to be in the centre of the city.

Ticketmaster: What is it about Cabaret that you love so much?

Sheridan: The intimacy, and the audience being a personality in the room that dictates the show as much as the writing and the actors. There’s more rock’n’roll to cabaret, more fast and loose, that whatever goes goes and we make the rules, and the audience expects us to break them.

Ticketmaster: You are an accomplished performer in many different genres. Can you explain the feeling you get when you are performing live of stage? Is it exhilarating or nerve-racking or something in between?

Sheridan: It’s terrifying, horrific and wonderful. I’m addicted to the game. No matter how experienced you are, you have your good nights and your bad nights, where even delivering something 1cm off where you did the night before can impact a whole section. It’s tormenting, it’s scientific. And I will spend the next 24 hours aching to get back on stage and try it again. Some nights have a magic synchronicity, where audience and performers are turned on to this fine tuned madness. It’s athletic and spiritual.

Ticketmaster: If you weren’t a performer, what do you think you would be doing?

Sheridan:  I’d probably be an irritating blogger taking selfies in forests and bikinis and #livingthedream. I’m good at facades…

Ticketmaster: What are some of the dream roles you would like to tackle?

Sheridan: Everyone wants to see if they have a Blanche Dubois in them. I sometimes do a Zombie Judy Show, where I play dead Judy, very dead and very confused about where she is. It’s very satisfying to give her a modern twist, and it not just be a tribute, but a play on her cynicism. She was a very funny, dry woman. 

Ticketmaster: What are some of the other shows you are excited to see as part of the Auckland Live International Cabaret Season?

Sheridan: I’m aching to see Frisky & Mannish after seeing them 5 years ago at Edinburgh Fringe. Sheba William’s Nina Simone show seems like a must-see, and intrigued by the Blackbird Ensembles classical vibe.

Ticketmaster: Why should people see your show?

Sheridan: It’s won a gazillion awards and has been playing around the world for 5 years, and there’s a reason for that – I wrote it for the ache in us all, the ache when we lay in bed at night thinking ‘what is this all for?’. Songs for the Fallen takes that question and turns it every which way on its head, throws it in the air like confetti and snorts it through its nose like a really good drug. Marie Duplessis knows she is going to die, and she is determined to have the best time doing it. She careens, sings, gyrates and loves through this tough tough life, and dies a legend for it.

Ticketmaster: Thank you so much for joining us. All the best with the upcoming performances of Songs for the Fallen.

Sheridan Harbridge brings her show Songs for the Fallen to the Auckland Live International Cabaret Season 28 September – 2 October at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall. Click here to purchase tickets now.