Sharron Matthews talks Something 'Completely Different' at Global Cabaret Fest

SharRon Matthews is one of the foremost stars of Canada's cabaret scene, having recently traveled the world on her GOLD tour she returned to Toronto to become the first artist in residence at Buddies in Bad Times theatre where she continues to develop and hone her cabaret skills.

This year she joins the stellar line-up at the Global Cabaret Festival, which includes such diverse programming as a David Bowie and Bob Dylan songbook, a look at historical Paris with the music of Debussy and Ravel, Dennis Lee's Lost Songs of Toronto and more.

For her contribution, SharRon Matthews has promised to do something 'completely different', which of course had us very intrigued. BWW sat down to talk with Sharron about what exactly 'completely different' entrails, her love of all things cabaret and why she feels The Global Cabaret Festival is such an important event for Toronto:

You're doing something completely different this year for the Global Cabaret and going acoustic, with material that we may not expect. What made you decide to switch things up?

I have been touring the same style of shows for about five years now...heavily comedy based...reinterpreting musical pieces that people all know and love and finding another side to them. I have truly loved every moment of it, but since I got back from my big GOLD tour in 2012 (which took me all over the world to Edinburgh, London, New York and Africa), I've had some naggin thoughts that there is still so much for me to explore and discover in this genre. So many songs and stories, and so many different ways to sing and tell them. I want to try as many as I can! A gal has got to grow and explore or risk becoming stale and stagnant.

You're usual style is fairly bold and brassy (which I think is a great thing) and this sounds like it's going to be more subdued. Will you still find a way to get across your trademark humour and snark?

It is definitely a different musical program for me, and I'm very excited about that. It's still me, and I love findin gthe humour in all situations. Now, I'm trying to come up with alternate words for 'subdued'.... Is the show darker? Yes! A bit grittier? Yes! Sometimes quiet? That too! But it will still feature music that I love and am moved by and will still be framed by stories about my life, which can be a freak show at times. So is it humorous? You bet!

You mention that you will be covering some artists that are 'different' for you - can you give us any hints as to who you might tackle?

I love that Bruno Mars! I love him on award shows, performance shows, and I love his tunes. So definitely Bruno Mars - I've never done him before. Gavin DeGraw has written one of the catchiest tunes I've ever heard and cannot get out of my head, so I'm going to do my best to sing the high holy crap out of it. I am singing a folk tune (I NEVER get to do those!) and a tune sung by a singer/writer who came out at the same time as Adele and (I think) got lost in her thunder. Also two tunes that have been in search of a story for about a year now. So many songs!!!

Will you still do your mash-ups?

There is one mash up - one of my coolest mash ups that I have ever had arranged for me and it was done by my pal Wayne Gwillim, who is the associate musical direct on Les Miserables right now! I love it! But this is one of the first times that I have done almost a whole show of songs that I will sing all the way through... See? Something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

What are you most looking forward to with regards to being part of this festival? And how important do you feel these types of festivals are in exposing people to the world of cabaret?

The Global Cabaret is undoubtably one of my favourite events of the year, and it is truly one of a kind. I look forward to working with and seeing the work of so many of my favourite artists. Jamie Drake, Jason Chesworth, Mike Ross, Miranda Mullholland, Patricia O'Callaghan - so many wonderful people! Just being in the building is so inspiring. I cannot express how important the festival is, there are only three other cabaret festivals that have been on the map. One is the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Australia, but this one is distinctly Canadian. The audience might picture cabaret as something untoward that happens in the back room of a boozecan - but you will see how creative, how accessible, how wide and mainstream cabaret can be. This experience will open you up to attending other cabarets too!

What is it about cabaret that resonates so strongly with you?

Oh my gosh! Where to start? Cabaret can be almost whatever you want it to be. In cabaret, you can be truly intimate with an audience, as much as either of you can take or feel comfortable with. And sometimes you have to push that comfort zone. It is a theatrical style where artists of all ages can find their artistic voice and explore it. Put their shows up wherever they can, you don't need a theatre to be a cabaret artist, you just need a space, an audience and a show. It's a place for storytelling, and I LOVE a good story.

Finally, what's next for SharRon Matthews on her path to world domination?

In November I will be premiering my new cabaret, FULL DARK, at Sheridan College where I went to school 100 years ago (laughs). I will work with the students while I rehearse my new piece. I've been workshopping for the show for the past six months as part of my artist's residency at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre an am looking forward to seeing it realized with a lighting design and a full band. It's loosely based on the stories of the Grimm Brothers. I saw a wonderful painting of Little Red Riding Hood last year and was catapulted back to childhood. I was inspired. I am very excited about both new shows - the ones this weekend at the Global Cabaret and Full Dark - this all makes for a very exciting and jam packed fall!

When and Where?

The Global Cabaret Festival

The Festival Runs this Thurs Oct 24th - Sun Oct 27th, 2013 at The Young Centre

It features over 150 artists creating over 15 cabarets in a range of styles.

Advance tickets are $22, day of are $25 and there are student tickets and passes available.

For more information please call 416-866-8666 or visit

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