Brief Encounter With … Sharron Matthews
How did you come to be a cabaret artist?
Right out of college at the age of 21, I was cast in the Canadian company of Les Misérables. From then on I spent almost 10 years in long-running shows such as Showboat and Beauty and the Beast. Though I love and am inspired by musical theatre, it never felt like the right fit for me. I always wanted to create more than just a character; I wanted to be myself onstage. After being asked by a friend to do a short 15-minute set at a cabaret I was hooked. I sang the songs I loved, I told stories about my life that moved me, made me feel horrible, made me feel amazing and made me laugh. People responded to my shows, and I, in turn, felt a great connection to the audience with no fourth wall up. I could speak and sing to people and there were no rules apart from the ones I made. It is a very powerful feeling. Afterwards I did cabaret on and off, but decided to dedicate my time solely to it in late 2004. Since then it has been an amazing journey.
Not many artists enjoy labels, but in the interest of introducing yourself to the Fringe audience, how would you categorize your work?
That is a challenging question. But at the risk of sounding very self-serving, here is the best way I can describe it to you (luckily, because I am an artist and a producer, I have begun to embrace ‘self-serving’!). And I prefer to do this in the third person as it doesn’t seem so egotistical. Much.
Is Sharron a comedian? YES!
A musical theatre performer? YES!
An amazing cabaret artist? YES!
A rock and roll star? YES!
A fashionista? YES!
YES TO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS!!
For those who like an answer that’s a bit more cerebral, I would call myself a storyteller who sings. For those who are entertainment seekers, I am a comedian who sings rock and roll, rhythm and blues and pop, who tells a bleeping good tale and wears awesome outfits... who might make you pee your pants... just a bit.
Why did you title your show Sharron Matthews Superstar: World Domination Tour 2010?
I wanted this year to be a big year for me. After doing cabaret in Toronto, Canada for such a long time, I knew that I would have to make a bold statement to move forward with my work and career. The title began as a tongue-in-cheek assertion with a dollop of truth. The more the months went by the more truthful it became. It was a self-fulfilling challenge. I wanted audiences, reviewers, media and producers to take notice. I thought people would either say “Oh, that looks interesting, let’s go see her show!” or “Who does she think she is? I am gonna see her show”. Either way I win and the people are in the seats - then I have the chance to really win them over.
Why bring your show to the Edinburgh Fringe and what are you hoping will come out of your time there?
My husband came to the Edinburgh Fringe three years ago with a show from Canada and he called me as soon as he arrived. He said: “Honey, you have got to bring your show here!” He brought home the address of a producer on a slip of paper that I kept in my wallet for two years. He asked over and over again if I had emailed the producer. For an independent producer and performer, the task of getting my show across the ocean seemed very daunting. But when it became more apparent to me that I needed to get out into the world and perform, I set my sights on the biggest forum I could find. The producer on the slip of paper had since gone the way of the Dodo but oddly enough, I was undaunted – and managed to convince another producer to join me. Not just any old producer either, but the President of the Toronto Fringe Festival, Derrick Chua. I hope that while I am at the Fringe I will meet, learn from and talk with as many other artists from all over the world as I can. It is my great desire to take my show to London and Australia and I believe that, if I work hard, I will make the connections needed to do so. It is also my great hope to get the word out about Canadian cabaret and solo artists; there is a wealth of great work being done in Canada! I also simply want to get caught up in all that is this crazy festival and really get the whole experience!