A Bit of Caberet Merlot: Interview with Ruth Wilkin

By Elyse Simich

Ruth Wilkin will be performing her cabaret show Tribute: A Story of Cher, Madonna and Whitney Houston’s Rise to Fame in Perth later this month. Ruth said this show came about after being at lots of Fringe Festivals and Cabaret Festivals, and noticing that there is always a tribute to someone in the program. She said this is because audiences love watching them, and the artists love performing them. “Artists love them because they get to get up and perform for fifty-minutes and sing all of their favourite songs, and even if it’s just for fifty-minutes, just borrow a bit of their fame to put a show together.”

She said that’s what her show is all about. “It’s kind of poking fun at tribute shows, it’s poking fun at the actual artists that we do the shows about.”

While it’s a tribute to tribute shows, she will be taking bits from the lives of certain celebrities. “I’ve got a bit of Madonna in there, there’s a bit of Cher. There’s a bit of Taylor Swift and that way that she always writes an angry break-up song. There’s a bit of Britney Spears in there as well, and Whitney Houston.” She said she would be modelling her songs of their really well known hits. “There’s a song that’s written along the lines of [Madonna’s] Vogue and a song that’s written along the lines of [Whitney Houston’s] I Want to Dance with Somebody. I want to kind of parody their style, I guess, and pay homage to some of the best songs of certainly when I was growing up.”

She considers self-producing and performing in lots of Cabaret seasons as her biggest achievement as a performer. “It takes a lot of work to do a show, and as an independent Cabaret performer, you’re doing a lot of it yourself. So, I guess my biggest achievements would be that I’ve performed at Melbourne Fringe; I’ve performed at Perth Fringe, I’ve performed at the Ballarat Cabaret Festival, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and Adelaide Fringe Festival.”

Ruth did a lot of performing during high school in regional Victoria, before moving to Perth to study a Certificate II in Musical Theatre at WAAPA. After that she performed in a lot of musicals with Yellow Glass Theatre, an independent theatre company in Perth. She also did a double degree in Education and Creative Arts at ECU. This is how she realised she loved performing. “I guess I was interested in musical theatre first, and then I started to see more Cabaret and then I became really interested in writing for that, and being able to write my own things as well.”

All of her shows have original music in them, which she writes herself. “I play the piano, but when I perform, I prefer to have someone play for me. Actually, this is the first show I’m going to be playing in, for a little part of it. But usually I prefer to be able to get up and get out from behind the piano a bit.”

833887_largeShe said she first started playing piano in primary school, but gave it up for a number of years. She then started playing again in high school, but once again, gave it up. “When I was studying at ECU, we had to write, for one of our assignments, a musical all about netball. So, I said I could play a little and jumped back on, and we wrote these songs. Then I thought, ‘I really enjoy doing this,’ so I’ve sort of been playing it since.”

After this show, she would like to take a year just to rest a little bit. “I’d like to go through the songs I’ve had for other shows and perhaps record them properly and give myself a bit more of a digital profile. Archive stuff that I’ve done and take stock of what I’ve done.” She also has an idea for a new show in the works.

Her show, Tribute: A Story of [Insert Celebrity]’s Rise to Fame has been performed before in Melbourne and in Adelaide. Ruth said, “It’s a really fun night and if people like having a bit of a laugh, this is the show for them.” It will be playing in Perth Downstairs at His Majesty’s Theatre on 22-24 September.
Images by Geraldine Quinn and Sarah Wilkin
Video from www.youtube.com

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