Ashleigh Kreveld had always been fond of Amy Winehouse, so when the international singer sensation unexpectedly passed away at the age of 27, Ashleigh had a vision to keep Amy’s spirit alive through the magic of cabaret.
After selling out at the Perth Fringe last year, Ashleigh has taken on a challenge this year by hosting her longest season yet with spreading fourteen shows across Australia including Alice Springs, Fremantle, Perth and Adelaide. ‘Excited and nervous’ are the two emotions that she is feeling about her show titled Frankly Winehouse, and understandably so. I had the fine opportunity to have a chat with Ashleigh earlier this week to nut out the details of her nearly sold-out show.
Where’s home for you?
I’m originally from Melbourne, but I have visited most states in Australia. I have been to Adelaide briefly.
How’d you get involved with cabaret?
I’ve always had an interest in music theatre from a young age, so when I got involved in it, I found my passion and being a huge fan of Amy Winehouse. I decided to dedicate a major part of my theatrical talent towards a show that showed her fun side with a hint of the lesser-known soulfulness of her character.
Why Amy Winehouse?
Amy [Winehouse] was always represented as a train wreck in the media, which was such a sad thing to do, because she was so much more – she was kind and sincere. That’s what I want to show people through my show. This show aims to provide a positive spin on her lifestyle. There are components of funny and heartfelt and soulful that bring this show together.
How did you decide to have your Adelaide show at La Boheme?
I have always envisioned my show to be in a bar setting – there’s something about the vibes at a bar mixed with being on a stage. Being a popular cabaret venue, I thought this would be a good fitting space. Although it is a small venue, I’m excited to have an intimate experience with my audience and deliver a performance that will hopefully leave them a little bit (more) in love with Amy.
As a first-time cabaret goer, what should be expected from your show?
Expect quite a lot of humor! I also tend to have an “interactive audience”, meaning I’ll be climbing off the stage mid-scene and involve the audience in my show. I also hope to delve into the heartfelt journey of her downward spiral – it’ll be a bittersweet experience.
Your voice is sensational and eerily close to Amy’s melodic tunes. How did you do that – did you take singing lessons or is it natural?
Thank you! Well, when I was studying music theatre, I fell in love with acting and as part of that I tried to imitate elements of Amy’s style of singing. I looked into the scientific breakdown of her voice and mannerisms and tried to adapt them into my routine. I wanted to capture the true essence of Amy’s individuality and try to replicate it for my show, while still maintaining my own sense of identity to make it authentic and real.
What demographic are you aiming for your show?
Typically, I seem to have attracted people from the ages of 25 and up. However, last year I noticed that people from a wider age-bracket came along. It was so refreshing and certainly a confidence boost to see that people from all walks of life and all ages were coming in to experience my show – be it to see another perspective of Amy’s life or simply learn about who Amy Winehouse was.
I see that you have taken your shows around Australia – are you planning to go overseas with it?
I really do hope I can – I’ve loved touring around Australia and am humbled by the response so far. Hopefully in a few years, I can take my show overseas. There’s a real hole in the market, especially when it comes to shows around celebrities who’ve led troubled lives. Sure, there are impersonators, but I feel like my show is unique and would fare well overseas. Maybe take it to London, one day?
How’d you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe?
While I was at the Perth Fringe, last year, I came to beknown of the Adelaide Fringe – which is the 3rd biggest fringe festival in the world. I decided to try my luck and apply to be a part of Adelaide Fringe 2017 and it worked!
I read in your show’s description about the “media’s obsession with celebrity” – would you mind elaborating on that?
Of course not – so, the point of my show was to expose the real Amy, underneath all that makeup. There is a real person underneath, who felt things and experienced basic emotions and feelings just like everybody else. Unfortunately, the media portrayed her to be this walking headline just to sell a couple of papers and music.
What makes you keep her spirit alive?
I want my show to be a honest performance of Amy’s life, where her music is celebrated and her lyrics [that are full of depth and meaning] are heard. As an actor, I aim to live out these lyrics, try to understand [and make sense of] her downward spiral, and touch on the heartfelt final public performance before her untimely death. The show will, of course, be interspersed with elements of happiness, but also focus on the gritty details. It’s going to be raw, it’s going to be beautiful. I also try to channel what Amy would say if she was here and make her talk directly to my // her audience. I want to take my audience on a walk-through of the major milestones that shaped Amy’s career and lifestyle choices.
If you would like to come face to face with Amy Winehouse from the grave – with her signature beehive do, her eyeliner and cleavage putting ours to shame, and a soulful voice that is bound to captivate your senses, then be prepared for a cabaret show that will turn heads and make your wildest dream of meeting the late legend come true. Frankly Winehouse will be in Adelaide from February 22th – 26th and with all shows nearly sold out, you want to jump in on those tickets NOW.