Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan celebrate Livvy and Pete

Michael Griffiths has been a much loved Fringe performer and over the years he brought a series of shows to Perth that have celebrated artists including Madonna, Annie Lennox, and all those ‘80s hits we loved back in high school.

This year he’s teamed up with Amelia Ryan to shine a spotlight on the careers of two iconic Australians, Olivia Newton-John and Peter Allen, or to give them more familiar names, Livvy and Pete.

I asked Giffiths if secretly he’d have preferred to be singing Oliva’s tunes in the show, but he’s said performing the songs of Peter Allen has no lack of camp moments.

“They’re both as camp as Christmas!” Griffiths said of the pair. Like his previous work the show is not a impersonation of the artists, but a celebration of their work. He does however for the first time have a costume change during a show, without giving away too much he said it involved substantial glitter and sequins.

Griffith says he has a lot of respect for both performers, “They both had careers that went international back when the world was a lot bigger. They both forged a path for other singers, and they’re both gay icons.”

Griffith said that as a child he wasn’t aware of his sexuality, but he later realised that like him, “all the gay boys wanted to be Livvy”.

“Peter Allen, he wasn’t allowed to come out by his record company, it would have killed his career, but he was proudly kind of queer and certainly didn’t hide it. He did after all ride on stage at Radio City Music Hall on the back of a camel – they’re both queer Aussie icons”. Griffiths said.

At the start of their show the pair joke that two singers probably never actually met, but they’re bringing them together for an hour of music and fun. It’s a throwaway comment that more than one reviewer has taken away as gospel.

“We kind of make a joke at the top of our show saying they probably never met, even though we know they did, I mean he gave I Honestly Love You, pretty much personally to her. They were never a double act, but they were certainly friendly.. We’ve had to shoehorn them together.” Griffiths said.

Griffiths said his first memories of Peter Allen were through is songs including I Still Call Australia Home and I Go to Rio.

“These two songs featured in my childhood, they were just songs that were present. I remember Mum had the sheet music, Mum was always the pianist, and we us had that sheet music among those we played at home.

“I wasn’t a fan beyond those two songs, I certainly didn’t have any of his albums.” Griffiths said, but a life lived in musical theatre have made him having a grow love and awareness of Allen’s work.

One challenge the pair did face was which songs to include, to find out what made the cut for the sing-a-long show you’ll have to head down and catch a performance.  There’s certainly no shortage to choose from.

Find out which tunes made the cut when Livvy and Pete: The Songs of Oliva Newton-John and Peter Allen plays at Fringe World between 5th -12th February. You can also catch Amelia Ryan in her solo show The Breast is Yet to Come which is on from 8th -11th February. 

Graeme Watson, Images: Nathaniel Mason and Claudio Raschella


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