Words by Zoe Kirkwood
I’ve always been a huge fan of Amy Winehouse, in fact I don’t think that it’s physically possible to not to be completely awed by her talent. So, understandably, I literally jumped at the opportunity to interview the lovely Ashleigh Kreveld who’s show, Frankly Winehouse: The Amy Winehouse Cabaret, is coming to Adelaide for the first time as part of the Fringe Festival.
Right now Ashleigh is crazy busy – with festival season upon us – she is jetting all around the country touring her show. When we get to catch up she has kindly jumped out of an Uber on her way from the airport and is holed up in a café with her luggage before heading to her hotel so that we can chat!
Her show Frankly Winehouse is a detailed portrait of Amy that is literally created ‘in her own words’, using Winehouse’s own dialogue sourced from interviews and films. With a whole lot of sass; a damn fine look-a-like match; and all of Amy’s greatest hits, Kreveld’s show promises to be a fabulous evening out! In Adelaide it will be staged at the always fabulous La Boheme for five shows only - so get in quick!
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You’ve just come out of a series of sold out shows in Perth, which is an awesome feat! What do you think is it that makes Amy Winehouse so intriguing and enduring to audiences?
I think that she is so intriguing to audiences because people saw a side of her in the media where she was portrayed as this kind of flawed train wreck, which they really capitalised on. Obviously the tragic turn of events that happened to her also left people quite shocked. I think that her undeniable talent combined with this media creation really leaves people wanting to understand her more.
You’re one multi-talented lady – writing and starring in the show – how did it come into being?
I originally did a 30-minute study of the show when I was first exploring and finding the character as a part of an industry run cabaret workshop just out of drama school. I decided to do it for the first time for Melbourne Fringe in 2015 where I kind of fleshed it out a little bit more. With that it became a little bit more dramatic, and more of a homage, a real profile of her. I did a lot of research – pretty much everything I could get my hands on about her – every interview; every movie/documentary; every book – I would have watched or listened to or read so many times. I really just consumed so much information about her and formed the show from that. Now, two years on, I have a more fully-fledged show that is quite different from what it was initially. It has been really exciting and fun to see it evolve.
Do you have a favourite Amy Winehouse song? Is it possible to choose?
I guess her more up-tempo stuff is generally really sassy and witty – with songs like 'Fuck Me Pumps' that are quite funny. Obviously there is real sadness behind songs such as 'Rehab', but I think 'Wake Up Alone', where she is talking about her lover Blake, has such a haunting melody and is incredibly beautiful and would have to be my favourite. Really though, all of her songs are just so incredibly eloquent – they are effectively poetry. Originally she wrote poetry before turning to music writing and I think that this shows in all of her lyrics.
Are there any Fringe acts that you are keen to check out whilst in Adelaide? Or is your scheduling too crazy?
I only have one night off – but I have some friends doing shows that I will have to try and see!
Amy is such an incredible character with such a tumultuous history. Is it difficult to play her and does it take a lot of time to slip in and out of character?
It does take a little bit of time. Oh gosh, this is going to sound a bit Diva-ish of me, but I always want to be alone for the first twenty minutes before the show begins – I can’t look at my phone, I can’t even be with my piano player. I have to sort of alienate myself because I start the show off stage, coming in through the audience so I really have to have the character right from the get go! When you are playing a character that is so adored and so loved I really want to try and do her justice to the best of my ability and I find that I do need to take some time to switch on. However, I do find that once I’m up there it's not hard to play her – once the show starts I am kind of embodying her and not really thinking like me – which may sound kind of weird and wanky. It can be quite emotional at times and I can feel very drained after the show. It’s really great to play someone who really felt deeply like a lot of us performers do and so it can be good to be able to channel some of the energy that you have from personal experiences of anxiety or nervousness into the character.
OMG it doesn’t sound Diva-ish at all! But talking about Diva antics - if you could have a theatre rider with anything on it what would be your top five things?
Mmmm… (pauses) What would I have? …. There would have to be sparkling mineral water, coconut water and an endless supply of fresh fruit – Gosh! … I can't even think of five - just leave it at that – it sounds pretty good!
Wow that was a very un-Amy Winehouse answer.
(Laughs) Gosh…I can’t even comprehend those kinds of things. I’m not really that glamorous!
Thank you so much Ashleigh!
Ashleigh Kreveld's show Frankly Winehouse: The Amy Winehouse Cabaret is running from Feb 22 to 26 at La Boheme.