MATTHEW Mitcham is bringing his cabaret show Twists and Turns to Melbourne for the Midsumma festival, and going into opening night he’s a little nervous.
Although the Olympic gold medallist (pictured above) has been performing the autobiographical show for over six months, Mitcham told the Star Observer he and the creative team revisited the material to make a few tweaks since its last run as part of Adelaide’s Feast Festival last November.
With a script by London-based cabaret performer Spanky, Twists and Turns examines the highlights and lowlights of his life in the spotlight, from his historic gold medal win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to his struggles with mental illness and drug use.
The show has been well-received since its inception.
“I did notice in the very beginning that people were extremely surprised that I could actually sing,” he said.
“I kind of put it down to the fact that people came in with really low expectations, so they were pleasantly surprised.”
When the positive feedback kept coming, Mitcham decided it must mean people are connecting with his story and relating to his experiences.
“Those are the things that people share with me after the show, and that’s what makes doing the show really rewarding,” he said.
One of the more challenging stories Mitcham shares in the show deals with his experiences and struggles with drug use — a topic he knows hits close to home for many in the gay community.
“The more we speak about it… well, we kind of need to speak about it in the right way, and speak about it in a way that de-stigmatises ice, so that people don’t feel so ashamed to actually be able to speak about it openly and get help,” he said.
Mitcham has been performing across the country since his show debuted at last year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival, but Feast was his first time doing it at a specifically LGBTI festival. He was even an “ambassador” for the festival, giving him a chance to get out and connect to Adelaide’s LGBTI community.
“It feels like a way to give back to the community, because I feel like the community has supported me so much throughout my entire journey,” he said.
Twists and Turns is on as part of Midsumma at Arts Centre Melbourne on January 30 and 31. For more information and to book tickets visit the website.
The show is also coming to Sydney in February as part of the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival. Click here for details.