Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Songs for Nobodies

Songs For Nobodies
Bernadette Robinson in Songs For Nobodies

If you are an avid reader of Aussie Theatre, you would have seen a number of rave reviews for the runaway hit Songs for Nobodies from all around the country.

This is the sort of production that would not normally make its way south to Adelaide and would potentially be seen as a “risk” despite the multi-return seasons in the eastern states. Wrap it up in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival however and open it on the first weekend of the festival frivolities and then you have a captive audience. And this reviewer is so appreciative of that!

If you’ve read the reviews, I’m probably going to repeat a few things… but it’s the sheer talent of Bernadette Robinson and Joanna Murray Smith’s stunning writing of such captivating characters that must be recognised yet again.

For those living under a rock or not yet lucky enough to see this production, Songs for Nobodies is a series of stories and songs combined in a touching and hilarious piece of musical theatre, where five ordinary women recount their memories of meeting the extraordinary Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas.

Robinson portrays each of the “nobodies” as well as spookily bringing to life each of the stars.  I am not a spiritual person but if Robinson was standing up on that stage claiming to be possessed by the spirits of these legendary women, I would believe it.  Watching a slim, white woman sing like an African-American, overweight, drug addled and distinctive jazz singer (Billie Holiday) is nothing short of remarkable when you almost cannot tell the difference.

[pull_left]anyone and everyone should catch the show while it’s in their city – or get on a plane to the nearest performance. It’s stunning![/pull_left]

The chameleonic ways in which Robinson switches between characters in the blink of an eye is so clever and captivating.  Robinson’s control and tonality in her voice is pitched at the perfect level for each character.  This is what live theatre and the beauty of live performance is all about.

As for the writing, Murray Smith’s work on Bombshells is turned up a notch to provide some really beautiful characters, some very funny moments and a good dollop of nostalgia with it.  The Edith Piaf section is particularly stunning and there were not many dry eyes in the house… not to mention the hauntingly accurate portrayal of the “little sparrow” and the beautiful story of the nobody associated with her moment in time.

I could continue gushing, but I’d probably not be saying anything different to any of the other reviewers who have raved about this show.  It’s not media hype, it’s not pandering to a particular producer or commercial need… this is just damned good live theatre and anyone and everyone should catch the show while it’s in their city – or get on a plane to the nearest performance.  It’s stunning.

Songs for Nobodies continues as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival until June 10.  Bookings and more info can be found at

Hayley Horton

Hayley was an arts worker in South Australia for twelve years working freelance for small to medium clients as well as for companies such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Theatre Company SA, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth and the Australia Business Arts Foundation. As part of her freelance work, Hayley founded the ATG Curtain Call Awards (which is now an annual gala event), co-produced three 24 Hour Show charity fundraiser events, has judged for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and reviewed for Aussie Theatre and the Adelaide Theatre Guide. Hayley now runs a boutique events and arts management business, Footlight Events and in her spare time, is involved with Adelaide’s amateur theatre community as a producer, performer and director.

Hayley Horton

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