After the critical and popular success of Mickey and Judy
during the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, the show went on to win many prestigious international theatre and cabaret awards. Now Michael Hughes is back to perform his musical pseudo-memoir as part of the Global Cabaret Festival.
Brian Bantugan: What inspired you to create Mickey and Judy?
Michael Hughes: I was looking for a project that would give me a starring role. My childhood psychiatrist had contacted me and he made copies of his notes from my sessions when I was a child. I read the notes and they were so funny that I started to share them - just casually over dinner - with my friends. They thought it was so funny and said, “You have to write a show about it.”
How did your relationship with Judy Garland develop?
The first time I saw her was in The Wizard of Oz
and from then on I was obsessed with that movie. I had figurines that I would act the show out with.
Are there other music icons that you associate yourself with?
A lot. I love movie musicals and Broadway. After Judy Garland is Julie Andrews because The Sound of Music
is my favorite musical. Gene Kelly of Singing in the Rain
. His picture has been hanging in my bedroom since I was about six years old.
Do you feel naked doing a show about your life to people you don’t know?
It’s like giving birth to a baby on stage in front of people.
What do you love about doing cabaret?
I love being able to connect with the audience. I love the feeling of them being my friends in my house and I am just telling stories and singing songs. I like that feeling of familiarity.
Have you always loved sharing your personal stories to people?
I come from a family of really good storytellers. I’ve always wanted to express myself in this kind of way but I just didn’t know it was possible. I wasn’t sure if I could do a show like that.
Many reviews state that you sound like Judy Garland. Have you always sounded like her when you sing?
I am not doing an impression. I have never tried to impersonate her. I wasn’t aware that I was doing that until I noticed that I also sound like Julie Andrews and Frank Sinatra. I really learned to sing from these people.
You’ve done successful plays, concerts and cabarets. What do you enjoy doing the most?
I enjoy working. I like the process. I love creating. My favorite thing is doing my own stuff. Mickey and Judy is my favourite thing because I have so much control over it. I’m so familiar with the material and the characters. I know exactly what I want to do. It’s very fulfilling in that way.
What work do you do when you’re not in a show?
When I am not in a show, I am searching for a show. Or doing lot of research on what’s going on. I really am just writing and auditioning.
What are your dream projects?
I am working on an extended version of Mickey and Judy
. I have some offers from some theatres in the US for a 75-minute version and a more theatrical version.
Are you single now?
Does being in a relationship get in the way of your career?
If you’re in the right relationship then it’s very easy. But for me, I travel so much - it’s just a lot of extra effort that I’d rather put into my work. They say if you’re a performer, don’t be with a performer. I am not sure if I agree with that or not.
Do you meet the right kind of guys when you do your shows?
I meet everybody. I’m so tired when I do the shows that I just go home and get into bed. Then I wake up the next day and start again.
No indecent proposals after your shows?
I’ve got a lot of middle-aged women who want to marry me.
Also performing in the Global Cabaret Festival are Jean Stilwell and Patti Loach in What Was I Saying?,
Albert Schultz in Young at Heart
, and Brent Carver.
Mickey and Judy is at The Global Cabaret Festival on Sat, October 13 at 3:45pm and Sun, October 14 at 2pm, at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane. globalcabaret.ca, mickeyandjudy.ca