A cabaret journey from Paris to Adelaide

By Lauren Hermon

When Michaela Burger was discovered by local acoustic guitarist, Greg Wain, while busking with her ukulele in hand at the Adelaide Central Markets, she had no idea the similarities she shared with a French cabaret singer who passed away more than 50 years earlier.

Now Michaela’s portrayal of Edith Piaf, one of France’s greatest international cabaret stars, is the inspiration behind her and Greg’s cabaret show Exposing Edith, which they are bringing to cabaret festivals worldwide.

From Adelaide to Paris, the connection Michaela and Edith share is strong despite having never met.

“Edith was also discovered busking on a street in Paris, so I think that’s kind of cool,” says Michaela, who became fascinated by the French woman’s life when she was handed an Edith Piaf CD while living in France.

“I even look like her which makes it a bit easier,” she laughs.

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Michaela Burger channels Edith Piaf during an Exposing Edith show

Exposing Edith gives an original interpretation of songs made famous by the French cabaret performer, including the glamour and grit of Parisian life in the 20th century.

The show also follows Piaf from the street to great music halls, through her loves and losses, her tragedies and successes and a life driven by passion and devotion to her audience.

Michaela will perform in a Flying Penguin productions show ‘Juliet Letters’ at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival next month, before reuniting with Greg for an Exposing Edith performance at United Kingdom’s Edinburgh Fringe in August, where they will perform 21 shows over two weeks.

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Greg and Michaela take us on a Paris adventure in their Exposing Edith cabaret show

The duo are among nine independent South Australian acts to receive funds to support them in taking their work to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe as part of a new Made in Adelaide initiative.

The Made in Adelaide program aims to build a strong presence of South Australian work in Edinburgh during its summer festival season.

The program helps to develop cultural and market connections between the world’s two most recognised festival hubs and grow access to the Edinburgh marketplace for local artists and companies.

Despite creating a cabaret presence interstate and overseas, Michaela hasn’t forgotten where it all began.

“We’ve done an Exposing Edith South Australian regional tour, through Lameroo, Keith and Port Augusta, and all of those small towns,” she says.

“In Adelaide there’s that ‘family feeling’ with people in the arts; you know they’re going to have your back because there’s no rivalry,” adds Michaela, who, along with Greg, won Best Cabaret Show at this year’s Adelaide Fringe.

“When it comes to festivals here, the organisation that goes into them is amazing… South Australia really knows what they’re doing.”

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Original photo of Edith Piaf, one of France’s greatest international cabaret stars

Michaela and Greg performed their final Melbourne show last weekend, and are now on their way back to Adelaide for a movie fundraiser to raise money for their Edinburgh Fringe venue hire and other expenses.

The fundraiser is at The Regal Theatre in Kensington Park this Thursday (26 May 2016), from 6:15pm.

Tickets available on the Exposing Edith Facebook page.