- CHARITY BENEFIT
By John Weatherford
“They sing because they can’t speak anymore” is how Michael Hughes explained the reality of the world of musical theatre. It may also be the reality of the life of this enchanting artist whose one-man show, Mickey & Judy, made its New York City debut at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre in the Village. Mr. Hughes’ highly autobiographical show shared, with a capacity crowd and newly captured fans, parts of the journey he has taken to arrive at this place in his life. And, what a journey it appears to have been!
What makes this young man so engaging to watch? What makes him so darn likeable? Could it be his ability to embrace the audience, making each feel like a friend and confidant? Could it be his ability to weave songs into his story that bring smiles and heartfelt laughter to even the most jaded cabaret-goer? Could it be the worldliness he has wrapped in a blanket of hopeful innocence?
However one analyzes it, I venture it is the result of his quest to seek the truth of his passion for musical theatre and movie musicals: that wacky medium which allows fantasy to be accepted as fact and the apparent nonsensical bursts into song a profound human communication. I would also venture to say that this light is blessed with the desire and ability to lift an audience from their often pedestrian thoughts and connect them to visions of their own youthful goodness. It is clear that he has lived the experience of that child who cannot understand at what point that youthful goodness became a matter of concern. He has fought to understand why he could not and would not move away from the seeming fantasies of a child and make the passage to the next acceptable phase to apparent normalcy. He has fought for his need to be possessed with the characters that would occupy his world of storytelling. He has, indeed, dealt with the apprehension and fear that this fixation invokes in family and friends. Because of this refusal to conform, he has learned to know why a character can’t speak anymore. He has also discovered that place where words have no choice but to become music. He has fought and won the right to maintain and enhance the gifts he was born to share. Many of his battles were fought at a mighty price. However, he has won the right to be different, and to be inspirational. He shared with the collectively enthralled crowd the observation of the family-ordered psychiatrist, at age four, that no matter what they tried to do to change him, he would still be… an actor.
For so many of us who adore the theatre and support it with loving loyalty, it is enlightening to be reminded of the challenges and obstacles that forced us to change our paths and seek to be “regular blokes.” Thanks to his fortitude and determination to fight for his destiny, he allows us, if ever so briefly, to remember what it might have been like had we fought a little harder to be worthy of being a true entertainer. Michael Hughes has proven that he has earned what is required to hold that title. I have no doubt that all of us who have had the chance to see him in this early stage of his cabaret career will look back with pride as we say, “I saw him when… “
Mickey, the nickname he held, and Judy, yes, the iconic Judy Garland, has one more show at the Duplex, Thursday the 20th of September at 7pm. I suggest that you make your reservations now, or you’ll have to wait for it to be extended or until it finds a bigger home.
There is a message in this show that transcends its sheer joy. It is a message about the power of the human spirit as it fights convention to release the exceptional.
See www.MikeHughes.com for info and video and audio clips of the singer. For a look at this show and a video preview, see www.mickeyandjudy.ca . Mickey & Judy is at The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street (corner of Seventh Avenue), Greenwich Village. Thursday, September 20 at 7 PM, the remaining scheduled performance. Phone number is (212) 255-5438. Regular admission is $10 plus a two-beverage minimum. Make reservations at www.TheDuplex.com or go right to www.theduplex.com and click on “Cabaret Calendar” for an online reservation (and their full schedule, with descriptions of shows).
*Photos Russ Weatherford