How does it feel to have a one-woman show written especially for you by one of your country’s leading writers? Pretty damn good, according to Songs for Nobodies‘ Bernadette Robinson – though, to be clear, there was nothing passive about this privilege in her case.
In the post-show Q&A I chaired with Robinson at the West End’s Ambassadors Theatre this weekend, the Australian star revealed how it was she who approached both author Joanna Murray-Smith and director Simon Phillips, then artistic director of Melbourne Theatre Company, after hearing about their work on Bombshells, a series of monologues they created for fellow antipodean Caroline O’Connor.
The “begging” paid off – and certainly so for audiences, including Friday night’s packed house. Songs for Nobodies takes advantage of Robinson’s extraordinary vocal ability – to conjure the distinct singing voices of Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas – as well as her powerful acting in a series of five monologues in which five different ‘nobody’ women recount how their lives were changed by brushes with these famous twentieth-century divas.
As part of the post-show discussion, Robinson also tantalised us with details of some of her other work, including the subsequent solo piece Murray-Smith and Phillips created for her, Pennsylvania Avenue (can we have it all staged in London, please?) and, to prove that her talent is in no way limited to the Songs for Nobodies‘ quintet, gave us an exclusive snatch of her Shirley Bassey.
We also discussed her international journey with the show to date, how she feels making her West End debut, who she’d choose if she could only ever sing one person’s music ever again, and what she listens to in her spare time. Watch in full below.
Event photography by Peter Jones.
Perry O’Bree live-tweeted the post-show discussion for StageFaves.