All the Greats Rolled into One!! Matthew Hadgraft!!

IMG_2019

In a generation of digital everything, and more people wanting the real deal, it’s no wonder that piano playing, song writing, good looking, crooning and laughter making Matthew Hadgraft has taken the Australian vaudeville and cabaret scene by storm!! 

In the style of some of the greatest entertainers of all time, Matthew Hadgraft brings comedy to music and brings it all to the stage!. Then he turns the music over to his audience and they LOVE him. But in a fascinating twist, he then has the audience bring the music back to him with and it all begins again! This self invented style of interacting with the audience while playing piano has made Mr Hadgraft an megastar of Australian Cabaret!! 

His piano skills are akin to that of the late and great Victor Borge, while his prose, jokes and satirical grasp is every bit as high level as the genius Noel Coward!! So when Matthew Hadgraft performs as the host at Australia’s only vaudeville theatre and bar – it is set to be a night of truly amazing comedy, music and brilliance! So we took the man behind the piano aside to ask him a bunch of questions as he readies his ivories for this weekend’s show!! 

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Matt! I am a wayward performer who came to Melbourne like a moth toward a lightbulb. I used to be a teacher but sadly Comedy wasn’t part of the national curriculum so I burnt down the school.* 

How did you start in show biz?

I used to teach piano at a lady’s music school, and she was so disgusted by a poor ABBA show that she started her own. I became her Benny (and still play with them from time to time!)

What’s the toughest show you’ve ever performed and why?

ABBA could be pretty tough in places like Kingaroy where they’d rather drink in peace, but I once walked out on stage during a revue to find the band didn’t have any of the music I sent them. It was a complete train wreck, so I burnt down the venue**. 

How do you choose your performance material?

If I think about it and it makes me grin, it’s in. I also think of what’s viral and needs sending up (Miley Cirus was a good example in her day) 

How often do you rehearse?

I swim laps, so I am continually going through words of songs ’cause there’s nothing else to do. But I practise the piano every other day, in tighter and tighter concentration as the big night creeps up. 

Do you have any rituals when rehearsing or performing?

I have a coffee, don my fabulous coat and make sure I’ve brushed my teeth. Another ritual I observe is getting up in front of an audience (except during Fringe when there isn’t one.) 

What will you be performing at Speakeasy HQ on Saturday the 14th March?

Songs about things you didn’t realise you noticed, songs I forget the words to, and at least one damning indictment of Gen Y hipsters. I’m getting old. 

 Speakeasy HQ can’t WAIT to see the antics of the one and only Matthew Hadgraft on Saturday night!! Tickets are already selling fast and available at: http://www.Trybooking.com/FADK

*

Speakeasy HQ does not condone the burning down of schools.

**Speakeasy HQ does not condone the burning down of other venues.

Knock Three Times & Ask for Knuckles 




As one of the founding members of Speakeady HQ, Knuckles has become an institution behind the bar, as the creative driver and engineer of most aspects of the design and running of Australia’s first vaudeville theatre in over 50 years!!

But many have asked the same question – what does it take to be the Matriarch of such a volatile and electric empire such as Speakeady HQ? With over 30 artists each being coordinated and rallied onto stage each week to form the iconic 15-act vaudeville shows that has made Speakeasy HQ a Melbourne icon, Knuckles also takes on the task of of managing the entire business back end, ticketing, online systems, social media and all food and drink services at the theatre. 

In our hunt to know more we took the blonde bomb shell of the bar aside and asked her a stack of questions to see what makes her tick!!

Who are you and what do you do?

Knuckles is the name, and some would say it’s a well earned name. But that’s another story.

I’m a part owner of Speakeasy HQ. Most people don’t realise that Im a nearly 6ft blonde woman. I guess it’s the perfect juxtapose, since most people think that Knuckles is a bikie looking guy.  But running around during Showtime keeping the food moving, keeping our beautiful VIP’s happy and the easy speakers that venture through our doorway suitably liqueured up to enjoy the show, I try and do it all Speakeasy style. 

How did you begin managing a theatre?

I’ve always managed people, but now in the world of theatres & vaudeville, at this blistering pace, it takes a bit of grit and determination to make it all happen. Come to think of it I’ve always loved alcohol too so I guess it was always in my cards to put the two together and manage a project like this! I guess you could also say that I fell in love – and that made me want to see Speakeasy HQ succeed. I love the people, the mind blowing talent, and the electricity that surges through that place!

What’s the toughest show you’ve ever performed and why? 

Haha oh I’m not a performer, as much as I’m sure a few people wished I was or should I say hoped I performed burlesque! So I’ll answer it a different way. The toughest Speakeasy HQ we ever produced was probably our first one. Between the four of us we piled two vans and 4×4 car full of tables, chairs, bar and all sorts of equipment to produce a full show in an empty hall in South Melbounrne. It was about 2.5 ton of equipment that we had to move in and then move out, as well as working the show with 85 guests. None of us could move the next day… Apart from Roy… But he’s a bit tougher than most. 

How do you decide the what drinks and food will be served at Speakeasy HQ?

Some are by chance and others are by tradition. See, we have several kinds of seating in the theatre. We also have a rooftop bar. So, the rooftop bar is outdoors and in the summer months we serve a BBQ up there and the drinks are chosen to make you feel like you’re at a BBQ. So plenty of local beers and wines. As for the BBQ food -that was a tough one. We originally went with the obvious – sausages. And to tie into the theme of being at a show, we made them gourmet hot dogs. However, a lot of our audience are vegan and vegetarians, so we added baked potatoes and grilled corn. Then down in the theatre there are two kinds of food. The candy dolls are our ushers that wear the beautiful and iconic candy belt, stocked with crisps, popcorn, candy and they serve the pretzels. The pretzels were tradition as much as anything. They come from the Chicago vaudeville culture of the 1920’s where they had a lot of Germans migrants in their audiences and the bread pretzels are a part of their culture. But the other kind of food we offer is themed around opulence. We offer a stunning VIP package that seats tables of two at the front of stage, where we present them with locally sourced antipasto and premium wines throughout the show. So, the foods available are vast, varied and exciting. 

Do you have any rituals before the theatre opens each week?

Sleep… My only ritual! Once that day starts it is like a freight train not stopping until the wee small hours the next day and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

What can we expect at Speakeasy HQ on Saturday the 21st March?

It’s our first show on the new venue! I have a real bar!!!! Plus I’ll show you my talent 😉

My talent is remembering faces & the drink that matches, so from me you’ll see happy bar goers, smiling as they are walking away with a drink in hand without even saying a word in some cases 😉

Don’t miss out on your chance to eat pretzels, drink fine booze and say hi to Knuckles this Saturday night at Spealeady HQ!! Tickets are limited and available at http://www.trybooking.com/FADK