With a warm smile, Catherine Alcorn welcomed me to the Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2015 – the talented performer is the perfect fit in her role as the event’s official ambassador, also taking to the stage to entertain audiences with her cabaret show.
“This is my second year as festival ambassador and I absolutely love everything it entails,” bubbles Catherine with her infectious passion as Noosa transformed into a mecca of entertainment, art and culture.
The Sydney-based independent performer’s dual appearance as ambassador and artist is the dream come true of a little girl who grew up singing.
Catherine moved to Wagga at 18 years old to study Acting for Screen and Stage at Charles Sturt University, and began to appear as the singer in a cabaret duo with a classmate.
“I think that’s where I learned the art of cabaret, working with audiences and live entertainment, that’s where I tread the boards in the earlier days,” remembers Catherine.
Catherine spent a few years living in Canada and the UK, returning to Australia in 2007 to teach music in primary schools, work at Channel 9 as PA to the head of sport, before moving into film and TV production and eventually producing what would go on to become a headline cabaret show.
In 2010, The Divine Miss Bette opened at Slide Lounge in Sydney – in 2013 it was the highest grossing show of Sydney’s Glen Street Theatre season and touring national and international audiences.
“Playing Miss Bette has been an incredible experience and door opener for me as an unknown artist,” says Catherine, who has had two of her pieces commissioned by Kate Ceberano, and also brought to life a new take on Fleetwood Mac keyboardist Christine McVie with her Go Your Own Way cabaret show.
But at the Noosa festival, Catherine took to the stage as herself.
“This is the first time I’m performing a show just as me,” she shares, “I wanted to tell some of my own stories, I’m picking fun stories and pairing songs with them.
“I’ve been performing in Noosa since 2012 and a lot of people have said, tell us your story.”
And, doesn’t she have a few!
“My vocal coach is the man who discovered Bette Midler, he lives around the corner from me in Elizabeth Bay in Sydney,” says Catherine, “when I was putting Miss Bette together, I was working with a cellist on some of my original songs and he said, oh the man who discovered her and who owned the Continental Baths in New York in the ‘70s lives around here.
“And, in New York in 2013, I went to an open mic night just off Broadway at Birdland and did a song from my Miss Bette show, a woman came up to me and said, ‘you don’t happen to do From a Distance in your show do you? My friend (Grammy award-winning artist) Julie Gould is the woman who wrote that song, she’d love to meet you!’ So a week later I’m in a cab with a bottle of Veuve and a bunch of roses on my way to Julie Gould’s house to spend an evening with her!”