Emma Clarendon chatted to the singer about her cabaret show Tales Of Madness In Paradise, which is being performed OSO Arts Centre (7th and 8th October), The Pheasantry (13th October) and Canal Café Theatre (16th and 17th October).
Hi Melinda, could you tell me more about what to expect from Tales of Madness from Paradise? The show is packed with stories about my year in Barbados where I had gone to curate a festival. We flew out early March 2020 but the covid pandemic swept Europe and all flights were cancelled. My partner and I took the decision to stay on. I ended up doing some wonderful musical projects, including a video about Barbados featuring sir Cliff Richard. I performed for Captain Sir Tom Moore and then in January 2021, I caught covid and ended up in a government facility. I went from glamour to grit! Apart from the stories, the show features new satirical songs on topics such as Cancel Culture, Covid love, Chlorinated Chicken & Baby Boomers. Most were written remotely with my co-writer Jeremy Limb over the past year and a half.
What are you most looking forward to about performing this show in front of audiences? Performing live is something I’ve missed so much, hearing the laughter from the audience and feeling that buzz from being on stage with a band. I did manage to do some shows in December in Barbados, before covid exploded on the island, so I’ve been luckier than most.
How did it feel to be out in Barbados for an entire year? It was strange as I saw all my colleagues in the UK locked down and unable to work. It wasn’t all fun and games for us though, we had a three week alcohol ban and for months we were only allowed on the beach for three hours in the morning to exercise. Then of course, I caught covid and when you catch covid in Barbados, they take you to a converted Army barrack government facility, as you’re not allowed to isolate and rest at home. Sharing four bathrooms with about 70 strangers and sleeping on rubber mattresses wasn’t pleasant. As for the food…let’s not go there!
It seems as though you created a lot of memories while in Barbados – would you say you have a favourite moment? Working with Sir Cliff Richard last summer was pretty awesome. He was such an absolute pro and extremely kind and generous with his time. We didn’t have a studio to record in, we recorded his voice in a spare bedroom under a makeshift tent of towels to deaden the sound. Now that’s being a good sport! In December I had to honour of performing for Captain Sir Tom Moore at a fundraising lunch. We wrote a song for him, then as an encore I sang ‘You’ll never walk alone’. I remember him singing along and waving his napkin in the air. He had such spirit and warmth. I’ve made good friends with some amazing musicians on the island and I also recorded a couple of short comic songs which went viral in Barbados so I’ve certainly made an impression, albeit a slightly cheeky one. Thankfully the Bajans have a terrific sense of humour. There’s also a thriving comedy scene so I did a couple of open mic slots in Bridgetown. I’ve made a load of fantastic friends and can’t wait to go back.
How does it feel to be performing in London again? London is my home. For me it’s the epicentre of a vibrant music and comedy scene. There are very few performers who do satirical cabaret and comedy so I’m lucky that London has so many amazing venues that accommodate and promote us. I did some shows in June and felt there was a wonderful spirit and lust for life and entertainment. We need it more than ever now.
What’s next in store for you? I’m writing an opera radio comedy series with top comedy writers: Kevin Day and Jeremy Limb. It’s fronted by a new character I’ve developed called Clemenzia von Trunksale. We will see what happens with that. It’s niche but its very funny.
By Emma Clarendon
Melinda Hughes’ Tales of Madness From Paradise will be at the OSO Theatre in Barnes on the 7th and 8th October, The Pheasantry in Chelsea on the 13 October and The Canal Street Cafe on the 16 and 17th October. For tickets go to www.melindahughes.com