Opera and cabaret singer Penny Shaw broke through during the COVID crisis, scoring the role of Despina in WA Opera’s acclaimed production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte at The Maj.
“Personally I haven’t done badly so there’s some survivor guilt there,” Shaw laughs.
“I was very fortunate because the border was closed so it had to be recast and I got that role.
“Ever since I moved here (from the UK in 1999) I’ve been trying for a major role so it was nice to get a proper principal role in a lovely production.
“Who knows what follows but it’s certainly something off the bucket list.”
Most immediately, Shaw co-stars with fellow WA Opera principal Robert Hofmann in a rich repertoire of songs inspired by star-crossed love for Mismatched! at the Fringe.
Accompanied by ubiquitous pianist Tommaso Pollio, Mismatched! combines songwriters Sondheim, Bernstein, Lloyd Webber and more.
“There is something so delightful about mismatched couples,” Shaw says.
“It wasn’t the original theme, we thought we would do a much more traditional cabaret.
“We put the duets together and they were all a bit problematic so we thought we’d run with that as a theme.
“But we’re not a couple! Robert makes me look petite and he’s a great colleague and singer, and we’re with Tommaso, which is wonderful.”
Performed in the wood-panelled Library at Girls School, the show brings together quality singing and old fashioned cabaret.
“We take the audience everywhere from Downton Abbey to Downtown New York,” Hofmann says “Penny and I work so well together, I never quite know what she’s up to, she keeps me on my toes!”
The duo recently collaborated on Divalicious-OperaRocks at Government House in July, a reboot of an earlier Fringe show with fellow soprano Fiona Cooper Smyth. Shaw also sang from her balcony to neighbours and friends, posting on Facebook while venues were dark and cruise ships stranded.
And next month she will host Opera in the Park as MC on the 30th anniversary of the annual extravaganza.
Mismatched! is on January 15 to 25 at 6.40pm (55-minute show) in The Library at the Girls’ School, with an extra accessible show on January 16 at 4pm in the Home Economics room.
Tickets are available at https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/mismatched-fw2021.