From owning a dance school to selling steak knives over the phone, Monique has done it all to live her passion on the stage. “She’s always found the happiest she’s been in her life is on the stage. I hope that’s no reflection on me,” he jokes. Now singing full-time, she’s ready to tell her story at the Sydney Fringe Festival in her show ‘The Real Thing’.
As well as being Monique’s husband, Nigel is Monique’s biggest fan. The pair have worked together before on a show called ‘Damn Good Divas’, where Monique played people like Dusty Springfield and Cher. This time, Nigel wanted her to tell her own fascinating story.
“It started when she was about to turn 40,” he says. “She was almost going to do her 40th birthday and she said, ‘how about everybody come, and I’m just going to tell you my epiphanies of turning 40’. She never ended up doing the show at her party, but she still wanted to do it. I think she also wanted to shrug off having to do ‘the right thing’, so she’s trying to do more things that are real to her, and saying, 'why am I doing this? Is it to please other people? Is it what I really want to do?', so she’s been reflecting on a lot of decisions in her life and what she’s really wanted to do.”
‘The Real Thing’ will see Monique leaving her comfort zone of performing in character. But with a story like hers, it’d be a shame for her to tell it as anyone but herself.
Monique began singing after a life-threatening car accident left her wheelchair-bound. “Monique was told she would never walk again. She owned a dance school at the time, so she focused on her voice. She always said she was the coolest singer in a wheelchair in Oberon.”
The show will also see Monique discussing ‘what mothers really talk about, what you really go through and sacrifice to be on the stage, and what it takes to get out of a wheelchair and be that kind of a survivor’.
As well as storytelling, Monique will be backed by a four-piece band to sing some of her favourite tunes. However, everyone will have to be quick on their feet thanks to the addition of a chocolate wheel. Audience members will come up to the stage to spin the wheel, ultimately deciding the direction of the show – like a choose-your-own-adventure.
“All the segments are all really stand-alone pieces – it doesn’t matter what order they’re in. You’ve got your start and finish, just as you're born and you die, but what happens in between, nobody knows. The whole premise of it is, just like life, it’s a game of chance... Everybody finds it exciting, so we’re trying to bring that element of it to the stage. As the Director, I’m scared because I don’t get to control as much as I would want because it’s by chance with the audience.”
It’s an incredible story and Nigel admires Monique for telling it. “It’s incredibly brave to tell your story. I don’t even hold a birthday party because I’m afraid no one is going to turn up, let alone tell my own story.”