Lisa Adam pays tribute to the late singer in her captivating cabaret show 'Back To Crack'.
Despite her short career, Amy Winehouse continues to be an inspiration for countless musicians and performers.
But while she shot to stardom for her inimitable voice and songwriting ability, it was her tragic battle with substance abuse that kept her in the headlines. For musical theatre star Lisa Adam, Winehouse’s chaotic lifestyle provided the inspiration for an unusual cabaret show.
“It was really the idea of a choreographer friend of mine who rang me five years ago and said, ‘You should be Amy Housewine’.
"A charity gig came up and I thought this is a good chance to try her out. Trevor Ashley rewrote the lyrics to ‘Valerie’ with the word ‘Valium’ and it was really well received.
"It started as a bit of a laugh for charity and next minute we had a full-blown show and festivals around the county.”
When Winehouse passed away in 2011, Adams chose to withdraw ‘Back To Crack’, feeling that its content would be inappropriate. She didn’t think much more about the eponymous Amy Housewine until Sydney Mardi Gras invited her to perform the show.
“The original show was rather a parody of Amy’s extra curricula activities that were being tactlessly blazoned all over the media.
"It was with a lot of trepidation that I did Mardi Gras but I worked with Trevor and he helped me create the character of Amy Housewine.
"We thought it would be a shame to rewrite the entire show so we turned Amy Housewine into a completely different entity.
"The real Amy Winehouse was this iconic, extraordinarily talented young woman whereas Amy Housewine is only good at getting trashed. She happens to look like Amy Winehouse and sing her songs but never claims she's better than her.
"That way, we're able to get away with having Amy Housewine onstage without being in total bad taste.”
Although the one-woman show is a comedy, Adams stresses the importance of its darker scenes.
“A 90-minute show would be very boring if it was just joke after joke, you need to have light and shade. Amy Housewine definitely has a problem but rather than her just being a train wreck onstage, we do go into the darker side of where it all started and how she became the way she is.
"The heart of our show is about the seriousness of addiction. While the show is incredibly funny, I also think that the audiences are enlightened by the end of it.
"At one point Amy Housewine performs a monologue about the first time she tried Class A drugs and at the end, no one claps. I absolutely love that moment.”
As a self-confessed Amy Winehouse fanatic, Adam enjoys paying tribute to the singer’s unique voice.
“Her voice is very difficult to emulate but I do my best. I don't think anyone can really do her justice, that was part of her appeal.”
But the real transformation from Adam to Amy happens in the makeup room.
“The main thing that helps me get into character is the costume. I have temporary tattoos all over my body and they take a good 45 minutes to apply.
"The makeup and the costume and the wig takes about an hour but I find that going through that process helps me get into the zone.
"People probably assume that I down a bottle of vodka before I go onstage but I'm not that much of a method actor!”
‘Back To Crack’ runs at the Brisbane Powerhouse December 5-7.