It all began with a phone call in March of 2015. That was when an Adelaide stranger first presented the then as-yet unknown Adelaide cabaret starlet Deborah Brennan with a question: ‘Do you sing?’

Little did either of them know, that phone call was to be a fateful turning point in Deborah’s life.

Fast forward to 2019 and the two have teamed up again, this time to present the show that tells the story of that moment: The Hummingbird Effect.

An intimate piece about chance encounters with strangers and the enormous repercussions these seminal moments in life can have, The Hummingbird Effect features piano ballad covers of iconic artists including Pink Floyd, David Bowie and The Church.

A young Adelaide performer now living in the UK, Deborah says she is connected with music of a bygone era because of the stories the lyrics tell, which help her to tell her own story.

“The show is not really musicy enough just to be music, and it’s not really theatrical enough to be theatre, so I decided it must be cabaret. And it’s based on a true story. It’s a little moment in life where I collided with a stranger, obviously not physically, but just a seminal moment that spun my life out into different directions and it’s all set to a backing track of live music that I play. It’s iconic songs from the ’70s and ’80s,” she says.

“I just gravitate to that era naturally because my parents, are baby boomers so I was brought up listening to that era, and I’m big on lyrics, and I like to find songs that have a good lyrical component and, they’re there in spades.”

The mysterious stranger the show is based upon is Brett A. Trimboli who Deborah is working with to produce The Hummingbird Effect.

“This is the first time we’ve actually teamed up to produce a show, and Brett is an important figure. He actually has a cameo role in the show. Again, not physically, just he’s a key cameo in the story,” she says. “He messaged me in August, when I was midway through doing the Edinburgh Fringe and, Edinburgh’s quite hectic and I wasn’t sure whether I was going to do Adelaide again or not. I decided I wanted to take a break and then I got this random message out of the blue from Brett asking if I was bringing The Hummingbird Effect back to Adelaide because he wanted to produce it.”

“Brett and I met a few years ago when he was running The Soul Box, and I was playing for somebody else’s show. So when he messaged me to ask if I would like a co-producer, I think it was a bit of a win-win for both of us because, since The Soul Box closed down, he hasn’t really had a venue to have artists anymore and he wanted to get back into the arts scene. And to be honest I was grateful for someone to offer to help produce a show.”

Playing at The Jade and Scots Church during February, Deborah is set to reveal a new side of her musicianship and performance by taking on cabaret.

“If you’d said years ago that I would be doing cabaret, I would have just laughed. I never thought I had that in me. And to be honest, when I debuted it last year, it really was just me dipping my toe in the water to see if could I write a show that people would come to see, and if could I pull it off,” she says.

“And it went better than I was expecting, so I figured I have a knack for something that I didn’t even know I could do that. I always had terrible performance anxiety at uni; really bad performance anxiety. I was studying classical piano so that helped. But I’ve discovered a real love of telling stories, and I think that’s what people like about the shows that I write.”

You can see Deborah Brennan in The Hummingbird Effect at Adelaide Fringe by grabbing your tickets HERE.

By Libby Parker