Over 16 days and nights, Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic directors Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect have served up a program of 430 artists in 147 performances. Discover new venues and old friends and expect to feel upturned, challenged and delighted by incredible performers that could change your world view. Australian Arts Review takes a look at 15 shows worth checking out:
Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs
Her Majesty’s Theatre: Sunday 11 June 2017 – 4.00pm / 8.00pm
Named one of the most fun people in show business by Time Magazine, Olivier and Tony Award winning actor, singer and author Alan Cumming makes his Cabaret Festival debut with his raucous one-man show – a wildly entertaining mix of intimate stories from the sentimental to the sassy and witty reinterpretations of pop songs and stage classics. Inspired by his infamous Club Cumming in his dressing room during the revival of Cabaret on Broadway, joining him on stage for a night of irreverent humour and mischief-making is long-time collaborator and Emmy Award winning musical director Lance Horne and band.
Her Majesty’s Theatre: 15 & 16 June 2017
Iconic Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly and magnetic Irish-French chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan star in this evocative new music theatre work, joined by O’Sullivan’s long-time musical director Feargal Murray. Inspired by the works of W.B. Yeats and other great Irish poets, Ancient Rain combines the spoken word with a song-cycle of new compositions. Kelly and O’Sullivan inhabit a range of diverse characters as they reveal a tapestry of themes, from the cost of love and the price of independence, to the inadequacy of faith and the power of forgiveness.
Cameron Goodall: The Sound of Falling Stars
Dunstan Playhouse: 21 & 22 June 2017
From Hank Williams, through Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, and Bobby Darin to Tim and Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, Bon Scott, Kurt Cobain and more, this is a night of musical joy and monumental loss. Actor/singer Cameron Goodall (Sydney Theatre Company, The Lion King) displays his amazing vocal versatility for the first time, as he magically inhabits the souls of these great singing stars who gave us so much, and died so young.
Christie Whelan Browne: Vigil
Space Theatre: 10 – 12 June 2017
Christmas Eve: a time for peace, love, carols, reunion and family. But not this Christmas Eve. Not this reunion. Liz, the 30-something prodigal daughter bursts through the door after years of sybaritic globe-trotting. A musical and theatrical tour de force, stunningly portrayed by Christie Whelan Browne, Liz is talented, shameless, beautiful, troubled and hilariously needy. But this time she wants more than pinot gris, a loan, and to borrow her mother’s clothes – she wants answers. A mesmerising journey of song and theatrical intimacy, Whelan Browne will be accompanied by piano giant Joe Chindamo and violin virtuoso Zoë Black.
Cyrens: The Swinging Songbook of Cy Coleman
Space Theatre: 21 & 22 June 2017
A musical revue celebrating the legendary Broadway composer and jazzman Cy Coleman, known for shows such as Sweet Charity, Barnum, On the Twentieth Century, The Life and City of Angels, but his musical roots were in the jazz world. His songs are known for their sophistication and wit. Amanda Harrison (Wicked), Chelsea Gibb (Cabaret, Chicago) and Melissa Langton (The Fabulous Singlettes) are also known for their sophistication and wit – but more for singing loud and high and knowing how to sing the hell out of a song!
Elise McCann: Dahlesque
Space Theatre: 17 & 18 June 2017
Sardonic and sadistic characters fill the best-selling books of the irrepressible Roald Dahl. So, we invite the generations he’s filled with fun and fear to gorge on his ghoulishness in this ‘gloriumptiously’ irreverent concert. Starring Elise McCann (2016 Helpmann Award-winner as Miss Honey in Matilda the Musical) and an astonishingly inventive nine-piece orchestra, you’ll hear songs inspired by blockbuster musicals and movies including Matilda, both Willy Wonka and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach, as well as original compositions of Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. Let the words wash over you like music.
Le Gateau Chocolat: Black
Dunstan Playhouse: 22 & 23 June 2017
A musical phenomenon, Le Gateau Chocolat is renowned for his drag shows and contemporary opera performances. This Nigerian cabaret legend has given show-stopping performances across the globe including at the Queen’s Jubilee, the Royal Opera House, La Clique and La Soirée. In this intimate and confessional show, Le Gateau Chocolat’s repertoire ranges from Wagner and Purcell to Nina Simone and Whitney Houston to relate his hopes, his fears and his struggle with depression.
Lucky: Songs by Kylie
Space Theatre: 10 & 11 June 2017
First Madonna. Then Annie Lennox. Now, Helpmann Award-winner Michael Griffiths and writer/ director Dean Bryant reunite to explore the songs, stories and locomotion of our very own impossible princess, Kylie Minogue. Backed by a three-piece band, Michael gives a five-star ride to all the songs you can’t get out of your head. Put your hand on your heart and step back in time.
Meow Meow: Souvenir
Her Majesty’s Theatre: 17 & 18 June 2017
Global audiences have been hypnotised, inspired and terrified by her ‘kamikaze cabaret’. Now, it’s our turn once more to surrender to the sultry charms of actress, singer, dancer and diva, Meow Meow, whose previous genre-busting collaborations include Pink Martini, Barry Humphries, Amanda Palmer, the Dresden Dolls, and symphony and philharmonic orchestras. For this exclusive performance, Meow Meow joins forces with the Orchester der Kleinen Regiment to summon the ghosts of Her Majesty’s Theatre, past, present and future.
Her Majesty’s Theatre: Friday 23 June 2017 – 2.00pm / 7.30pm
Five-time Grammy, two-time Emmy nominated Ambassador to the Great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein returns to Adelaide Cabaret Festival to perform a stunning tribute with a 17 piece big band. Paying tribute to Frank Sinatra and his friends, Feinstein will draw on inspiration from his own close personal friendships such as Liza Minnelli, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr, and many others – allowing him to offer a very different perspective and point of view in this dazzling celebration of the era.
Naomi Price: Lady Beatle
Dunstan Playhouse: 10 & 11 June 2017
Starring one of Australia’s leading cabaret and theatre performers – Naomi Price (The Voice Australia) – who wowed audiences as Adele in Rumour Has It last festival. This fantastical tale, grown out of real stories, is about a woman who inspired The Beatles’ biggest hits, including Eleanor Rigby, Penny Lane and Yesterday. Get back to this magical mystery tour through their immortal catalogue, re-imagined and reinterpreted with scintillating original arrangements performed by this world-class vocalist and a band of Australia’s top musicians.
Ryan Gonzalez: iHispanic Attack!
Artspace: 14 & 15 June 2017
As a singer, dancer, telenovela star, three-time Eurovision Song Contestant and seven-time Latin Grammy nominee, Ryan Gonzalez’s idol life is a blur of ladies, parties and pomade. After the sudden cancellation of his arena tour, the superstar has consented to bring his legendary Hispanic passion to Cabaret Festival. This extra-special, up-close-and-personal show features music from Latin legends including Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez and even Ryan’s former Menudo bandmate (and now sworn enemy) Ricky Martin.
Artspace: 22 – 24 June 2017
Their last outing earned a Green Room nomination at the 2015 Melbourne Cabaret Festival and some time in a padded cell. So, flouting all medical and legal sanctions, the Strange Bedfellows have fled the nuthouse for the asylum of centre stage. Underfunded, over-lubricated and outrageous, opera’s enfants terribles Kanen Breen and Jacqueline Dark present more lithium-laced musical shock therapy backed by Daryl Wallis on keyboard. You won’t believe what notes – and words – come out of their mouths. Miss this and you’re as crazy as they are.
Tapestry: The Songs of Carole King
Dunstan Playhouse: 23 – 24 June 2017
Carole King is revered as the most successful female songwriter in pop history. Her masterpiece, Tapestry, still stands as one of the world’s best-selling albums. Now, 46 years after its release, it’s been re-imagined as the centrepiece of this concert performed by two of Australia’s most loved and admired vocalists, Vika Bull and Debra Byrne. With its string of mega-hits, I Feel the Earth Move, You’ve Got A Friend, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and It’s Too Late, Tapestry was number 1 on the Billboard chart for 15 weeks and sold over 25-million copies worldwide.
The Very Worst of the Tiger Lillies
Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent: 15 – 17 June 2017
The Tiger Lillies present their fiercest, filthiest tunes for your perverse pleasure. Formed in London in 1989, the Olivier award-winners’ distinctive musical style melds the macabre magic of pre-war Berlin, anarchic opera and gypsy music with the razor edge of punk. Led by the accordion-wielding ‘criminal castrato’, Martyn Jacques, this Grammy nominated, three-piece will intoxicate you with a riotous cocktail of decadent cabaret and music-hall antics with a twist of bar brawl. They’re at their best when they’re at their worst.
The 2017 Adelaide Cabaret Festival continues to 24 June. For more information, visit: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Elise McCann – photo by Harvey House Productions