2024 Adelaide Cabaret Festival program revealed

Adelaide-Cabaret-Festival-2024-Artistic-Director-Virginia-Gay-photo-by-Claudio-RaschellaAdelaide Cabaret Festival – the biggest cabaret festival in the world and Australia’s favourite winter festival – is inviting audiences to soak it in, with a mischievous, contemporary, and star-studded line-up that has been announced today.

Unveiling her debut program as Artistic Director, award-winning Australian actor, writer, and personality Virginia Gay presents the 24th Adelaide Cabaret Festival, showcasing world-class singers and storytellers throughout 79 performances over 12 nights, including 17 world premieres and 23 Adelaide premieres by international artists from the USA, United Kingdom and New Zealand, plus Australia’s best contemporary cabaret acts.

Audiences are invited to delight in the pleasures of cabaret and community at Adelaide Festival Centre from Friday 7 June, kicking off with The 2024 Variety Gala red-carpet opening night at Festival Theatre, featuring a surprise smorgasbord of brand-new acts, comedic artists, and cabaret favourites, hosted by Virginia Gay.

Patti LuPone photo by Douglas FriedmanHeadline acts for this year’s festival include:

Three-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone performing the Australian debut of her new concert, A Life In Notes, in the Festival Theatre on Wednesday 19 June. In an Adelaide exclusive, the incomparable Dame Lisa Simone will present Keeper of the Flame and perform iconic classics of her mother, Dr. Nina Simone, as only she can, for one night only at Festival Theatre on Saturday, June 22.

Not to be missed, a celebration of the decades-long legacy of the late luminary, Dame Olivia Newton-John, will be presented in a special concert at Festival Theatre in Hopelessly Devoted.

Former Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director David Campbell (who performed with Olivia Newton-John at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2011) along with Jess Hitchcock, Georgina Hopson and Christie Whelan Browne will sing iconic hits from Grease, Xanadu and Newton-John’s best-selling records, alongside Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

South Australia’s darling Annabel Crabb and her more-famous-but-from-Queensland colleague Leigh Sales will present a special cabaret edition of their popular podcast Chat 10 Looks 3 Live on the Festival Theatre stage, joined by the cream of the cabaret crop, during the second week of the festival.

Making her Adelaide Cabaret Festival debut, Australian singer-songwriter and musician Missy Higgins celebrates the 20th anniversary of her ARIA award winning album The Sound Of White, in a special two-part show at Festival Theatre on Friday 21 June.

Spearheading a new era of contemporary cabaret with many making their festival debuts (miss them and you’ll get serious FOMO). Multi-award-winning comedy duo, Mel & Sam will present the world premiere of their show The Best Of in a raucous, bratty and proudly queer performance.

MICF2024 Little Squirt Darby JamesStoryteller, songwriter and performer Darby James will ask audiences to come aboard as he sets sail into the unchartered waters of sperm donation, in the award-winning show, Little Squirt. Nominated for six Green Room Awards and winner of Best Cabaret and the Edinburgh Touring Award at Melbourne Fringe 2023, Little Squirt is on at Adelaide Festival Centre’s Quartet Bar by Corryton Burge from 14 – 15 June.

In an in-development showcase commissioned by the festival, writer and performer Cassie Hamilton will present part of her latest work, A Transgender Woman on the Internet, Crying, colourfully colliding love, identity, and the power of the trans community in a techno pop joy explosion.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival has proudly supported previous in-development works, including Gillian Cosgriff’s The Fig Tree last year as well as Eddie Perfect’s Shane Warne: The Musical and Yve Blake’s Fangirls, which have both gone on to great acclaim.

This year Gillian Cosgriff returns to the festival during the first weekend, with her heart-warming and hilarious show, Actually, Good – winner of Most Outstanding Show at the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

World class First Nations singer Jess Hitchcock is not to be missed when she presents A Fine Romance – Songs That Made Me. Merging her magnificent operatic voice with soaring pop moods in homage to the jazz, blues, opera and rock that have shaped her truly unique sound and genre-defying voice, for one night only at Space Theatre on Thursday 13  June.

In a never-before-seen (and never to be seen again) live theatre spectacular, Musical Bang Bang will see actor-comedians Jane Watt (Godspell) and Rob Johnson (Calamity Jane) lead an extremely brave and slightly chaotic ensemble including the illustrious Julia Zemiro and Tom Cardy. Collectively they will come up with a brand-new musical every night, entirely on the spot… no two shows are the same, with a rotating cast of special guest stars.

Australian performer Christie Whelan Browne’s brand-new bubblegum pop cabaret, Life in Plastic, will see her team up with contemporary award-winning comedian Lou Wall – who is known for their genre-bending, politically savvy comedy – in a sparkly celebration of sisterhood and an exploration into whether her ‘perfect’ plastic life is shiny or suffocating.

Kate Miller-Heidke photo by Jo DuckFurther festival highlights: Kate Miller-Heidke presents Catching Diamonds at Dunstan Playhouse for two nights only (8 – 9 June). From Coachella to Eurovision, audiences will see Kate sparkle alongside collaborator Keir Nuttall in a riveting showcase of original hits, musical numbers, unexpected covers, and debut material from her forthcoming sixth studio album.

Rock runs in her blood, blues roars from her lungs, get ready for Mahalia Barnes & The Soulmates to rip the lid off Adelaide Festival Centre’s Banquet Room in a funk soul frenzy, and they’re even taking spontaneous audience song requests!

Noongar and Gumbaynggirr woman, Emma Donovan (The Donovans, Black Arm Band, The Putbacks) will launch her new album, Til My Song is Done and command the stage in her supreme solo glory to sing stories of Country and community at Dunstan Playhouse on Thursday 20  June.

And direct from the UK and in an Australian Premiere and Adelaide exclusive, iconic trio Fascinating Aïda will present The 40th Anniversary Show with the diamond-sharp satire, lyrical wit and belligerent sass that they’ve proven only gets better with age. Three performances at Dunstan Playhouse from 7 – 9 June.

Other international acts include New Zealand’s A Slightly Isolated Dog presenting their raucous and absurd take on Jekyll & Hyde during the first festival weekend, and festival favourite Amber Martin, direct from the USA, will present the world premiere of her show Queen of the Silver Dollar – a sonic journey into the Deep South, performing classic country hits and sharing her personal stories in a one-woman show.

With their unique deadpan charm, the UK’s singing sisters Flo & Joan will make their festival debut with Now Playing at Space Theatre during the second week of the festival and have you crying with laughter at their electric delivery. And ‘the woman of a thousand voices,’ Christina Bianco will perform In Divine Company in an Australian Premiere – celebrating iconic musical heroines with her uncanny impressions, from Dion to Bassey.

“Cabaret is beguiling in its simplicity. It’s stories into song, right? Simple! But magic. So, we’ve tried to see how elastic that formula can be,” said Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director, Virginia Gay. “Adelaide Cabaret Festival is known by audiences and stars the world over. Little footprint, giant heart.”

“Performances pour off the stage and into the foyer afterwards, and there you are, in your glad rags, belting out songs, laughing, flirting, and drinking champagne. This festival is what I want the whole world to feel like – a celebration of community and abundance, togetherness through individuality, in all its sparkling joy.”

Reuben Kaye - photo by Claudio RaschellaThose wanting to party on can revel in the divine and delicious chaos of the Festival Late Nights, which will be hosted by a different artist each week, including piano-pounding New Yorker Mark Nadler, Adelaide’s own Victoria Falconer and cabaret favourite Reuben Kaye who will sing songs for the end of the world (and the festival!) on the last weekend. Join us afterwards in the foyer for the party to end all parties!

Classic cabaret fans will delight in the return of Australian musical theatre royalty, Rhonda Burchmore when she tells her Tall Tales and wicked and wonderful stories of the rich and famous, from Presidents to Hollywood stars. And Australia’s leading kings of swing, Swing on This, will celebrate a decade on the stage with a new show that’s suave, slick and oh-so-swoon-worthy.

This year’s Frank Ford Commission has been awarded to South Australian artist Michelle Pearson whose show Skinny is an empowering fusion of pop, power ballads and biting comedy that encourages us to face the mirror and embrace our bodies for all they are. The award by Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s late founding father, provides $20,000 a year towards the creation of new works by South Australian artists.

The inspiring Class of Cabaret program, introduced to the festival in 2009 by David and Lisa Campbell, will celebrate its 15th year, shining a light on the cabaret stars of tomorrow and proudly supported by Adelaide Festival Centre Foundation through the Nathaniel O’Brien Scholarship, which supports one student from regional South Australia to participate in the program.

“It is fantastic to celebrate the 24th Adelaide Cabaret Festival with a star-studded line up. Adelaide is home to the biggest cabaret festival in the world and this year’s program is filled with must-see performances by talented Australian and international artists,” said The Hon Andrea Michaels MP, South Australian Minister for Arts.

“Our wonderful cabaret festival is a gem in the international calendar and with stars such as Missy Higgins, homegrown South Australian talent like Annabel Crabb and a beautiful tribute to Dame Olivia Newton-John, it is not to be missed. I congratulate Virginia Gay and the Adelaide Festival Centre team on putting together an incredible festival,” said Minister Michaels.

“Adelaide Cabaret Festival is a jewel in Adelaide Festival Centre’s year-round festival program, and this year will shine even brighter with the brilliant Virginia Gay at the helm. We look forward to welcoming the best international and national cabaret acts, and audiences from across the country to the Riverbank precinct as it comes to life in June,” said Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM.

The 2024 Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from Friday 7 June to Saturday 22 June at the Adelaide Festival Centre. For more information and full program, visit: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au for details.

Images: Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2024 Artistic Director Virginia Gay – photo by Claudio Raschella | Patti LuPone – photo by Douglas Friedman | Darby James presents Little Squirt (supplied) | Kate Miller-Heidke – photo by Jo Duck | Reuben Kaye – photo by Claudio Raschella