Alan Cumming’s 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival Program Revealed

Adelaide-Cabaret-Festival-Alan-Cumming-photo-Francis-HillsSouth Australia’s most loved winter event, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, is back this June and is turning the spotlight on Australia’s best, brightest, and boldest performers, with the full line-up announced on sale today.

Tony Award winning Hollywood actor and cabaret king, Alan Cumming – the festival’s first international Artistic Director in its 21-year history – presents the 2021 program as his personal “love letter” to Australia.

The festival returns to Adelaide Festival Centre following last year’s online offering, and stars more than 180 artists in 105 performances over 12 glittering days and nights. Showcasing classic and contemporary cabaret with a touch of nostalgia, the 21st program features 10 world premieres, 4 Australian premieres and 10 Adelaide exclusives by a large contingent of Australian artists and performers from the USA, and Canada.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director Alan Cumming says this year’s program has “something for everyone… And joy, lots of joy: Dear Adelaide and Australia – I am so excited to finally share this festival line-up with you all. As ever I have gone with my gut – a quality I think we Scots and Australians share,” he said.

“This festival is a temple to my love and nostalgia for Australia – the people, the spirit, the adventure, the fusion of high and low that I have learned and stolen from and hold dear in my heart. I hope you Australians enjoy this Scot’s cabaret love letter to you,” said Mr Cumming.

Due to popular demand, Alan Cumming will perform a second show of his world premiere, Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age at Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre on Saturday 26 June, with tickets on sale today.

Festival favourite Eddie Perfect returns with the Adelaide Premiere of his latest show Eddie Perfect – Introspective. A former Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director, Eddie shares an intimate, honest, and reflective account of his recent work, including two years in New York writing Broadway musicals Beetlejuice and King Kong.

In a special concert, Australia’s next generation of First Nations artists will perform in Deadly Hearts – celebrating Australian Indigenous music. The incredible line-up includes multi award winning musician and artist, Dan Sultan; 2019 National Indigenous Music Awards nominee, Tia Gostelow; 2020 Music Vic award winner for Best Emerging Artist, Kee’ahn; and 2019 Triple J Unearthed High Indigenous Initiative winner, Aodhan.

Headliner show, Songs of Don, will rock Festival Theatre in the middle weekend of the festival. The performance will celebrate the work of legendary Australian songwriter Don Walker – best known as the main songwriter for Cold Chisel. Powerhouse vocalists Katie Noonan, Clare Bowditch, Emma Donovan and Sarah Mcleod will belt out reimagined versions of iconic songs including Khe Sanh, Saturday Night, Cheap Wine and Standing on the Outside.

Continuing the celebration of strong Australian female voices, Tania Doko, Emma Pask and Prinnie Stevens will pay tribute to some of history’s greatest female artists in Hear Me Roar – Unplugged, an Adelaide exclusive on the last weekend.

After a sell-out show in 2019, RocKwiz returns to the Festival Theatre, this time saluting Eurovision, with host and former festival Artistic Director Julia Zemiro alongside Brian Nankervis and special guests including Alan Cumming himself.

In a nod to nostalgia, Young Talent Time 50th Anniversary Reunion Special will make its world premiere at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in the Festival Theatre on Saturday 19 June with Johnny Young himself hosting the show.

2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of the first ever performances of the hit Aussie TV show that made household names out of dozens of young artists. Alumni including Beven Addinsall, Karen Knowles, Jane Scali, Philip Gould, Steven Zammit, Joey Dee and Greg Poynton will grace the stage and relive the magic of YTT for one night only.

South Australian performers with their own shows include 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival Icon Award winner Robyn Archer in Mother Archer’s Cabaret for Dark Times, which dares to stare down misery and catastrophe in a stirring, funny and moving performance. And Adelaide’s own Max Savage reflects on the country’s most famous literary hoax in ERN: Australia’s Greatest Hoax – this year’s Frank Ford Commissioning Award.

The award by Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s late founding father, the Frank Ford Commissioning Award provides $20,000 a year towards the creation of new works by South Australian artists and will continue to help mentor and nurture emerging cabaret talent.

Following sold out shows at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2019, New York’s Amber Martin returns in Bathhouse Bette – an uplifting celebration of the earliest bathhouse performances by iconic singer, actor, and comedian Bette Midler.

Meanwhile AFI Award winner Bojana Novakovic performs throughout the festival with an ever-changing cast of surprise guests in the improvisational experiment The Blind Date Project and Helpmann Award nominee Kim David Smith conjures the doom and decadence of 1920s Berlin with his intimate show about Marlene Dietrich in Mostly Marlene.

In shows already announced and proving to be a hot ticket – new seats have been released today for the following:

Bringing a touch of New York to Adelaide and in an Australian first, audiences can experience Alan Cumming’s famous bar Club Cumming each weekend of the festival, as it takes its place as the late-night hub in The Famous Spiegeltent. New York’s iconic venue will overflow with hedonistic delights, live performances, and raucous Cumming DJ sets until late.

Audiences will get to peek behind closed doors at a luxurious French hotel in L’Hôtel – an immersive show with a crème de la crème of performers from the world of cabaret, burlesque and circus, including French chanteuse Caroline Nin. A transformed Space Theatre will see guests savour the champagne and graze on a French cheese board while getting up close to the cast of characters who call L’Hôtel home.

The always popular red carpet opening night event, The Variety Gala hosted by Adelaide’s own Hans will see cabaret stars including Meow Meow, Paul Capsis, Steph Tisdell, Mama Alto and Trevor Ashley light up the stage.

Internationally renowned, award-winning musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer, Tim Minchin returns to the festival, this time bringing his show BACK to the Festival Theatre for two shows only and as the first stop of his national tour.

“This year we are honoured to welcome Alan Cumming as Artistic Director,” said Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM. “Alan has brought the full force of his creative expertise and know-how to this beloved festival with a stellar program.”

“As a result, Adelaide Cabaret Festival is proud to contribute to Adelaide’s position as Australia’s premier festival city and to South Australia’s reputation for leadership in the performing arts.”

The inspiring Class of Cabaret program returns to shine a light on the cabaret stars of tomorrow, proudly supported by Adelaide Festival Centre Foundation through the Nathaniel O’Brien Scholarship which allows one student from regional South Australia to participate in the program.

Free events include the LGBTIQ+ Elders Dance Club by All the Queens Men, held on the Queen’s Birthday holiday, the fabulous afternoon tea dance party for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse and intersex elders and all allies will be held at The Famous Spiegeltent.

Festival favourite Trevor Jones – The Piano Man is back at the Festival Theatre foyer Quartet Bar nightly and the cabaret lounge will become a chillout hub where audiences can enjoy free roving performances along with a knit and natter (BYO winter knitting project or watch and learn from some of SA’s finest knitters).

The 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival opens on Friday 11 June and runs until Saturday 26 June. Tickets are now on sale. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director Alan Cumming – photo by Francis Hills