Melbourne Cabaret Festival announces 10th Anniversary program

MCF19 Broken Romantics - A Unicorn's Quest For LoveThe Melbourne Cabaret Festival celebrates its first decade with cabaret fun at Chapel Off Chapel from Wednesday 19 until Sunday 30 June 2019. Launching new shows and award-winning performers, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival offers some of the best cabaret in Australia.

Leading cabaret artists, Drew Downing and Sally Bourne are the 2019 Melbourne Cabaret Festival Ambassadors. “The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is the perfect place to trial original works and this year is no exception,” said Downing.

“I was privileged to be one of the headline acts at the inaugural Melbourne Cabaret Festival 10 years ago and since then have watched the festival grow and continue to present some of the best talent around,” added Bourne.

Highlights of the 2019 Melbourne Cabaret Festival include:

Crazy Arms, a few centuries of piano tinkering:
Damon Smith presents a preposterously zany musical adventure from the birth of the piano in 1709 through to the 20th century. With absurd, improvised humour, musical wizardry and incredible stories about the piano and its players, acclaimed writer & pianist, Damon Smith (Sun Rising) will perform virtuosic piano tinkering in homage to some of the great musicians that have ‘tickled the ivories’ throughout the ages. Featuring music and stories from Liberace, Jerry Lee Lewis, Winifred Atwell, Scott Joplin, Dr John, Mozart, Beethoven, Harry Connick Jr, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Elton John and so many more.

Creatures of the Deep:
Winner Best Cabaret Melbourne Fringe, Creatures of the Deep is a documentary style cabaret set under the sea. With the help of our Jacques Cousteau-esque narrator you will be taken on a journey beneath the surface to meet a plethora of beautiful, wild sea creatures who are given a voice to share their unique perspective beneath the waves.

Broken Romantics: A Unicorn’s Quest for Love:
Emma Dean has drawn many songs together to make a magical ‘mixed tape’ of broken romantic memories, with each song a unique story told through the bizarre and enchanting lens of this self-confessed “F*%king Unicorn”. A smash hit at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Emma and her Broken Romantics band – with physical theatre performer Jamie Kendall – will delight you with a glittering explosion of music and mischief. Featuring original music, captivating storytelling and well-known songs by Sia, Foo Fighters and more.

Drew Downing’s Ultimate 90s Playlist:
Prepare for a night of 90s bangers and nostalgia with cabaret rockstar Drew Downing and his infamous stage band. During high school, it was all about Saturday morning Video Hits and the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack for Drew. Twenty years later, it still is. Performing songs by Macy Gray, Backstreet Boys, Spin Doctors, Spin Doctors, Joshua Kadison, Hanson, Deep Blue Something, Shania Twain and more.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?:
Born in a small town in the middle of nowhere and by golly – it has taken a lot to get her here: to 2019, to the big city. There have been ups – and an occasional down – so let her take you on a ride as she waxes poetic about growing up a queen amongst those who did not see her glory. Love (letters), sex, race, gender, (popular) song, and dance all collide in this poetic spectacle. When thinking about drag everyone expects a Judy Garland but no one expects a Serena Williams – and that’s where Nefertiti fills the gap.

Sun Songs:
Sam Phillips formed Sun Records in 1950 in Memphis where he discovered and recorded the likes of BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Roscoe Gordon, Little Walter & Ike Turner. At the time there were no labels that would record and promote black music to the general American public. Sam did so with great enthusiasm and he soon realised that if he could find a white boy that could sing the blues it would open doors for Sun Records and make him rich. Enter Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, taking the black man’s blues to white kids. Performed by an all-star Melbourne blues band.

Fem ‘n ‘n Organ:
Award winning, international jazz chanteuse, Fem Belling, brings to life the rare and racy songs of the early decades. With the churning whirr of Jake Mason (Cooking On 3 Burners) at the organ and Fem’s breathtaking vocal prowess, this show opens a door to a truth of music deeply rooted in human history often neglected on the jukebox. Fem will fire up songs that weren’t afraid of speaking out about the birds and the bees during a time where dudes could be prudes but women couldn’t spit their venom.

Any Moment:
Set over the course of 24 hours, the work begins at Midnight on New Years Eve, and moves throughout a single town, hearing stories from various individuals, as the clock tumbles toward Midnight and a New Year. Featuring an all-star cast including John O’Hara (School of Rock, #VAL) and Helpmann winner Kerrie-Anne Greenland (Les Miserables, Pictures) and the writer himself, Bradley McCaw (Becoming Bill).

“We have always had a love of cabaret, and when we first launched the MCF ten years ago, we had no idea that it would be such a success,” said Executive Producers David Read and Neville Sice. “It has been a privilege to launch so many new shows that have gone onto national success. We have nurtured performers, both emerging and established – we believe in home-grown artists and will always champion their talent.”

The 10th Melbourne Cabaret Festival runs Wednesday 19 June to Sunday 30 June 2019 at Chapel Off Chapel. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Emma Dean stars in Broken Romantics: A Unicorn’s Quest for Love – photo by Kate Davies