Melbourne Cabaret Festival announces 2016 program

MCF16 Anya Anastasia photo by Gee GreensladeGrowing from humble beginnings into one of Melbourne’s major winter arts events, Mike McLeish in his first year as Artistic Director has announced a massive line-up for the 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

Selecting over 40 shows featuring over 100 performers from around the country and overseas, the 2016 festival will take place in a newly centralised festival hub in Prahran incorporating Chapel Off Chapel, The Space Arts and Dance Centre and Love Machine nightclub.

Artistic Director Mike McLeish says that in Melbourne we are spoilt by an embarrassment of cultural and artistic riches. And this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival is overflowing with glorious goodness.

“I’m pretty damn proud of what we’ve put together,” says McLeish. “From legendary locals and exciting up and comers to numerous treats from all around our great southern land along with a sprinkling of stellar international artists, this winter is shaping up to be smokin’ hot.”

“With a newly established festival hub in and around Chapel Off Chapel, our inaugural children’s program, as well as our first ever festival fringe program at The Butterfly Club, you better start filling your diaries or syncing your calendars or however it is you like to get yourselves organised, because this is going to be fun.”

Highlights of the 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival include:

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust
Chapel Off Chapel: 15 June
The smash hit of the 2016 MELT Queer Arts Festival and featuring eight of Brisbane’s finest vocalists with a mighty 10-piece supergroup behind them. This spellbinding, cathartic and epic performance cabaret work celebrates not only the phenomenon of Ziggy but also Bowie’s astounding musical legacy and career on Earth as an artist and musician.

Songs On Film – Joe Stilgoe (UK)
Chapel Off Chapel: 15 & 16 June
Paying tribute to some of the most memorable moments in cinematic history; from Hollywood’s golden age, to the classic films of the 80s, to the work of Tarantino, Paramount and Pixar, Joe Stilgoe and his remarkable band perform his own original and stylish orchestrations for some of the greatest films of the last century.

Playing To Win – Ash Flanders
Chapel Off Chapel: 15 – 19 June
Taking aim at himself and those much more traditionally ‘talented’, Ash Flanders invites you to question what makes a winner in this blood sport called life. “Equal parts Dolly Parton, Liberace and John Waters, Flanders again proves himself an obscenely funny and enviably talented performer” – The Age

Yana Alana Covered
Chapel Off Chapel: 16 – 19 June
A cabaret spectacular for those yearning to experience this multi-award winning artist as she bears her soul and not her arse. Joined by Tha Paranas featuring Bec Matthews, Louise Goh and Tamara Murphy with songs made famous by Nina Simone, Tom Waits, Shirley Bassey, Laurie Anderson and Joy Division.

Bang On The Strillers Live – Geraldine Quinn
Chapel Off Chapel: 21 June
Quinn began ‘Bang On The Strillers’ in late 2015 as a behind-the-scenes cabaret podcast chat with some of the best performers in the intertwined cabaret, drag and burlesque genres. Imagine Dinah Shore duetting with Carol Burnett while Patti Smith stage-invades. Featuring guests from across the festival, join Quinn and company for this special cabaret podcast event.

Otto & Astrid: Best Band in the World
Chapel Off Chapel: 22 – 25 June

Die Roten Punkte are Berlin’s Prince and Princess of art-rock and Europop. They are a lipstick-smeared, tantrum-loving, sonic collision between The B52s, Kraftwerk and early Ramones. Their songs are ridiculously infectious and their show is one of the most irreverent and hilarious gigs you’re ever likely to see.

Rogue Romantic – Anya Anastasia
Chapel Off Chapel: 23 – 25 June
Peer behind the tents of the Carnival; see the creator arguing with the creation in the wings. Beware the oft-miscalculated serenades that may occur right on your seat. With a twisted and incorrigible sense of humour, Anya is at odds with the opinions of her stage persona but together they un-pick the intricacies of our desires and contradictions.

The Opening Gala on Tuesday 14 June) will be hosted by Artistic Director, Mike McLeish with a hot cabaret line-up to match. The Closing Night Party will be Australia’s biggest piano bar party. One ticket gives open access to all the closing night party fun where you can freely wander into different shows within Chapel Off Chapel.

“The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is one of the most innovative and pleasurable evenings,” says City of Stonnington Mayor Cr Claude Ullin. “It is fascinating to see so many talented people performing their own scripts and providing welcome entertainment across a broad area. The City of Stonnington is privileged to be part of the Cabaret Festival and looks forward to participating in this year’s event.”

The 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival takes place from Tuesday 14 until Sunday 26 June. Tickets are now on sale. For more information and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: Anya Anastasia – photo by Gee Greenslade