The 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival kicks off tonight as the legendary Barry Humphries makes his debut as Artistic Director for this year’s Festival, promising to capture your heart and soul along with plenty of “beauty, wit and astonishment” in an outstanding program of music, story-telling, comedy and incredible talent.
Featuring more than 350 artists in 152 performances, Arts Review takes a look at twelve shows worth checking out!
Dunstan Playhouse: 17 – 19 June
When Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the infamous crossroads, he was fated to become the founding member of the 27 Club. Its members include Hendrix, Morrison, Cobain, Winehouse and Joplin, musicians who all famously died aged 27. They were each the voice of their generation. Hosted by charming devil Henry Wagons and featuring rock goddess Hayley Mary (The Jezabels), Adelaide vocal powerhouse Carla Lippis and guitar virtuoso Daniel Champagne. Celebrate the musicians who will forever be 27 and the music they left behind.
Anne Wills in conversation with Peter Goers
Piano Bar: 8 & 14 June
Originally conceived for Adelaide’s Feast Festival, South Australia icon, TV legend, Logie Award hoarder and earing aficionado Anne Wills will dish the dirt on the joy, the pain and the glamour of her colourful life in the spotlight in this special “in conversation” event with 891 ABC Adelaide presenter and Sunday Mail columnist, Peter Goers.
Christie Whelan Browne – Pure Blonde
Artspace Gallery: 11 – 13 June
Five years ago Christie Whelan Browne premiered her first one-woman show Britney Spears: The Cabaret at Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The same talented team of Helpmann-Award winning director Dean Bryant (Sweet Charity) and musical maestro Mathew Frank (Drowsy Chaperone) are back to explore the widely underappreciated blonde song book. In the tradition of Saturday Night Live meets Alan Bennett, Christie brings to life a cavalcade of blondes in a hilarious cabaret comedy.
Daniel Koek – Bringing Him Home with his West End Story
Festival Theatre Stage: 13 – 14 June
The musical theatre stars have aligned for Adelaide’s own West End sensation Daniel Koek. Fresh from playing Jean Valjean in the West End production of Les Misérables, Daniel presents personal songs and stories from a decade on the musical theatre world stage, performing highlights from his leading roles including West Side Story, Chess, South Pacific and his second studio album HiGH.
John O’Hara – Dedications
Artspace Gallery: 6 – 8 June
Inspired by Richard Mercer’s long-running late-night radio program Love Song Dedications, John O’Hara (Cats, Wicked, Rock of Ages) inhabits multiple characters who call in to share their stories with the Love God. We experience both the heartache and the triumphs as they request classic love songs from artists including Whitney Houston, Aerosmith, Lionel Ritchie, Michael Bolton, Leonard Cohen and more.
Lady Rizo – Unescorted
Space Theatre: 17 – 19 June
New York City’s multi award-winning cabaret superstar Lady Rizo lands again with luscious vocals, irrefutable glamour and piercing wit. Backed by a killer group of musicians, Rizo performs unique arrangements of pop songs, mashes them up into sumptuous, theatrical ballads laced with edgy comedy and her own stirring original anthems. Her songbook travels from Judy Garland to the Pixies. Rizo’s signature mix of elegance, brazen banter and animal instinct will tantalise, tease and knock you over.
Meow Meow – His Master’s Choice
Dunstan Playhouse: 6 – 7 June
She’s the ultimate Weimar doyenne having performed the repertoire globally, including with the London Philharmonic and at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, with Pina Bausch Tanztheater in Germany and Russia, and with Barry Humphries and the Australian Chamber Orchestra around Australia. At the request of Mr Humphries, the Queen of Kamikaze Kabarett returns with an intimate performance featuring songs from the sirens, transgressors and tragi-grotesques of Weimar Germany.
Michael Griffiths – Cole
Banquet Room: 7 – 8 June
He’s inhabited the songs of Madonna and Annie Lennox to great acclaim, now local cabaret and musical theatre sensation Michael Griffiths takes on Cole Porter. Griffiths and long-time Adelaide friend, writer and pianist Anna Goldsworthy join forces to explore Porter’s colourful life and timeless songs. The result is a heady blend of hedonism, grave misfortune, enduring love and a legacy that sparkles with wit and wisdom.
Painted From Memory
Dunstan Playhouse: 12 – 13 June
In the 1990s, Burt Bacharach, teamed up with Elvis Costello to create the remarkable song God Give Me Strength. They continued writing together to earn a Grammy Award for, I Still Have That Other Girl from the 1998 album, Painted From Memory. These and other timeless Bacharach and Costello tunes are faithfully explored and reimagined through the effortlessly beautiful voices of recording, stage and screen stars, Michael Falzon and Luke Kennedy, along with an incredible 9-piece band.
Her Majesty’s Theatre: 11 – 14 June
Following the smash hit Songs for Nobodies, the collaborative powers of Joanna Murray-Smith, Bernadette Robinson and Simon Phillips reunite to present a brilliant musical theatre treat. Based on true stories and encapsulating 40 years of famous performances, Pennsylvania Avenue portrays the life, politics and social change through the eyes of Harper (Bernadette Robinson), the event coordinator at the White House during the heady days of the JFK Presidency and beyond.
Reviewing the Situation
Artspace Gallery: 18 – 20 June
Lionel Bart was once Britain’s most celebrated composer, responsible for the iconic musical Oliver! He partied with Noel Coward, Rudolf Nureyev and The Beatles. Now he’s bankrupt and ensconced in a flat above a laundromat. At his piano and fuelled by more than a few vodkas, Lionel sings us songs including Living Doll, From Russia With Love and You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two and shares stories from his incredible life. Featuring Phil Scott as Lionel Bart.
Strange Bedfellows – Under the Covers
Artspace Gallery: 5 – 7 June
Climb into bed with Jacqui Dark and Kanen Breen as they take a midnight journey through the mean streets of Weimar Berlin, where raunch-laden remixes of your favourites collide with the insidious underworld of their own original material, exploding the boundaries of good taste with a hydrogen C-bomb.
The 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival continues until 20 June 2015. For more information, visit: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Bernadette Robinson in Pennsylvania Avenue – photo by Jeff Busby