What’s HOT at the 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival

MCF dash and dbreeNow in its 7th year, the 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival kicks off tonight with over 40 shows from around the country and overseas in the newly centralised festival hub in Prahran, while the Cabaret Fringe takes over The Butterfly Club in the City. Arts Review takes a look at twelve shows worth checking out!

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
Chapel Off Chapel: Wednesday 15 June – 7.00pm / 9.30pm
The smash hit of the 2016 MELT Queer Arts Festival comes to Melbourne Cabaret Festival. Featuring eight of Brisbane’s finest vocalists with a mighty 10-piece supergroup behind them, they come together again to perform David Bowie’s masterpiece album in its entirety along with an entire second act of other Bowie material from this, and other, eras of his astounding 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.

Ash Flanders: Playing to Win
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

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin
The Butterfly Club: 15 – 19 June

Equal parts historical and hysterical, all heaving harmonies and tipsy candour, explore the history of gin through story and song. Stumble and soar through tales of love and women, gin and secrets, as we wind our way through 18th Century London, a few New York speakeasies, the Australian bush and the jungles of Peru, via sailors and barmaids, bootleggers and master distillers.

Yana Alana: Covered
Chapel Off Chapel: 16 – 19 June
Yana Alana is infamous for her nude, rude and lewd cabaret appearances. In a risqué act of defiance this camp, bouffant, drag diva will appear on stage with her all-female band – fully clothed! A very special performance for those of us yearning for Yana to bear her soul but not her arse. Joined by The 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.

Ilana Charnelle: A Class Act
The Butterfly Club: 18 & 19 June
After channelling Judy Garland and David Bowie for ACMI, and amassing over 200,000 views on YouTube, Ilana Charnelle premieres her debut solo cabaret. Scored by a suite of enchanting original songs, and musical director savant dandy Ned Dixon, A Class Act is a heartbreaking, honest and ultimately empowering hour of cabaret. It’s time for vintage glamour and old fashioned romance from the golden age of entertainment.

Sing On Through Tomorrow – the songs of Matthew Lee Robinson
Chapel off Chapel: 21 – 24 June
Spend an intimate evening with the Melbourne premiere of Sing On Through Tomorrow – an unmissable musical revue featuring Matthew Lee Robinson’s most acclaimed compositions. From the critically lauded Metro Street through to his new musical Happy People, Sing On Through Tomorrow is an honest and intelligent coming of age story about love, disaster and everyday life.

Ljubicica – Wild Violet
The Butterfly Club: 21 – 25 June
Winner of the Best Music Award at the 2015 Sydney Fringe, Ljubicica – Wild Violet tells the story of a Croatian girl growing up in a remote rustic village and her journey to Australia. Her bloodlines, memories and identity are woven into the haunting and jubilant gypsy music of her past. The beauty and resilience of the wild violet becomes the enduring symbol of her family’s journey.

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.

Dash and D’Bree: Fierce
The Space: 23 – 25 June
First there was fashion retail, then the Clap Rap, a catchy original song that landed two best friends / wannabe rappers onto Australia’s Got Talent and in front of millions and now, with a seriously hot web series stashed in their clutch purse, Dash and D’Bree return to the stage ready for a fierce re-invention.

Fox Poncing
Chapel Off Chapel: 23 – 25 June
Fox Poncing is a new hour of original cabaret and world premiere from professional show-off, band-leader, Bowie-mourner and award-winning rock cabaret songwriter, Geraldine Quinn.

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.

“In Melbourne we are spoilt by an embarrassment of cultural and artistic riches,” say Artistic Director Mike McLeish. “And this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival is overflowing with glorious goodness.”

The 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival continues to 26 June. For more information, and complete program, visit: www.melbournecabaret.com for details.

Image: Dash and D’Bree – photo by Shelley Horan