What’s HOT at the 2016 Midsumma Festival

ACM Trevor Ashley in LIZA's BACK! (is broken)Now in it’s 29th year, the Midsumma Festival is Melbourne’s largest celebration of queer culture. With over 140 events held over a 3 week period – 2016 is ramping up to be one of the biggest yet! Arts Review takes a look at ten events worth checking out:

Beyond Priscilla: The Play
Gasworks Arts Park: 20 – 30 January 2016
In 2010, Daniel Witthaus spent 266 days driving around Australia on a journey to challenge and confront homophobia ‘one cuppa at a time’. He met members, allies and opposers of the LGBT community, each with a story to tell. The tour was largely self-funded, at times lonely, and always emotional. So why would one man take on such an experience? It’s time to answer this question. Beyond Priscilla: The Play sees Daniel’s much acclaimed book take to the stage, bringing to life the stories of rural and regional Australians within and around the LGBTI community.

Carlotta: Queen of the Cross
fortyfivedownstairs: 20 – 23 January 2016
Show girl royalty and Australian icon Carlotta takes us on a whirlwind journey through her amazing life on the stage. This legend of the feather fan will dazzle you with her talent and astonish you with her wit. Accompanied by Michael Griffiths on piano and a host of decadent gowns, celebrate 2016 Midsumma Champion – Carlotta.

Cartooning with Pride
DT’s Hotel: 30 January 2016
Now in its 2nd year, come for some geeky fun at DTs Pub as the Cartooning with Pride Crew talk about how to promote and find new LGBTIQ comic and cartoon art, with plenty of giveaways and prizes! Speakers include Allain de Leon, Rat Simpson, Marc Huntington, Marco Ryan, Tom Saras and Jimmy Twin!

Gasworks Arts Park: 19 January – 6 February 2016
Based on interviews with gay refugees and inspired by the work of award-winning photojournalist Bradley Secker, this Australian premiere journeys through a no-man’s land of empty train stations, treacherous border crossings and bomb-blasted towns. Directed by John Kachoyan and featuring a powerhouse performance by Nick Simpson-Deeks, Elegy fuses intimate storytelling and visual poetry to lure you into a playful, theatrical and devastating world.

Liza’s Back! (is broken)
Arts Centre Melbourne: 20 – 31 January 2016
There is no doubt about it. Liza Minnelli is a true Broadway legend. However, her appearances on the musical stage have been few and far between, and she’s only ever sung in a couple of true movie musicals… So what would happen if Liza decided to perform all the great Broadway roles she never got to play, in one special night? Much-loved diva, and three-time Helpmann nominee Trevor Ashley, Liza’s Back! (is broken) explores the parts that Minnelli should have done over the last forty years – those great leading lady roles from Mame to Grizabella to Norma Desmond and all others in between. Ever wanted to see Liza tackle Wicked? Then this is the show for you!

Meridian – The Midsumma Visual Art Exhibition 
fortyfivedownstairs: 19 – 30 January 2016
A curated element of the Midsumma programme, Meridian seeks to exhibit a valid cross-sectional voice of the queer and allied community through the open submission process and a diverse panel of curators involved in the selection process. Featured artists include: Kim Leutwyler, John Brooks, Matthew Burgess, Hans Van Hans, Casey Jenkins and Tricia Page.

Michael Griffiths: Cole
fortyfivedownstairs: 20 – 24 January 2016
Award winning cabaret performer Michael Griffiths explores the colourful life and timeless songs of Cole Porter including: You’re The Top,It’s De-Lovely, Let’s Do It and Night And Day. Hedonism, grave misfortune, enduring love and a legacy that sparkles with wit and wisdom. Written by Anna Goldsworthy, Cole premiered at the 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival by invitation of Sir Barry Humphries.

Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story
Chapel Off Chapel: 20 – 31 January 2016
A chamber musical based on the exploits of the notorious ‘thrill killer’ duo of 1920s Chicago. The crimes of these wealthy young law students and lovers were also the basis for Hitchcock’s Rope and Todd Haynes’ Swoon. With book, music and lyrics by Stephen Dolginoff, and directed by Terence O’Connell, Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story features Vincent Hooper and Stephen Madsen.

Gasworks Arts Park: 27 – 30 January 2016
Follow the journey of one man over three nights as his greatest dreams, fears and desires are brought to reality by the denizens of this unique establishment. These characters will leave a mark on this man and will set his journey on a path he never thought he’d have the courage to walk. Uncovered is an exploration and celebration of coming out and sexuality in its many forms that doesn’t take itself too seriously and definitely isn’t afraid to get a little steamy. Set to a soundtrack of unusual cover versions of your favourite songs, this exhilarating new circus show uncovers memories of first time encounters and sensual moments, while thrilling with first class contemporary circus.

Word is Out 2016
Hares & Hyenas: 18 January – 7 February 2016
Writers, performers, comedians and speakers come together for in a one-stop diorama of twisted cabaret, off-beat comedy, spicy spoken word, dynamic discussion, launches, exhibition, bent books and potent performance. Tim McKew, Kaye Sera, Lisa-Skye, Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, Sabina Knox, Queenie Bon Bon, Jules Wilkinson, Jax Jacki Brown, Quinn Eades, Kath Duncan, C.S. Pacat and Clementine Ford are just some of the out-of-the-box creatives we have in store for you. Rapid Fire and Quippings return, along with discussion and social events by the Australian LGBTIQ Multicultural Council, Rainbow Families Council, Queer Greens Victoria, and the launch of Quartz Queer Arts Zine.

The 2016 Midsumma Festival runs: 17 January – 7 February. For more information, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.

Image: Trevor Ashley stars in Liza’s Back! (is broken)