The Variety Gala was just a small snippet of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival which is taking place over sixteen days and nights, but boy was it big. Featuring local, national and international talent, the 2016 lineup is as impressive as its two new Artistic Directors, Eddie Perfect and Ali McGregor. Not ones to take it easy for their inaugural year, the pair have managed to squeeze in over 425 artists in 150 performances.
As the red carpet was rolled out and the stars of the festival began to arrive, cabaret enthusiasts explored the Winter Garden where you can enjoy food and wine from various stalls throughout the festival.
To begin the Variety Gala, Co-Artistic Director Eddie Perfect greeted the crowd, welcoming them to his festival. He was quickly interrupted by the other Co-Artistic Director Ali McGregor who appeared from inside a gold Egyptian tomb to remind the crowd this was actually her festival. As the pair continued hurling insults at each other, they explained, (in song obsiously as this is cabaret), how they worked together to create the 2016 program. As their song What You Get stated, “we got the job done”.
The first act was none other than much loved comedian Frank Woodley who played an acoustic guitar and sang a sad song about a boy with an abnormally large head, because cabaret!
Then, Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood of Mother’s Ruin treated the audience to a sneak preview of their show: A Cabaret About Gin, blessing the audience with a gin lovers version of the Lord’s Prayer. Sinful, silly and sassy, these two ladies were a hoot.
Next to storm the stage was Rhonda Burchmore in a very convincing disguise as Adelaide born music icon Sia. Performing a stunning rendition of Sia’s hit Chandelier, she was joined on stage by Trevor Ashley who left little to the imagination in a nude leotard and blonde wig as he leaped and twirled around the stage.
There has been a lot of hype around Miss Behave’s Game Show and for a good reason, as even from just a five minute taster we were hooked. With the assistance of her leather short clad male assistant ‘Harriet,’ Miss B delighted the audience with a fun, interactive show which ended with Harriet giving a gentleman in the front row a lap dance to Beyonce’s Drunk In Love. Use your imagination to visualise this.
Representing the international talent, Otto and Astrid from Die Roten Punkte encouraged the crowd to simply, ‘Drink, drink, drink while you can. Leave all your troubles behind’. The German siblings constant squabbling during the song and the surprisingly catchy tune left me wanting more.
The act which made us snort with laughter several times was Andrew Strano with a snippet from his show Nailed It!, which is making its Australian premiere at this year’s festival. With an introduction explaining how he is a romantic at heart, Andrew then began to sing a song about being in love with a girl. His twin sister to be precise. This hilarious tune about ‘twin-cest’was the most memorable performance of the night and was oh-so-wrong on many levels.
Next to the stage were the guys from Tripod, all grown up. Not really though. Speaking about their addiction to cabaret, they treated the audience to a catchy tune about the virtual world of video games.
Robyn Archer took to the stage to perform a number from her show Dancing on the Volcano and was then presented with the 2016 Icon Award by Artistic Directors Eddie and Ali. With previous winners including Rhonda Burchmore and Frank Ford, the Icon Award celebrates the artists who work tirelessly to champion the art form.
Bobby Fox, known from his standout role in the musical Jersey Boys took to the stage next to perform ‘Stay’. Described as Australia’s original Franki Valli, Bobby Fox is a man of many talents and has an exceptional voice.
Amy G was no chicken when it came to her performance, except she actually was one. Performing a very sparkly burlesque chicken dance, along with a few bars from MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This, Amy G had us in stitches with her slapstick song and dance number.
Miss Behave and Harriet were back before the finale to treat the audience to a colourful streamer and balloon shower which rained down over the audience. I counted sixteen balloons wedged between myself and my neighbours when the lights came on.
To close this year’s Variety Gala, Artistic Directors Eddie and Ali, along with the 2016 Class of Cabaret performed the uplifting tune Old Friends, from the Broadway musical Merrily We Roll Along.
The impressive lineup from the Variety Gala was only a taste of the incredible program which will unfold over the next sixteen days. To
plagiarise borrow a line, “life is a cabaret ol’ chum, so come to the cabaret”.
To view the full program and buy tickets, head to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s website.
The 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from 10-25 June.
You can win tickets to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival here!