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A taste of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Top 8 Picks

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AussieTheatre’s South Australian Co-ordinator Hayley Horton dishes her top 8 picks for the upcoming Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Have you booked your tickets? 

In June, Adelaide becomes a circuit of dingy, darkened rooms with red lamps and sultry songstresses. Audience are seen dashing between venues on a cold winter’s night, counting the minutes to their next hit of cabaret.  Some like blockbuster acts from the other side of the globe, others enjoy the grass-roots stylings of local talents… some even just like to be a part of the atmosphere and sit under a warm patio heater and discuss the hot act of the season over a chocolate-dipped churro and a glass of red.

We spend the dark days of winter, immersed in the warmth of cabaret and all the quirky, unique, up close and personal excitement it has to offer.

But with over 50 shows from all over Australia and the world… how do we go about choosing what to see?  Consider these top eight picks of the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival a tasting plate.  Something to tantalise the tastebuds and get you excited for the season in store. Enjoy!

Note to punters: some of these shows are already selling very well… visit www.bass.net.au to book your tickets before they sell out!

Katie Noonan, Love Song Circus. Image: supplied

8. Love Song Circus (World Premiere)

Internationally renowned, Brisbane-based company, Circa is joining forces with four-time Aria Award winning and six-time Platinum selling artist Katie Noonan (songstress of indie-pop band george) to create a performance based on the stories and letters of Australia’s first convict women.

Why’s it worth a trip out in the cold? After glowing reviews for its recent tour, Circa is a revelation in circus art.  Combine this with the oozing talent of Noonan and add in the fact that this is a new work specifically written for the Cabaret Festival that combines body and sound. It promises to be unique and intimate.

Ziggy. Image: supplied

7. Ziggy – The Songs of David Bowie

An ensemble of Australian live performers pay homage to Bowie, the pop phenomenon.

Why should I put down my glass of red for this? David Bowie and his “Ziggy” persona are an icon of baby boomer generation.  Think spandex, think androgynous makeup, think an influential individualist. Go for the nostalgia – whether you’re a boomer, X’er or even a Y, the legacy that is Bowie is bound to astound.

Lenny Henry. Image: supplied

6. Lenny Henry – Cradle to Rave

Lenny Henry returns to his roots with a funky, funny and personal one-man show, about the things he loves most: music.

Wait, he’s a comedian – why should I choose this as my cabaret experience? There’s no denying this guy is funny and talented. Lenny Henry has visited Australia before and has delivered sold-out shows to rave reviews.  What’s really intriguing about this show is the music element – he’s got a great set of pipes and the music influences of his life are fascinating. This show looks like it’s an invitation to visit Lenny for tea and hear his stories with a bit of a sing-along around the piano.

Johanna Allen. Image: supplied

5. Johanna Allen – Mixtape and Other Stories

Have you ever given a collection of songs to someone? Adelaide’s favourite daughter of musical theatre, Johanna Allen returns to her old stomping ground with her new show of eclectic music from the Pixies to Puccini.

But there’s so much on, why choose this one? Adelaide loves it when one of our own makes good. Many avid theatregoers would remember Johanna from the 90s performing in local productions around town, garnering rave reviews and comments of “we knew her when”. It’s an honour to have her back in town to strut her stuff and we should welcome her back with open arms in the hopes she might visit more often. She’s sassy and stupendously talented… there’s bound to be a set list with something for everyone if her career is anything to go by!

Eddie Perfect, Misanthropology. Image: Prudence Upton

4. Eddie Perfect – Misanthropology

Eddie Perfect is back in Adelaide with his darkly satirical one-man comedy, examining the stranger cultural rituals we regularly find ourselves performing.

Why should I scoff down my last bit of churro to get to this show? It’s about time Eddie Perfect returned to Adelaide. He’s had critical acclaim for Misanthropology around Australia and we haven’t seen his unique humour since his show Drink Pepsi Bitch! at the 2006 Adelaide Fringe… yes, it’s been that long! Eddie Perfect is intelligent, political and cutting… it might not strictly be “cabaret” but it’s bound to be entertaining.

Jack Charles. Image: supplied

3. Jack Charles V The Crown

One of Australia’s most highly regarded performers, an Aboriginal elder who pioneered Koorie theatre in the 1970s, an actor, musician, potter and gifted performer who has been homeless, an addict, a thief and a regular in prison. Backed by a three-piece band, Jack performs an engaging evening of songs from Jack’s 1940s childhood to a blues version of Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poem Son of Mine.

Do you really need a reason for this one? This is our Australian heritage live on stage… there is so much history associated with this one performer. A trailblazer for Indigenous arts, having founded the first Aboriginal theatre company and the star of Australian films including The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. This is a unique opportunity to discover Australia’s Indigenous arts through the intimacy of cabaret. It promises to be storytelling at its best.

Justin Burford, Kurt. Image: supplied

2. Kurt – Justin Burford (World Premiere)

Kurt Cobain defined a generation. Justin Burford, ARIA Award winning frontman of End of Fashion and star of Rock of Ages, weaves story and song to celebrate Kurt Cobain’s short and influential existence.

Pull out the flanny and get grungy this cabaret – as a staunch Gen X, this one is near the top of my list. The sneak peek of Justin (as Kurt) at the launch was spooky… the man embodies Kurt Cobain, channelling his voice, stature and mannerisms. There’s no denying the influence that this artist had on the music of today and a trip down memory lane to the early 90s will keep you toasty warm in your flannelette shirt and torn jeans.

Lea Salonga. Image: supplied

1. Lea Salonga (Australian Premiere)

She’s a queen of the musical theatre stage, creating the role of Kim in Miss Saigon and recognised for her voice in Disney’s Aladdin and Mulan. Join Lea for a musical tour of her multi-faceted career.

But it’s raining outside… can’t I just hire a DVD? No! For any musical theatre nerd, Lea is royalty that cannot be missed at this year’s Cabaret Festival. Her voice is amazing and the show is bound to be dotted with showbiz anecdotes and memories. This is a musical theatre experience for all generations… particularly the girls who know every word to ‘A Whole New World’ or musical theatre die-hards that have seen the Albert Hall concert of Les Miserables a million times

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre from 8 – 23 June 2012.  For program and more information, visit www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au

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Hayley has written 60 articles on AussieTheatre
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