“I’m a cabaret artist, not a f***ing role model,” yelps Mark Nadler from behind his grand piano.
Nadler has become a staple of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and is known for his musical talent as much as his cheeky irreverence. As Kate Ceberano watches his performance from the sidelines, a seed of inspiration is sown. Nadler may not have realised at the time, but his offhand comment would become the basis of Ceberano’s final festival program: Not Your Usual Suspects.
Since the beginning of her tenure as Artistic Director in 2012, Ceberano has been intent on highlighting local Australian talent. In delivering this ‘colonial’ cabaret, the festival was stripped down to hessian tents, wooden floors and pure, honest entertainment.
“It’s a funny little construct I set up a few years ago,” Ceberano says. “But I’ve been very loyal to it, I just wanted to make sure we have at least a fixed idea that Australia had it’s own cabaret universe.”
The 2014 program, which was announced today, is a record-breaking lineup including 470 artists and 170 performances. It features a string of cabaret ‘criminals’ and ‘recidivists’ including Ali McGregor, Rhonda Burchmore and Paul Capsis. After almost a decade’s absence, Australia’s own Anthony Warlow will also return to Adelaide to perform with fellow Broadway star Faith Prince.
Ceberano says that her only crime is her own presence, but it could hardly be classified as an offence at all. Under her leadership, the festival has seen heightened international attention, more engaged audiences and increased ticket sales. Ceberano’s festivals have featured artists such as Lea Salonga, Eden Espinosa, Ben Vereen, Molly Ringwald, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. With an air of lamentation, she also admits to have nearly secured Patti LuPone.
With its varied throng of performers, this year’s program definitely doesn’t lack talent, but with fewer headliners than in previous years, some audiences may wonder if Ceberano’s programming peaked too soon.
“I don’t know whether you ever get to a peak…you just sort of keep going, cause they [the festivals] keep evolving.” Ceberano says. “Cause I could guarantee you that Barry’s coming and he’s peaking at a whole other new level.”
Veteran entertainer Barry Humphries will assume the role of Artistic Director from 2015. There was some speculation in 2007 that Humphries might take over the reins of the Adelaide Festival, but The Advertiser reported in November that ‘cabaret was closer to his heart’.
“He is going to go into a higher ampage,” says Ceberano. “The things that he knows and has retained and the kind of interesting people he’s met…I think you’ll very much enjoy working with him, he’s gorgeous. And he’s the ne plus ultra of an artist, he’s kind of scary.”
While Humphries’ directorship is a huge coup for the festival, Ceberano has proved herself to be the most amiable of hosts. While she has made a distinct impression upon the festival, which is now considered the largest of its kind anywhere in the world, Ceberano is most proud of fostering a safe haven for cabaret artists. “Everyone is treated like a silkworm, and they always want to come back. So there’s got to be something in that.”
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival will be held from June 6 – 21.
Some of the artists included in the 2014 line up are:
Anthony Warlow & Faith Prince
Blake Bowden & Phil Scott
Eddie Perfect & Tripod
Michael Falzon, Ben Mingay, Matt Lee and Luke Kennedy
The King’s Singers
And many, many more! Tickets on sale from 11 April