Adelaide Cabaret Festival – A Melodic Extravaganza

Adelaide Festival Centre is transformed into a sultry cabaret club with shows from all over the globe. Highlights include Ursula Yovich exploring culture and connection in her Adelaide Cabaret Festival debut, Dry My Tears; and diva Mama Alto performing an hour of vaudeville delights in Follies Girl.

GRAMMY winner Rizo is here with Prizmatism – her magical antidote for loneliness with lashings of soul and sensuality. And don’t miss Brian Nankervis and Julia Zemiro in RocKwiz.

The Legend of Queen Kong

In celebration of the festival’s 50th birthday nine former artistic directors (known as The Cabaret Collective) have curated shows for this year’s winter program. Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis return with ‘RocKwiz’, saluting Adelaide and Australian music while Ali McGregor celebrates her golden 50th year at the Festival Centre with a brand new show ‘Fools Gold’ featuring new arrangements of old favourites.

Sarah Ward combines a glittery nude bodysuit with a large projection screen and a powerful live band to perform as the part ape, part rock Immortal Queen Kong on her intergalactic journey of human evolution. Her humour is wry, she commandeers asteroids and frolicks with aliens at bus stops before ending the show with Joni Mitchell’s ethereal Woodstock as a prelapsarian hymn.

Taking it Up the Octave

Adelaide’s favourite winter festival is going all out with a program that’s the brightest yet. Nine former Artistic Directors (including Tina Arena and Alan Cumming) have come together to form the Cabaret Collective, curating their top performance picks.

This year audiences can expect Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis to return with their hit show RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision – an Adelaide exclusive and sure-fire crowd pleaser, while singer, writer and performer Ursula Yovich explores culture and connection through song in her new work, Hootenanny.

In the Festival Theatre foyer Quartet Bar, cabaret lovers can hear from the Cabaret Collective in Conversation with Julia Holt and those who love a singalong can join Carol’s Cabaret Choir. Plus the iconic Paris Combo will celebrate the late songwriter Belle du Berry in their Australian premiere, A Celebration of Songs of Belle.

Difficult Woman

From its modest beginnings in 2001, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival has grown to become Australia’s major winter cabaret festival and one of the largest in the world. The organisers have taken some risks with their programming this year.

The result is a program of 91 shows, including 20 Adelaide premieres. Prolific writer and composer Eddie Perfect (‘Shane Warne: The Musical’, ‘Beetlejuice’) returns with his new show – The Blank Page With Eddie Perfect – which gives audiences an insider’s view of the creative process.

Adelaide audiences love Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis who return with RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision, a night of pure laugh-out-loud musical fun. Singer-songwriter Ursula Yovich offers a deeply personal work that explores culture and connection through song. She draws on her Arnhem Land roots and tri-lingual childhood household in a powerful love letter to language.

Edge of Reality

The program is bigger and brighter than ever before with 91 performances featuring 13 world premieres and 20 Adelaide premieres. Amongst the highlights is the return of Paris Combo’s jazz, swing and pop-cabaret with a unique tribute to Elvis with reimagined versions of his greatest hits.

Other artists include a cabaret classic from ARIA Award winner Vince Jones who performs the songs from his ABC television series Come In Spinner. Australian comedians Julia Holt and Brian Nankervis bring back RocKwiz, saluting Adelaide and celebrating South Australian music while Sydney star Montaigne returns to the festival after her Eurovision 2020 experience (albeit in virtual reality).

The Quartet Bar is open nightly for audience members to relax or party in between shows. And for those who love a good singalong there’s Carol Young’s Cabaret Choir and a brand new Show Tunes Trivia night.

Adelaide Tonight

Libby O’Donovan and Michelle Nicole bring harmonies to life with a mashup of rock, swing and pop cabaret in Edge of Reality. Also returning is the hilarious improvised The Blind Date Project by Bojana Novakovic (Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2018), and Julia Zemiro, the winner of the 2019 Cabaret Festival with her all-new show Rockwiz Salutes Eurovision, joined by Brian Nankervis.

Nancy Denis brings her Haitian heritage to the stage with Map Boule, a riveting performance exploring her ancestors’ rebellion against their colonisers. And direct from Paris, the iconic Paris Combo celebrate the songs of their late chanteuse and songwriter Belle du Berry in an Adelaide premiere. “Each Artistic Director has a wheelhouse they’re comfortable in, and that comes across in their program,” Sinclair says.

M’ap Boule

In M’ap Boule (Haitian slang for “everything’s good”), multidisciplinary artist Nancy Denis transforms the Space Theatre into a shrine of sorts. Teal drapes hang at different levels as a backdrop, candles are scattered throughout the space and an altar stands centre stage.

This year’s program has been curated by the festival’s previous artistic directors, including Tina Arena and Alan Cumming. Ali McGregor, who is presenting her new show Fool’s Gold, will also appear in the late-night variety-nite show Brag Drunch.

Julia Zemiro and cohort Brian Nankervis will return to the festival with RocKwiz Salutes Adelaide, celebrating incredible South Australian musicians from Cold Chisel to Hilltop Hoods. Broadway Barbara makes her Australian premiere in the final weekend, while British actor Sarah-Louise Young presents the Australian premiere of her touring show An Evening Without Kate Bush.

Paris Combo

Paris Combo, the French quintet dubbed the Vanessa Paradis of Lyon, is a joy. Their latest album, titled Tako Tsubo – a Japanese term for the very real cardiological effects of heartbreak, is an intensely sensual mix of tarantella rock and Romany swing.

But it was written before the coronavirus lockdown, and before our present anxieties – despite the title it’s an album of hope and possibility. In an Australian exclusive, Paris Combo celebrate the late songwriter Belle du Berry and her remarkable legacy.

Other highlights include Helpmann Award winner Michael Griffiths in a personal journey through songs with his show It’s A Sin, and Kween Kong, fresh from Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under, in a variety extravaganza. And for music lovers, Kate Ceberano presents a new big band production highlighting the harmony at the heart of our favourite songs.