The 2017 festival showcases 17 world premieres, 5 Australian premieres, 25 Adelaide premieres as well as 17 Adelaide exclusives, 20 shows with international artists and 5 totally original shows commissioned or co-commissioned by Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Artistic directors Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect together with Adelaide Festival Centre proudly serve up a program of 430 artists in 147 performances over 16 days and nights. There are 58 international artists from as far afield as the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Japan and New Zealand, together with 372 Australian artists including 234 from South Australia. The 2017 festival showcases 17 world premieres, 5 Australian premieres, 25 Adelaide premieres as well as 17 Adelaide exclusives, 20 shows with international artists and 5 totally original shows commissioned or co-commissioned by Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Minister for the Arts the Hon. Jack Snelling MP:
"Adelaide Cabaret Festival was recognised as South Australia's best major event and festival in the 2016 South Australian Tourism Awards. This is a great achievement in the festival state and a testament to the power of the arts and cabaret to bring people together and light up the city as it does each June."
Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier:
"We welcome back Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect as they continue to build on last year's phenomenal event - one of our most successful Adelaide Cabaret Festivals ever. This year, the cabaret spirit is stronger than ever and invites you to engage with our venues like never before. We've repositioned Wintergarden, introduced a new venue (Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent) and a number of program highlights will grace Her Majesty's Theatre stage. Now in its 17th year the success of the festival would not be possible without the dedicated staff and volunteers, ongoing support of our loyal Adelaide Cabaret Festival patrons, the South Australian Government, associated partners and corporate sponsors."
Artistic Director Ali McGregor:
"Our final night gala this year has the theme Love and Revolution which is a sentiment that runs throughout this year's program. I don't think any other genre has the ability to emotionally connect like cabaret. This year we have people creating quiet revolutions in dance and theatre, loud revolutions with burlesque and tomfoolery and dissonant revolutions with unique musical collaborations. The common theme throughout is one of LOVE: love through the discovery of another's story, a shared enjoyment of song, the ability to laugh at ourselves and question our motives and desires.
"The intimacy of cabaret means that there is an inherent level of trust between performer and audience. But there is also a level of trust that YOU, our loyal patrons put in Eddie and I. We are introducing you to some new acts and ideas. The tables that turn will not only bring fresh talent but also celebrate performers that you already know and love."
Artistic Director Eddie Perfect:
"Nobody can deny that the social and political landscape has become wild and bumpy in 2017. Wherever you sit on the ideological spectrum, we all find ourselves living in George Orwell's 1984 where war is peace, ignorance is strength and lies are truth.
"It is my biased opinion that cabaret has a rich and strong tradition as one of the first art forms to react to the world around us. The 2017 program represents unique and varied artists doing just that: speaking to power, questioning tradition, upholding tolerance, love and respect, and uniting us together as an audience, a city or just one single room, to laugh at naked emperors and to feel embraced, accepted and alive. In 2017 we invite our brave and open-minded audience to join us to turn the tables from fear to love, division to unity, anger to joy, and all with wit, skill, wonder and passion."
Take a first bedazzled bite of the pie with hosts Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect during the opening weekend. Tried and tested favourite the Variety Performance Gala will feature a sizzling smorgasbord of unmissable acts over two nights, presentation of the annual Cabaret Icon Award, and a few secret ingredients. 2016's hugely successful Family Gala returns giving pint-sized theatregoers their first taste of walking the red carpet. Frock up the entire family and celebrate extra hard with 2017 also heralding the 40th birthday of Something on Saturday.
Family circle celebrations continue with the 16th instalment of Hush 16: A Piece of Quiet original Australian music created for children in hospitals blending lyrical input from Australian children, stunning vocals from The Idea of North and inspirational musical compositions by Elena Kats-Chernin, Lior and Adelaide's Zephyr Quartet. Lior also lends his exemplary voice and songwriting prowess to Love, Loss and Compassion in which the he presents with Australian String Quartet beloved songs, selected previews from his upcoming album and a re-imagined version of Sim Shalom (Grant Peace) from the orchestral song cycle, Compassion, written with Nigel Westlake.
Turns of phrase, songwriters and wordsmiths are the bread and butter of cabaret. Whisking together incredible culinary fusions are iconic singer-songwriter Paul Kelly and magnetic Irish-French chanteuse Camille O'Sullivan who breathe new life into the works of W. B. Yeats and the poets of Erin and add newly composed songs to create Ancient Rain. In Peter Coleman-Wright & Nexas Quartet, baritone Peter Coleman-Wright and scintillating saxophonists Nexas Quartet embark on a musical journey from Berlin and Vienna to New York and beyond with a mixture of Weimar political songs and those of Weill, Stolz and Schreker.
Winners of multiple Grammys (music's Michelin stars) are USA jazz extraordinaires guitarist Bill Frisell, paying tribute to classic American cinema tracks with and, making her Adelaide debut, the spectacular Dianne Reeves who brings her powerhouse vocals and incredible improvisational R&B stylings to the stage.
In an Australian premiere, founding Fascinating Aida member and self-confessed chutney lover Dillie Keane takes a solo leap with Hello Dillie, a brand-new show of well-loved favourites, original songs and plenty of cheerfully filthy smut. Your heart will be further warmed (or possibly shattered into smaller pieces) by the Australian premier of Songs For Lovers (and Other Idiots) featuring the trademark wit and virtuosity of Sarah-Louise Young and Michael Roulston's decade-long partnership.
Elise McCann, 2016's Helpmann Award-winning Miss Honey in Matilda the Musical, continues her fascination with Roald Dahl's scrumdiddlyumptiously sardonic characters in Dahlesque, featuring songs inspired by the movies of his books as well as original compositions of Revolting Rhymes. Clear a space on your dance card for Penny Ashton who pays sincere apology to Jane Austen with her new musical Promise and Promiscuity, combating literary snobbery and cousin Horatio's digestions with her trusty ukulele and a slice or two of pound cake.
Major life changes are on the menu for musical comedy darling Gillian Cosgriff, whose sense of the impending probable apocalypse only adds to the anxiety of her partner's marriage proposal in To the Moon and Back, and iconoclastic New York sassy siren Lady Rizo, who is balancing new motherhood while staying atop her glittery stilettos in Multiplied.
Take a theatrical turn with shows whose sweet, indulgent theatrical heart will engulf even the staunchest attendees...but don't get too comfortable! Dusty Limits Grin's caustic observations on life, love and the ghastly state of the world will have you grasping the gin bottle in solidarity before the honey-cream hypnotic voice of Meow Meow joins forces with the Orchestrer der Kleinen Reginment in the ultimate duel of grand old dames in Souvenir, an attempt to summon the ghosts of Her Majesty's Theatre past, present and future.
Pull up a chair at Linda Catalano's table to hear One Suitcase, Four Stories, tales of migration, family and her nonna's best recipes which you'll prepare and eat together. You'll need a glass of wine or two to stomach the explosive dramas of Australian theatre darling Christie Whelan Browne's fictitious family in Vigil, when prodigal daughter Liz bursts through the door on Christmas Day demanding answers and truths that can't be soothed with Christmas carols.
Intimate undertones of loss, longing, joy and hope bubble to the surface of Robyn Archer's The Sound of Falling Stars, starring Cameron Goodall who inhabits the unmatchable souls of Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley and many more. For main course, anarchic punk gypsies The Tiger Lillies serve up a riotous cocktail of music-hall antics, mad accordion and bar room brawls with The Very Worst of The Tiger Lillies. And who else could be the dessert special but Le Gateau Chocolat in Black. His velvety voice and heart-warming confessions assisted by songs from Wagner, Purcell, Nina Simone and Whitney Houston will have you feeling like you've spent a soul-satisfying session with your dearest friend.
Jump aboard the merry go round for a whirling lazy susan evening of musical comedy and general buffoonery. Bourgeois and Maurice will give you an expert crash course in How to Save the World Without Really Trying and all you really need are shellac nails, false eyelashes that sweep the floor and the energy of a Kanye gig. You're then fully prepped for the wedding of the century, when Australia's favourite Greek goddess finally gains a husband and loses a cherry in Effie The Virgin Bride, with her immaculately conceived daughter Aphrodite and Uncle Vasili along for the ride. For those celebrating love the second time round, Simon Hall (Yon) of Tripod fame has you covered with Second Wedding Singer, backed by The Brass Rings and featuring such soon to be hits as 'My Parents' Breakup (Was Better Than Your Parents' Breakup)' and 'Guilt Is My Engine'.
Far greater value than any intoxicated best man's speech are the uproarious sketch and improvisational talents of the Pajama Men, whose jubilant Pterodactyl Nights will have you shrieking into the night, and velvet-draped nightingale Tina Del Twist (the genius comic invention of Wes Snelling) adds her brie-shredding wit to many of the classics in Gold Glass, backed by her guitar-toting maestro Stephen Weir.
Making her Adelaide debut is one of New York City's funniest people. With appearances in Inside Amy Schumer, Sex And The City and Trainwreck under her belt, Bridget Everett will teach you to Pound It! as only she can in her outrageous, gut wrenching manner, letting her explosive vocal talent take over once the flesh is truly sexed-out (and it may take all night).
Pile on the wasabi as Colin Lane, David Collins and (Collin-less) Amy G go head to head with Gilbert and Sullivan to re-tell their most popular light opera. To silence their diva-ish squabbles they are all playing the lead role in Three Mikados where they may kill you with laughter but at least they won't murder the songs.
Turning heads are those masterful main course shows which you ignore at your peril – indigestion be dammed! At long last gracing the Adelaide stage is a shape-shifting trickster and legendary showman who knows a thing or two about Cabaret. Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs draws on his infamous Club Cumming dressing room evenings and shares some of his most hilarious, distressing and heart-wrenching stories in one unmissable evening.
The otherworldly bodies, theatrical circus atmosphere and burlesque bravado of Brisbane's own Briefs boys must be seen to be believed in Close Encounters. Their brand new show boldly goes beyond the limits of masculinity, taste and decency. The drag antics continue as Courtney Act reminds you there's no place like home with The Girl From Oz, throwing onto the backyard barbeque a meat tray of Australian hits from AC/DC to Xanadu.
Self-confessed gay superhero and 2017 Adelaide Fringe Best Cabaret winner Reuben Kaye demands you accompany him on a Journey to the Centre of Attention, charting his rise from bullied schoolyard scapegoat to keeper of one of London's most divine voices and giving him a firm run for the glittery money is Kim David Smith, who premieres his brand-new show Morphium Kabarett conjuring Peter Allen, David Bowie, Kylie and Marlene Dietrich in the ultimate dinner party dream performance of 1920s Berlin.
In need of a siesta? Strange Bedfellows have the bed if slumber is not actually desired. Uderfunded and over-lubricated, Australian opera's enfants terribles present Bedlam, lithium laced musical shock therapy, with multiple Helpmann Award winners Jacqueline Dark and Kanen Breen donning their fishnets and strait jackets to take asylum on the Artspace centre stage.
If a constantly changing buffet of multiple acts is more your style, take turns at the Backstage Club. It's the only place to be seen for late-night shenanigans, all the gossip you can stomach, and the most vivacious vocal lineups over a cocktail or two, the Backstage Club is hosted weekly by Reuben Kaye, Ali McGregor and NYC nightlife legend Murray Hill, last seen commandeering the microphone for Dita Von Teese and Club Swizzle.
Class of Cabaret 2017 is in session, and 23 rising stars from across metropolitan and regional South Australian schools draw on personal memories to create meticulously charming musical stylings, mentored by cabaret darlings Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan and coached by vocal legend Charmaine Jones. Demonstrating that their vocal talents have far outgrown the school assembly hall in the Class of Cabaret Graduates's Retrospective, takes previous students – Alex De Porteous, Claire Morphett, Eva Rundle and Jerome Javier – sifts in mentoring by festival favourite Libby O'Donovan and bakes for 70 minutes across a multitude of musical decades to produce perfectly formed artists of the future.
The creative jus will flow for one night only with the return of the Cabaret Dinner, a fine food affair hosted by Libby O'Donovan with the spotlight this year on South Australian chef Simon Burr of award winning restaurant The Olfactory Inn. Simon will satisfy your olfaction and gustation with a thoughtful three-course meal honouring the produce of the Adelaide Hills matched carefully to Grant Burge wines and a hot side dish of Adelaide Cabaret Festival artists!
In free events, discover key ingredients in successful songwriting with the return of Songwriter Series. Artistic Director Eddie Perfect will interview a lineup of musical theatre and cabaret's most masterful minds. With the return of Art Stories (hosted by Chris Drummond), Steve Vizard, Carlotta, Sarah Louise-Young and Fez Faanana will swap stories and discuss the moments that led to their success giving step by step insight into what drives and inspires human creativity.
The free entertainment continues with late nights in Piano Bar at the Bistro, Late Night DJs every Friday and Saturday night from 11:30pm (as well as Sunday night of the opening weekend), workshops and the fabulous local band The AirBenders in Bands in the Wintergarden.
Burn off the calories as cabaret turns on its heel with the raw power of non-verbal language in Out of Earshot, presented by groundbreaking physical movement company KAGE. The distinctive style of profoundly Deaf dancer Anna Seymour is perfectly complemented by Gerard Van Dyck, Elle Evangelista and Timothy Ohl, and backed by renowned contemporary jazz musician, Myele Manzanza under the award-winning choreography and direction of Kate Denborough.
Direct from the Gold Coast and channeling David Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer circa 1989 are Peter & Bambi Heaven with The Magic Inside, a spectacular magical act with the emphasis on tack and all the sequins you could choke on. If you do choke , Ryan Gonzales will happily bang you (on the back), stab you (in the heart) and serenade you Latino-style with Hispanic Attack, fiery hits from Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan and Enrique Iglesias, and possibly even his former Menudo band mate turned sworn enemy Ricky Martin.
For the ultimate comfort food, open the pages of your favourite recipe books and turn back time with the songbooks of modern music's best songwriters. The best of Berlin, Rogers & Hart, Sondheim and Peter Allen are sprinkled liberally amongst stories of 50 years on and off the stage in Carlotta: Queen of the Cross, starring Australia's living legend, political activist and inspiration for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Lucky: Songs by Kylie pays homage to Australia's slightly younger royal figure but unquestionable pop princess, brought to full hot pants-popping life by Michael Griffiths and his impeccably bottomed four piece band.
Adelaide Cabaret Festival favourite, five-time Grammy and two-time Emmy nominee, and extraordinaire interpreter of the Great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein joins forces with a 17-piece big band for Sinatra and Friends. Performing a lip smacking blend of incredible swing songs and vintage ballads, plus delightful seldom-sampled arrangements, Feinstein will pay tribute to Liza Minnelli, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr. and more.
Several of Australia's sassiest and silver-tongued women raise their glasses in tribute to iconic songs and performers, with Cath Alcorn fresh from her 2016 Sydney Theatre Award nomination (Best Cabaret Show) to present Cathartic, applying her razor sharp touch and impeccable versatility to smoking hot melodies from Blondie to Beyonce; and Amanda Harrison (Wicked), Chelsea Renton-Gibb (Cabaret, Chicago) and Melissa Langton (The Fabulous Singlettes) unite as Cyrens: the Swinging Songbook of Cy Coleman, presenting the ultimate thank you to Broadway jazz pianist and composer of iconic shows including Sweet Charity and Barnum.
Carole King's Tapestry is still an undisputed top table centerpiece almost 50 years after its release and top-tier artists Vika Bull and Debra Byrne, backed by the Brill Band, will ensure that you feel the earth move, know that you've got a friend, and feel like a natural woman more than ever. The work of trailblazer and incomparable talent Jacques Brel, is brought to life by Ali McGregor and a teeming kitchen cupboard of cabaret friends in Brel, capturing the Belgian singer-songwriter's pathos, wit and intensity.
Paying tribute to fictitious women including Lucy in the sky with diamonds, Eleanor Rigby and Penny Lane is the very much alive Lady Beatle. Naomi Price's crowd-pleasing performance as Adele in Rumour Has It wowed last year at Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2017 and in Lady Beatle she brings new flavours to The Beatles' immortal catalogue.
The Idea of North and Japanese beat boxer Kaichiro Kitamura do away with music (and limits) altogether to immortalise the beauty of harmonious pitch perfect voices in Groove Sessions.
Pour yourself a final nightcap with the Closing Variety Gala – Songs of Love and Revolution. Ali McGregor, Eddie Perfect and the hottest acts from the closing weekend take to the stage to sign off on another incredible Adelaide Festival Centre.
Naturally, the Cabaret Wintergarden will be bursting at the seams with a variety of delectable cuisines to keep you well-nourished in between shows and in true table turning style this year the Wintergarden has relocated from the Terrace to its new home on the Riverdeck outside the Dunstan Playhouse.