Festival Theatre, Fri 10 Jun
TheVariety Gala Performance ushered in the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival with a line-up of selected acts handpicked by curators Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect to showcase their idea of what cabaret ‘could be’. The very tone of this year’s festival was set by the Festival stage itself – devoid of curtains and backdrops, pared back, bones laid bare – a skeleton stage that allowed the audience to see beyond the glitz of traditional velvet drapery. The immensity of the stage is immediately arresting, as is this behind-the-scenes view – a landscape filled with the opportunities for exploration that seem to be at the heart of McGregor and Perfect’s ‘vision’ for 2016.
Hew Parham (Rudi’s The Rinse Cycle) was an MC of sorts, his hapless ‘stage manager’ persona a true delight, as was Frank Woodley’s odd little ditty about a little boy with a thing for hummingbirds. Another twelve acts followed, each claiming its own unique space within the art form of cabaret performance. An unrecognisable Rhonda Burchmore – along with “twin’ Trevor Ashley – were pure entertainment whilst drinking songs by Die Roten Punkte’s Otto & Astrid ensured plenty of audience participation. Song-stylist Barb Jungr brought her unique take on Bob Dylan to the stage whilst Miss Behave and leather clad sidekick Harriet soaked the stage in much appreciated silliness and bling.
A huge audience response met the announcement of this year’s recipient of the Cabaret Icon Award – Robyn Archer, an immensely popular choice for her 41 years of significant contribution to cabaret as performer, writer, director and advocate of the arts in Australia.
Bobby Fox brought a slick ‘50’ vibe to the stage with the Franki Valli classic Stay, and comedienne/singer Amy G provided that gem, that surprise that you look for in cabaret art in the form of a burlesque-inspired chicken dance that simply defies explanation.
Though lacking the showy glamour of previous Variety Gala Performances, it is clear that Artistic Directors McGregor and Perfect have managed to source acts that push at the boundaries of what we may believe cabaret to be, even as they delight, inspire, amaze and entertain.
Rosie van Heerde
Image courtesy of Claudio Raschella
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