[ADELAIDE & INTERNATIONAL ~ ADELAIDE EXCLUSIVE]
Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sat 23 Jun.
Well supported by a somewhat “grog loving” butler in the form of Irish comedian Eddie Bannon, Ali McGregor bid farewell to another chilly cabaret season in true style – with champers in hand from the comfort of a roaring fire and decadent chaise lounge. Here she more or less remained – determined not to “miss a thing” on this, her final night as outgoing Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director. Glamorously stylish to a fault, McGregor relished her final performance opportunities, opening the evening with an energetic Come On–A My House, as well as duets with various artists throughout the evening. This included singing Nyiir Ienquarr with Southern Sudanese vocalist Ajak Kwai, Old Black Magic with vocalist/trumpeter Eric Santucci, and a duet with John Cameron Mitchell where Mitchell’s Happy Days Are Here Again were beautifully mixed with McGregor’s Get Happy Judy Garland classic.
The evening was a who’s who of this year’s cabaret festival magic, and indeed the performers – some with very limited rehearsal opportunities due to tight schedules – captured the soulful essence of this Closing Gala theme perfectly. Michaela Burger’s original song, Tall Poppy was a beautifully arranged and heartfelt nod to her Greek father’s migration experience, whilst the Mission Songs Project’s Yil Lull was seriously breathtaking. Indigenous vocalists Jessie Lloyd, Jessica Hitchcock, Candice Lloyd and Deline Briscoe (from Mission Songs Project) lent their wonderfully harmonic voices to a silent generation in a performance that was truly a privilege to experience.
Many other performers came and conquered– Joanne Hartstone leading a Suffragette medley from her That Daring Australian Girl show was a girl-power highlight, as was Louise Fitzharding’s It’s A Wonderful World, sung in a variety of languages according to the flags raised by audience members in the front row. American actor Jason Kravits showed us his comedy/jazz chops in an entertaining improvised song, I’ll See You Soon, Sweets inspired by an audience member’s most recent text message.
In other fun moments, Eddie Bannon shed his butler’s outfit in favour of a t-shirt complete with muscles and almost stole the show alongside a stage full of terrific young Irish dancers. Sheridan Harbridge treated the room to the show that she ‘would have performed’ had she been more organised, Yana Alana (Sarah Ward) just simply ‘appeared’ at the top of a stairway to nowhere, in her Queen Kong space outfit, sang a strange arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock and…disappeared again.
The grand finale was indeed grand – with Dutch treat and festival favourite Sven Ratzke finally making a long-awaited appearance, his Bowie rendition of Let’s Dance working beautifully as Mission Songs Project returned to the stage with Didgeridoo artists Jamie Goldsmith and Harley Hall, playing Yothu Yindi’s Treaty in a glorious mashup of these two wonderful songs.
Though ending on a musical/cultural high with the evenings entire cast onstage, the audience did seem to be left hanging as the curtain closed – and stayed closed. An encore would have been welcomed, as would have the announcement of the new Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director for 2019-2021 – it’s a pity one had to attend The Backstage Club later that night to find out that the wonderful Julia Zemiro has scored this prize gig. The audience was there, the love was there, but the opportunity to share it with the masses was missed.
Rosie van Heerde
Image courtesy of Claudio Rachella