Now in its 15 year, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the largest festival of its kind in the world. The annual festival is held in South Australia’s capital city of Adelaide and has become a major event in the international arts calendar.
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival was established in 2001 by original artistic director Julia Holt and South Australian arts icon Frank Ford. The festival was created as an alternative to the comedy-heavy Adelaide Fringe Festival and to fill a void in Adelaide’s winter programming.
From it’s beginning, the festival attracted the attention of the cabaret community around the world due to its distinctive combination of big-name artists and talented newcomers. The first cabaret festival featured Australian jazz musician James Morrison, satirical musician Phil Scott, and Australian stage performer Caroline O’Connor.
Since then, the festival has grown in size and has now attracts close to 50,000 people each year. Past festival headliners included names such as Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, songwriter Natalie Cole, and broadway stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel.
By appointing well-known artistic directors the festival has been successful in attracting high-profile artists and in promoting the event to national and international audiences. Inaugural artistic director, Julia Holt was followed by Australian singer and musical theatre performer David Campbell in 2009 then by Australian soul, jazz, and pop singer Kate Ceberano in 2012.
This year, Australian comedy legend Barry Humphries makes his debut as the festival’s artistic director. Humphries, who is best known for his alter egos Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson, says he hopes this year’s festival line-up will “excite and titillate your senses.”
Despite declaring last year that the f-word would be banned, the 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s official theme is ‘cabaret has no rules.’
The festival will open on June 5 and run until June 20. The 2015 program features 152 performances by 50 international artists and 300 of the best Australian performers. The program will also feature 18 world premieres and 11 international shows.
“I’m delighted to be presenting some of the best local, national and international artists on the Cabaret scene” says Humphries.
“Some are very good friends of mine – Sir Les Patterson, whom I manage, will be making an appearance, while gigastar Dame Edna said she might make the trip over from Moonee Ponds.”
The 2015 festival program includes the world premiere of Peter & Jack, curated and narrated by the artistic director, the show pays tribute to two of Australia’s most successful musicians, Peter Dawson and Jack O’Hagan. On the final night of the festival Humphries will perform in Love Songs For Les, featuring special guests invited by Sir Les Patterson.
At the request of Barry Humphries, Australian-born cabaret performer, Meow Meow will return with an intimate cabaret show and world premiere featuring the songs of Weimar Germany.
Opera Burlesque will showcase cabaret star Ali McGregor along with Australian opera singers Antoinette Halloran and Dimity Shepherd and Burlesque performer Imogen Kelly in a performance that combines pop songs with opera.
American cabaret singer Storm Large will perform the Australian premiere of Taken By Storm “a seductively brilliant collection of tortured and titillating love songs” and The Glenn Miller Orchestra’s tribute to the spirit of ANZAC with the songs of the first world war.
Other highlights of the 2015 program include Australian tenor Daniel Koek in Bringing Him Home with His West End Story highlighting his leading theatre roles on the world stage, Bernadette Robinson in Pennsylvania Avenue – “a wonderful celebration of iconic singers who have been deeply connected to the White House,” Australian comedian Adam Hills performing his new show Clown Heart, New York cabaret star Lady Rizo, British musical comedy act Frisky and Mannish, the Grammy-nominated Karrin Allyson Quartet, and renowned Netherlands singer Laura Fygi.
Although Dame Edna doesn’t have a show in the 2015 festival, the Festival Theatre foyer will showcase Edna’s wardrobe in an exhibition that runs for the duration of the festival.
Adelaide-based production company Cul De Sac have created a campaign for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival featuring Barry Humphries putting his unique spin on cabaret.
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