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2016 Cabaret Festival proves a hot ticket

Cabaret Festival

Box office takings for the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival are already 5 per cent ahead of the opening day of last year’s record-breaking event, with 25 performances – including burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese – selling out.

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The Adelaide Festival Centre says other sold-out performances in the festival, which opens tonight, include David Hobson and Colin Lane, Sven Ratzke’s Starman, Ali McGregor’s Decadence, Barb Jungr’s Hard Rain, US stage and screen star Megan Hilty, and Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin.

Also selling fast are tickets for Lisa Fischer, Southern Belles, Bobby Fox, Amy G’s Entershamement and the Backstage Clubs.

New co-artist directors Eddie Perfect and Ali McGregor – who have had big shoes to fill after Barry Humphries’ 2015 festival broke all previous box office records – are promising a “completely kick-arse” line-up of star-studded, sparkly entertainment over the 16-day festival.

“We’ve been really gifted in that there’s just so much wonderful cabaret going on in the world and we were lucky enough to see a lot of it,” McGregor says.

“We got to handpick some of the best acts in the cabaret scene in the world and bring them back to this wonderful festival.”

Perfect says he McGregor and  have formed “a kind of vaudevillian double act” in the process of pulling together the program. With similar tastes but different interests, they are presenting shows that reflect the diversity of cabaret – including comedy, political satire, burlesque and storytelling.

“We’ve really tried to get a sense of honouring the past of cabaret and then looking forward to the future,” McGregor says of their approach to the program.

“We’ve also followed that through in the design of not only the marketing materials but also the venue itself.

“We’ve tried to create this aesthetic where we’ve taken a heap of stuff that been quite literally thrown away backstage in the theatre – things from past productions – and we’ve pieced together all those disparate pieces to create something really quite beautiful and unique out of it.”

Asked to nominate program highlights, Perfect says: “Nothing gets into the festival unless it’s completely kick-arse … you could close your eyes and stick a pin in the program and you’d land on a really exciting prospect.”

Two Australian acts he does single out are young Melbourne jazz pianist and singer-songwriter Hue Blanes, who is presenting Hue Blanes and The Moon, and Tripod’s love letter to gaming This Gaming Life, which will be performed tomorrow with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

McGregor picks Australian cabaret show Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin (by Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood), musical comedian Sammy J’s solo act The Sammy J Songbook and New York performer Amy G’s Entershamement. “She’s a true vaudevillian performer – she sings, she roller-skates, she’s a clown. It’s a funny, wonderful show.”

One event they both urge audiences to experience is Miss Behave’s Game Show. Part game show, part variety show and part disco, it encourages audience involvement (using mobile phones) and started off at the Adelaide Fringe before going on to enjoy international success.

Gameshow host Miss Behave. Photo: Dave Pickens

Gameshow host Miss Behave. Photo: Dave Pickens

Perfect admits it’s “a little one out of the box” for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, saying he was unsure what to expect before he saw if for himself at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“I walked in and I have never experienced such joyous manic anarchy in my life. It is impossible not to get swept up in it.

“It is truly one of the most enjoyable but bizarre, absurd, hilarious but quite poignant late-night shows I’ve ever seen.”

The Cabaret Festival opens tonight, with the always-popular Variety Gala Performance, put together by director Andy Packer and musical director Vanessa Scammell.

It will showcase about a dozen different artists – including McGregor and Perfect, who will perform a duet written by Perfect about their relationship to each other as festival directors.

“The line-up is fantastic,” McGregor says of the gala.

“It’s a different aesthetic. I think that walking into the theatre, people will be quite surprised and not know what’s going on, then as the night develops everything kind of evolves.

“We’re excited about changing it up a little bit.”

Dita von Teese, however, won’t be part of the line-up, as she doesn’t arrive in Adelaide until Monday for her show at the Festival Theatre.

“Eddie has brought along a set of nipple tassels, though, so if it comes to that he can step in,” quips McGregor.

The 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs until June 25.

See all InDaily’s Cabaret Festival stories and reviews here.

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