Capsis was presented with  the award by festival artistic director Alan Cumming at the event’s sequin-soaked opening-night Variety Gala at the Festival Theatre, where he was also part of the line-up of performers that included host Hans, Tim Minchin, Gerry Connolly, Mama Alto, Bob Downe and Anne Wills.

“Stop. Wait. I’m an ‘Icon’ now?,” he commented off-stage, before stating that he felt grateful to receive the award, especially after one of the worst possible years for those in the arts… “the year it was deemed that my job, my industry, my career was non-essential. I dispute that notion, that all arts are non-essential”.

“However… this award reflects my work onstage with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. My work with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival begins in the Jurassic period… I took part in the very first festival… there are too many glorious memories to mention here but I will start by saying that’s it all about my connection to the Adelaide audiences over the many years.

“It’s about the work, it’s about the opportunity to engage with fellow cabaret makers, singers, directors, writers, designers, the list goes on.”

Capsis is currently rehearsing with Adelaide’s Brink Productions for its new work The Bridge of San Luis Rey, set to premiere next month as part of the Adelaide Guitar Festival.

He has amassed an extensive list of theatre, cabaret, film and television credits over his performance career and has won a number of Helpmann Awards.

The performer nominated “three sterling highlights” from his work with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival: “Rocking the Spiegeltent in 2019 with Jethro Woodward and The Fitzroy Youth Orchestra – we had a blast every night in Julia Zemiro’s festival;  one year hanging out with the extraordinary legend Margarita Pracatan as she regaled me with her philosophy on relationships in the foyer of the Intercontinental Hotel after a show;  [and] the collaboration with the State Theatre Company of South Australia, directed by Geordie Brookman and the Cabaret Festival under Kate Ceberano, doing my solo show Little Bird.”

The Cabaret Icon Award has been presented since 2013 to acknowledge pioneers and leading figures in the Australian cabaret industry, with previous recipients including Reg Livermore, Rhonda Burchmore, Frank Ford, Robyn Archer and David Campbell.

The 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival continues until June 26 and includes 180 artists in more than 100 performances.

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.