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June 11, 2018

Old chums come help Ali party

Filed under: Archive,Cabaret,Current

Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Variety Gala
Festival Theatre.
June 8. Until June 23.
Bookings : adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au
or 131 246.

After parlaying the last two Adelaide Cabaret Festivals with co-conspirator Eddie Perfect, Artistic Director, Ali McGregor has 2018 all to herself. Her festival theme is “Eyes Open” and the diverse program brings 53 acts and more than 300 performers together for 16 days of eye and ear-popping cabaret.

For the Variety Gala opening, the recently re-opened Festival Theatre foyer was buzzing with red carpet plumage display and conspicuous anticipation. Directed by Zac Tyler, with musical direction from Michael Tyack and the outstanding house band, the Gala showcases new discoveries and familiar faces.

After a welcome to Country (which included a Haere Mai from the Modern Maori Quartet) Ali McGregor, also issued her cabaret willkommen. McGregor is a vivacious host whose enthusiasm for her task is warmly received.

Opening the bill is Todd McKenney (in town for Bosom Buddies, a duet show with Nancye Hayes) singing the mawkish favourite, Delta Dawn, with vocal help from the young interns, Class of Cabaret. Opera singer Antoinette Halloran delivers some pitch perfect coloratura burlesque with an excerpt from her solo show, Taking it Up the Octave– highlights from Verdi’s Rigoletto with libretto taken verbatim from 50 Shades of Grey.

The irresistible Modern Maori Quartet supply smooth harmonies and a reminder of old-style Polynesian variety showbands with a medley of wartime favourites complete with haka inflections. Local favourite Matt Gilbertson returns as Hans, in spangled sailor suit, singing the Theme from the Love Boat, and erstwhile Adelaide pop idol, Mark Holden, dressed in his circus ringmaster coat, charmed us with Vanessa Amorosi’s Shine.

From Port Arthur, Texas, just like rock legend Janis Joplin, Amber Martin performed Maybe from her Janis tribute show, while fellow American, Christina Bianco sang Life is a Cabaret, comprehensively channelling Liza with a Z, Streisand, Bernadette Peters and Celine Dion. Her show is called Me, Myself and Everyone Else.

Nancye Hayes also delighted the crowd with Liza Minnelli’s My Own Best Friend. Another highlight was a raucously funny version of John Farnham’s Touch of Paradise, from Em Rusciano’s Difficult Woman, a new festival commission.

Ali McGregor sang an intriguing, vocally athletic item from her Yma Sumac, 1950s Peruvian Songbird show, as well as presenting the Cabaret Festival Icon award. This year’s recipient was David Bates, the owner and operator of The Famous Spiegeltent. Built in 1920 and revived in 1995, it has provided a celebrated venue for cabaret performances (neo and retro) everywhere from Adelaide to Edinburgh.

The ubiquitous McGregor also performed I am Woman (mashed-up with Beyonce) before ushering in Captain Frodo and the Glorious Misfits for a zany Gala finale – CeCe Peniston’s 1991 dance hit, Fina

Published in slightly abridged form as :
“Old chums come help Ali party” The Australian, June 11, 2018,13.”

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