June 08, 2014

Variety adds spice to Ceberano’s cabaret life

Filed under: 2014,Archive,Cabaret

Variety Gala Performance
Festival Theatre
June 6.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2014
Adelaide Festival Centre
Bookings BASS 131 246;
until June 21.

In a flurry of feathers, finery and red carpet the 14th Adelaide Cabaret Festival has opened with its usual first night event, the Variety Gala Performance, but, outgoing Artistic Director, Kate Ceberano insists, “it’s not the usual suspects.”

Perhaps that is a nod towards those who wonder what exactly “cabaret” is these days. Is it Weimar cafes ? The Black Cat club in Montmartre? Or is it tribute shows, veteran performers revisiting the fans, and young actors showing their triple threat ? The answer, looking at Ceberano’s eclectic program, is all of the above.

Stepping from the ropes of her (slightly wacky) Famous Boxing Tent stage set, the vivacious Kate Ceberano crooned swan song verses from My Way as she both opened the Gala and bade adieu to her third and final festival.

With thirteen acts to introduce, MC Todd McKenney, mixing charm and comic smarm, kept proceedings brisk. French chanteuse and Le Lido regular, Caroline Nin joined Australian-born Moulin Rouge and Lido performer, Shay Stafford for song and high kicks and Nin, a cabaret festival favourite, added a Piaf classic.

For a little Brecht and Weill, flamboyant Dutch singer Sven Ratzke sang a lumpy version of Alabama Song and Australian talent, Kim Smith, now resident in New York, launched Pirate Jenny – peerlessly, down to the last sinister whisper.

Many hit the pop catalogue – the versatile Ali McGregor, making cabaret with kids this time, bounced among some under-sevens singing Beyonce’s Single Ladies. Lizzie Moore channeled the mysterious Minogue sister, Erin, with INXS’s Never Tear Us Apart, and Adelaide singer Carla Lippis sang a knockout big ballad version of Cher’s Bang Bang. Stylish vocal quartet, Swing on This – Michael Falzon, Matt Lee, Luke Kennedy and Ben Mingay – gave a new dawn, maybe even a new life, to Michael Buble’s Feeling Good.

The headliner, sixties and seventies singer-songwriter, Melanie Safka seemed flustered, almost accidentally finding a brand new key, as she sang her hit Lay Down (Candles in the Wind) but she steadied as she led the gala performers in an unlikely cabaret finale – Give Peace a Chance.

The Adelaide Art Orchestra, under the baton of Matthew Carey, were outstanding, and director Andy Packer brought together a great show on a tight schedule.

But it was Rhonda Burchmore, glorious in her red sequined tunic and hot pants – “I’ve put on my Barbie legs for you Adders !” – who trumped the night with her non-twerking mashup featuring Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball. No sooner had she finished and she was presented with the Festival’s second Cabaret Icon award – to the delight of the audience and fellow performers.

Murray Bramwell

“Variety adds spice to Ceberano’s cabaret life”, The Australian, June 9, 2014, p.16

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