REVIEW: Adelaide Cabaret Festival Variety Gala

REVIEW: Adelaide Cabaret Festival Variety Gala

LAST UPDATED // Sunday, 08 June 2014 15:03 Written by // Cec Busby

It’s Artistic Director Kate Ceberano’s last year at the helm of Adelaide Cabaret Festival and the chanteuse has decided to really let loose with this year’s festivities.

Ceberano has programmed an eclectic range of acts that will delight and surprise cabaret fans; and last night’s variety gala performance gave Adelaide audiences a taste of what is on offer.

Ceberano kicked things off with a cheeky take on the Sinatra hit ‘My Way’ – before introducing emcee of the night muscial theatre legend and Dancing With the Stars judge, Todd McKenney - who shared an easy rapport with audience.

First cab off the rank, Nelson Aspen of ‘Sunrise’ fame got the audience warmed up and then the show proper began with the gorgeous Melody Beck delivering a medley of songs from classic musical theatre fare, ‘Shall We Dance’, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ and ‘Tonight’. Beck was in fine voice and is certainly one to watch in the future. 

Caroline Nin and Shay Stafford took to the stage next to deliver a slice of life on the Champ Elysses; Nin’s smoky vocals and rendition of the Edith Piaf/ Charles Dumont classic ‘Non Je Ne Regrette Rien’ was a show-stopper.

For a change of pace, former Opera Australia soprano turned jazz queen, Ali McGregor, took to the stage for an upbeat version of Beyonce’s 'Single Ladies’ accompanied by an incorrigible group of scene stealing youngsters. It was a joyous performance that had the audience cheering and laughing.

Adelaide stalwart Carla Lippis served up Nancy Sinatra’s classic ‘Bang Bang’ in a pitch perfect rendition that channelled old blue eye’s daughter to a tee. A couple of people even jumped to their feet in the back row!

Former TV actor Tim Campbell revealed his love of eighties’ music with a medley of hit tunes, including a cheeky version of ‘Footloose’. It was all cheesy dancing and fist pumping theatrics – but a clear favourite with the opening night crowd.

Next up Lizzie Moore called up her inner Minogue sister to deliver a fabulous version of the INXS classic ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, belting out the song with gusto. Musical theatre chameleons Rachael Beck and Michael Cormick teamed up for a soaring ballad from Miss Saigon. Beck is clearly one the finest vocalists in musical theatre today, with a remarkable range – we really need to see more of her.

Perennial favourite Rhonda Burchmore took to the stage – just minutes after her own opening night show had finished – and regaled the audience with a mash up of Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ and Sinead’s ‘Nothing Compares To You’, proving she still has plenty of to give to this business they call show.

Cementing this fact, a surprised and emotional Burchmore was presented with The Adelaide Cabaret Festival Icon Award by Kate Ceberano, following in the footsteps of last year’s inaugural inductee Reg Livermore.

The acts continued to delight, with musical quartet Micheal Falzon, Matt Lee, Luke Kennedy and Ben Mingay delivering another highlight with an excerpt from their festival show Swing On This.

All the way from NYC, Aussie Kim Smith returned to the festival where he first made a name for himself, to deliver a rendition of  Pirate Jenny’s song  ‘The Black Freighter’ from the Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht classic Threepenny Opera.

Adding to the international appeal, Dutch cabaret star Sven Ratzke delighted audiences with a sexy performance of another Brecht classic, encouraging audience members to take part in the climactic moans.

Finally Melanie Safka wrapped up the show with rousing rendition of ‘Beautiful People’, a song made famous by her performance at Woodstock all those years ago, where she inspired the first panorama of candles and lighters raised at a concert event…

Ceberano’s tagline for this year’s festival is ‘not the usual suspects’ and last night’s Variety Gala proved while the faces may not all be familiar, the level of talent is immense. Ceberano is leaving the festival on a high – here’s hoping new festival director Barry Humphries can continue to keep the standard flying.

Check out the galleries from opening nght


Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and online editor of

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