Rollcall of Talent: Adelaide Cabaret Festival
With her first Cabaret Festival just days away, artistic director Kate Ceberano can hardly contain herself. She bubbled over with Peter Burdon.
“I think a lot of people in Adelaide don’t quite realise how big the Cabaret Festival has become,” says a smiling Kate Ceberano, flipping idly through a copy of the Festival Guide. “It really has become a beacon for Australian musicians from almost every field, and what it actually embraces under the umbrella of cabaret is part of the magic of this festival. It’s one of the many reasons I was so attracted by it. David Campbell has done a fantastic job in keeping the profile of the Festival up there, and the people at the Festival Centre are amazing, so it’s been a pretty exciting year.”
In fact, it’s now eighteen months since Ceberano’s appointment was first announced. “And not a moment too soon,” Kate says with a laugh, “It meant that I had a bit of a head start in thinking about the direction for 2012 and beyond. And with some of the international acts, you have to be thinking at least that far in advance, and we got lucky. We’ve got Eden Espinosa coming out to do a solo show. She’s done Wicked on Broadway and in LA and San Francisco, and she has the most beautiful voice. And another Broadway star is Sherie Rene Scott, who sings everything and by the way she’s really funny. And Ben Vereen, who has to count as a genuine Broadway legend, like Lea Salonga, who was the first Kim in Miss Saigon. And I’m really looking forward to Mary Wilson’s Stormy Weather which is all about Lena Horne. Mary was a founding member of The Supremes, for heaven’s sake!”
But that’s not to say for a moment that the home grown crop don’t stack up. “I think it’s actually the most diverse Cabaret Festival yet,” Kate says, “We’ve got Bernadette Robinson, who’s doing a one-woman play by Joanna Murray Smith that’s illustrated with songs. And Claire Bowditch making her Adelaide debut, she’s one of the best solo artists in Australia right now. The Snowdroppers are a blues outfit but with a pretty edgy twist, and they’re an amazing group live. Then there’s Justin Burford who’s just been a hit in Rock of Ages who’s doing a sort of tribute show to Kurt Cobain, who had a lot of much gentler music on the B sides and tucked away on the albums. And one you have to see is Angela Harding who won last year’s Cabaret Showcase. She’s the next big thing if you ask me.
A number of artists are returning for another run. “Eddie Perfect, who’s a great favourite in Adelaide, is bringing his show Misanthropology, which is as black as soot and very funny. And the amazing Kim Smith is coming back from the USA with a show called Misfit which only sold out in New York City. Katie Noonan is here with the world premiere of a new show she’s put together for Adelaide, and she’s going to have a string quartet and three circus artists on stage with her! And the beautiful Camille O’Sullivan is back with the Australian premiere of her show Feel which will have everything from Brel to Bowie. And I guess the big returning artist is Mark Nadler from New York. This will be his fifth Cabaret Festival and it’s getting hard to imagine one without him. He’ll be doing his own show, I’m a Stranger here Myself, and he’ll be helping me out at the Variety Gala and if I know Mark, he’ll be in the Festival Club, which we’re calling Backstage, every night!”
The European tradition has been an important part of the Cabaret Festival since its inception, and 2012 is no exception. “I’m so proud that we can present the Adelaide premiere of Nadeah,” Kate continues, “she’s originally a Melbourne girl who went off to the UK where she was in the LoveGods and now she’s based in Paris with the French group Nouvelle Vague which is huge in Europe. They’ve got a great fifties and sixties sound even though they do everything up to punk and postmodern stuff. It’s a great sound.”
The full program does read like a roll call of talent. “And the Backstage club will be great, too,” Kate says eagerly, “There’s a crazy mix of stuff in there every night of the Festival, from Boylesque to magic acts to improvised theatre. A bit of everything.” Which reminds me, the design of the Club is changing. “We’ve tossed and turned about how to make the Club a really happening part of the Festival. I mean, it’s always worked, but it tends to get crowded in the piano bar area, so we’ve decided to move into the Banquet Room which will open after the evening’s shows, while the other bars and the fabulous food stalls will be there earlier. And we’ve got one of Australia’s greatest designers, David Bromley, who’s doing a look for the whole Festival which we’re very excited about.”
And when do we get to see the Artistic Director herself? “I think I’ll let everyone else have the stage this time,” she says with a grin, “but you never know what might happen in the Club in the small hours!”
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival begins on Friday June 8. Check the program at adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au and book at Bass.