Story: Kate’s debut Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Kate Ceberano has announced her first Adelaide Cabaret Festival line-up including acclaimed international, national and local artists in her debut year as Artistic Director.

The program, which was launched on Saturday the 31st of March at the Adelaide Festival Centre saw invited guests and supporters fill the Adelaide Festival Theatre for the annual launch event.

The 2012 program features 110 international artists from the USA, UK, Canada, France, Ireland and the best from Australia with 194 Australian artists, 110 of those South Australian performers. Showcasing eight World premieres, seven Australian premieres and 20 Adelaide premieres, the vibrant program also features 12 international shows, many of which are exclusive to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

The Festival runs from the 8th to the 23rd of June this year and uses a range of spaces in and around the Adelaide Festival Centre. Ceberano’s program builds on the Festival’s reputation for excellence, not only through its stellar performers, but also with a design that matches its international reputation. Kate is working with renowned Australian artist and good friend David Bromley who has been engaged as Festival Designer, to enhance some of the performance spaces, interiors and public areas by providing an overarching aesthetic and visual texture for the Festival.

In the Festival’s 12 year history, attendances have more than doubled since its inception in 2001. The 2011 Cabaret Festival broke all previous box office records, achieving an estimated 95,000 attendances.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director Kate Ceberano says, “I would like to extend an invitation to come to Adelaide and experience the drama, glamour, and up close and personal nature of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. I hope it will corrupt, provoke and thrill audiences and encourage show-goers to be wild and fabulous. Don’t miss out on Cabaret 2012, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.”

“The Festival features an eclectic mix of performers from Australia and around the globe. Discover the newest Cabaret talent along with a selection of the world’s leading singer/songwriters, living legends and icons and some old favourites. We’ve just about covered all cabaret bases from comedy, satire, contemporary, rock, pop, blues, soul, swing, gypsy jazz, the Broadway classics, whimsical numbers and most importantly, the artists who will take you on their own personal journeys”.


Opening this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival in the elegant Festival Theatre is Adelaide’s night of nights: the Variety Gala Performance on Friday 8 June. Guests will walk the red carpet and witness a selection of incredibly talented cabaret artists from this year’s program.  Hosted by Kate Ceberano and Mark Nadler, the Gala will provide audiences with a snapshot of some of the highlights of this year’s Festival.

In an Australian Premiere performance, leading lady of Broadway and the West End Lea Salonga will perform in the Festival Theatre. The singer and actress best known for her Tony Award winning role in Miss Saigon and as the voice of Princess Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin will perform a musical tour through her career. Audiences will be blown away by the power of her stunning vocals.

Two other artists in the Festival Theatre include acclaimed UK comedian, actor, writer, TV presenter, radio host and all-round Renaissance man Lenny Henry and the versatile and legendary Broadway performer Ben Vereen. In his show Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen and backed by a 12 piece band, Ben will dazzle audiences with his unique artistry that combines a tribute to Broadway, Frank Sinatra and a very special homage to Sammy Davis Jr. Meanwhile, Lenny will be injecting a dose of comedy into the closing weekend with his one-man show Cradle To Rave, the story of Lenny’s lifelong love affair with music.

The Festival Theatre Stage is a unique venue, perfect for those who like their cabaret up close and personal. The Stage plays host to Australian ex-pat Nadeah who is best known globally for her performances with French supergroup Nouvelle Vague. Nadeah will live out her motto, ‘whatever happens, make something good of it,’ on stage in her show Venus Gets Even.

You’ll want to catch more than a glimpse of Kane Alexander, best known for the lead roles he’s performed on the musical stage and his touring days with pop Superstars Il Divo. All I Know is an elegant and sophisticated entertainment experience for the cabaret connoisseur.

Australian legend Don Walker will steer you down the road in his show Tales from the Landsborough Highway, an hour of song and stories from the man himself backed by his five piece band the Suave F***’s, with a guest appearance from Adelaide harmonica player David Blight.

The Stage will light up with fire and ice, darkness and joy when Irish chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan takes you on an intense and theatrical journey in her show Feel.

Two of the most successful and influential songwriters in Australian rock history – brothers Rick and John Brewster present Brothers, Angels and Demons. A flashback journey through tales and adventures from Australian rock history and stories from the road.

Wander down the pathway to the intimate Dunstan Playhouse, playing host to both traditional cabaret stars and exciting contemporary collaborations. Marvel at Mary Wilson, a founding member of Motown’s The Supremes, as she struts her stuff performing Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project, portraying Hollywood’s first African-American goddess, from her reign at MGM’s ‘Dream Factory’ to a fabled night club seductress and civil rights icon.  Stormy Weather is a living, breathing biography based on the book by James Gavin.

In a Cabaret Festival World Premiere Eden Espinosa, most recognised for her portrayal of Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked, will step into the spotlight on the Playhouse stage.  Australian Sharon Millerchip performs another World Premiere Marlene Pop Diva a hilarious homage to Marlene Dietrich in pop.

Australian icon and superlative storyteller Troy Cassar-Daly takes his first foray into cabaret when he performs the World Premiere A Life’s Story In Song. Sharing the songs that have shaped his life as a person and a musician, this will be an unforgettable evening. Another World Premiere performance, Love-Song-Circus will fuse the sumptuous vocals and compositions of Katie Noonan with three female acrobatic aerialists from Australia’s internationally acclaimed contemporary circus Circa. The talented ensemble will be joined on stage by the Tulipwood String Quartet.

Renowned Australian singer/songwriter Tim Freedman presents an evening of grand pianos, sweet melodies along with his sardonic pointed opinions in Fireside Chat, also at the Playhouse.

In an Australian Premiere, acclaimed Broadway actress, singer and Tony Award nominee Sherie Rene Scott steps off the Broadway stage and into the Playhouse to present her eclectic music and musings. This charming comedienne is not to be missed.

An impressive ensemble of Australian performers will pay homage to David Bowie in Ziggy – The Songs of David Bowie. The show is a theatrically inspired musical journey into the stardust-filled scrapbook of the man and his music, and features three of the finest voices in the world of contemporary music Jeff Duff, Steve Balbi and Brydon Stace.

Helpmann Award winning comedian, composer and performer and all-time Cabaret favourite Eddie Perfect will be ripping it up on the Playhouse stage as he presents his latest darkly satirical musical work Misanthropology.

Australia's Homegrown Houdini, Cosentino - The Grand Illusionist, will be performing death defying stunts and incredible illusions in an Adelaide Cabaret Festival first. The Merlin Award winner and Helpmann Award nominee will invoke intimate magic mysteries and intense escapes that will astound audiences and distort their perception of reality.

If you’ve ever given a collection of songs to someone you care about, then Johanna Allen can sympathise. Join Adelaide’s favourite daughter of musical theatre for her performance Mixtape: a twisted, dark and funny compilation of Johanna’s favourite songs.

A selection of some of the Australia’s hottest new performers and legends will perform in the Space Theatre. Experience one of Australia’s most cherished artists in an intimate setting when Debra Byrne performs Ripe, a showcase of her most memorable moments from her theatre career.

One of Australia’s most highly regarded performers Jack Charles will engage you in an evening of songs from his 1940s childhood through to a blues version of Oodgeroo Noonuccal's poem Son of Mine. Don’t miss Music from the Stage Production, JACK CHARLES V THE CROWN.

Melbourne indie soul singer Paris Wells performs Projected exclusively with her live band. Also hailing from Melbourne are the smokin’ hot hipster husbands of performance art, The Suitcase Royale who will present the Adelaide Premiere of The Ballad of Backbone Joe.

Join Festival Designer David Bromley as he collaborates with his longtime friend and singer-songwriter Brian Cadd in A Brush With Keys. This unique collaboration will see David create a new artwork live on stage, while Brian entertains and inspires on piano.

Australian music legend Tex Perkins will showcase songs from his new album along with his band The Dark Horses – comprising of Charlie Owen, Joel Silbersher and two new members, bassist Steve Hadley and drummer Gus Agars. Another celebrated Australian, sweet songstress Clare Bowditch, is seeking happiness in her show Tells A True Story Or Two.

For those who like their cabaret wild, loud and dirty, then the four man punk-soul-gutter-blues tour de force, The Snowdroppers are for you. Be the first to experience Quebec’s finest gypsy jazz trio The Lost Fingers in their Australian Premiere performances exclusive to Adelaide. The trio perform witty and jazzed-up renditions of nostalgic 80s hits.

The Artspace is a hub for cutting edge cabaret and includes a variety of contemporary artists alongside the traditional. See New York based Australian Kim Smith perform Weimar inspired Misfit, an Australian Premiere where he charts a dark and whimsical path through a ruined musical landscape of disfigured pop and peculiar period treasures.

Tipping her top hat to cabaret in an Adelaide Premiere is the darling of the New York cabaret scene – Australian expat Emma Dean. Her one woman show Stripped features her Top 15 indie US radio hit Sincerely Fearful.

South Australian company Various People Inc present the World Premiere of The Velvet Gentleman: the odd story of Erik Satie. This performance will transport show-goers to twentieth century Paris and the curious world of eccentric composer and cabaret pianist Erik Satie. 

Indulge your inner nerd with the award-winning smash hit of the 2011 Sydney Fringe, LadyNerd – Keira Daley’s funny, fact-packed cabaret tribute to some of history’s greatest minds. Be surprised by one-woman orchestra Zoe Keating’s Adelaide Premiere performances as she uses a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layer upon layer of cello, creating intricate, haunting and compelling music.

Angela Harding is Australia’s newest cabaret sensation, winning the 2011 Australian Cabaret Showcase. This talented singer/songwriter weaves together original tunes with some well known favourites in her show Just Like You…Only Different!

The hilarious, fiercely poetic and multi-award winning Tommy Bradson takes audiences back to the early 80s to follow his ‘groupie mother’ in the shadows of rock ’n roll. In the world Premiere The Men My Mother Loved, Bradson looks to the rocker front men as the father he never had, singing gems from Chisel, INXS, Nick Cave and Australian Crawl.

The Banquet Room is home to the diverse, the divine and the entertaining in this year’s Festival, and will also host the late night club named Backstage. Designed by David Bromley, Backstage will be an eclectic mix of all the best that the Cabaret Festival has to offer with regular appearances by a variety of Cabaret Festival artists, dancers and DJs.

In an exceptional World Premiere performance, former End Of Fashion front-man and star of Rock of Ages, Justin Burford takes on the legacy of rock legend Kurt Cobain in Kurt. (LISTEN TO THE BAREFOOT INTERVIEW WITH BURFORD HERE)

Swing Time With The Andrew Sisters will have you reliving all the memorable hits of WWII from one of the most successful female vocal groups in popular music.

Australia’s favourite musical comedy trio Tripod finally decide it’s time to grow up in their new show Men of Substance. This Adelaide Premiere showcases their journey from a scorching charismageddon to craggy fugitives – all in three-part harmony, of course!

Internationally acclaimed cabaret entertainer and all-time Adelaide Cabaret Festival favourite Mark Nadler is back, this time exploring the depths of the German Expatriate experience in I’m a Stranger Here Myself. In addition, the charismatic New Yorker will reprise his hit Broadway Hootenanny – get ready to be surprised by special guest appearances.

Be sure to check your prudishness at the door when Virginia Gay storms into the Artspace with Dirty Pretty Songs. Taking cheerful pop tunes and giving them a depraved edge, this show is part cabaret and part exposé.

In a special Cabaret Festival event at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Australian actress Bernadette Robinson transforms before your eyes as she plays multiple roles in Songs for Nobodies, by Joanna Murray-Smith. Robinson brings to life some of the most iconic female singers of the twentieth century, including Judy Garland and Edith Piaf. This critically acclaimed show has played to sold out audiences interstate and comes to Adelaide for a strictly limited season.

High School students made their debut appearance at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2010 under the nurturing guidance of 2009 to 2011 Artistic Director David Campbell. This year a new class of 30 cabaret students from 15 secondary schools from across the state will share their stories through music in Class of Cabaret 2012.  This program is supported by CentreEd and The Department for Education and Child Development.

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier says “Under the artistic leadership of celebrated songstress and self-proclaimed South Australian, Kate Ceberano, the 12th Adelaide Cabaret Festival promises to take you to new and exotic places.  For two weeks in June the best cabaret artists from around the world will converge on Adelaide for a winter celebration of intimate performances,“

Adelaide Festival Centre’s youth arts membership program GreenRoom have a range of special offers to Adelaide Cabaret Festival for 16 and 30 year olds, including heavily discounted tickets to a variety of shows, as well as the free Artist Talk ‘How to get your show up’ with the creative team of the show Kurt (Saturday 9 June, Banquet Room). Sign up to GreenRoom in April and receive a free mystery ticket to an Adelaide Cabaret Festival performance. For more information visit

Full program and tickets are on sale now and program details are available in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival brochure. Get one free by calling the Adelaide Cabaret Hotline on (08) 8216 8901 or go to



When: 8 to 23 June
Where: The Adelaide Festival Centre
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or or via