Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The Famous Spiegeltent. 18 Jun 2021
It’s close up and personal, masked, marvellous and just a bit surreal. Who would ever have imagined Adelaide Tonight in a mirrored circus tent perched on the Torrens slopes? That old TV variety show of yore was ever within the bounds of a fairly clinical studio set. Now, a lifetime later, it crowds onto a super-busy little cabaret stage in a dazzle of bling and riotous good spirit.
How could it be otherwise in the hands of two of the country’s most beloved and evergreen entertainers! Willsy’s a proud 77 and Bob Downe a toyboy at 62. Peerlessly as good old showbiz buddies, they can belt out a song or two, hit the harmonies, crack a joke, slip in some innuendo, and bathe in a glory of nostalgia.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the show. Willsy dazzles in a series of seriously sequinned mini dresses and Bob shimmers in his golden polyester crimplene/boucle jumpsuit and defies the tiny, wee girth of the stage’s performance space, to show that he is just a gorgeous mover.
Of course, since Adelaide Tonight was always a variety show, they have a few guest stars.
And they’re big names. Cabaret cream.
First up, Jeff Duff sparkles out in the tiniest spaceman hot-pants jumpsuit ever devised. With his skinny long legs, white Minnie Mouse shoes and pancake makeup, he looks like a marionette. This man has made quite a footprint on the Aussie pop landscape over quite a few decades and, when he opens his mouth to sing David Bowie, one knows why. He is a powerhouse, with a wonderful voice proving a strong emotional engagement with his lyrics and yet… it really is a very odd costume and one’s mind bends at the oddity of it all.
The next guest act is John O’Hara whose CabFest show, #Val - A Campfire Kiki with Mother, suffered the interstate travel sorrows of cancellation. He’s whizzed over from Perth to do some snatches of the show on Adelaide Tonight. In utter contrast to Duffo, O’Hara’s costume reflects himself as a sleek modern style icon. Self-proclaimed as an “Australian National Treasure”, he is young, lean, oozing self-confidence, and he sings with panache.
Star of the guest stars is Liza Minnelli, well, the Liza one has when one can’t have Liza, and a very big and funny Liza she is, albeit her real name is Trevor Ashley. She is hot, wild, and a bundle of taut energy. Her stiletto heel stamps on the floor as she throws the mic from hand to hand and belts out show tunes in a throaty, vocal storm. She’s a vivid and arresting pastiche, and perhaps another national treasure.
Just as in the old days, Adelaide Tonight is an hour-long show. It is fast and fun. The Sam Leske band does everyone proud. It’s a very nice Adelaide outfit shining brightly in the CabFest spotlight. The TV monitors at either side of the stage show classic old-school TV ads: tasty tuna, and oh look, there’s Ernie Sigley with a lawnmower.
And, just for good measure and since there’s no room for a big wheel, there is a “barrel girl” prize at the end of the night.
The lovely night. Something old. Something new. Plenty blue.
They’re on for another week with a fresh set of guest stars every night. Take Aunty Flo and go.
When: 18 to 26 Jun
Where: The Famous Spiegeltent