Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2023 Variety Gala

Cabaret Festival Gala 2023Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Festival Theatre. 9 Jun 2023


Stomping, stand-up acclaim.

What a sensational night kicked off the 2023 Adelaide Cabaret Festival - an historic night which set a five-star benchmark.

State Theatre Company Director Mitchel Butel directed a pack of ex CabFest directors expertly threading together a razzle dazzle night of triumphant excellence. 


And, in its 50th year, the Festival Theatre bloomed and blossomed in a showcase of technical brilliance. Talk about production values. Impeccable. And, rightly, a wild cheer went up when sound supremo Jane Rosetto’s name was called. From the word go, that creamy quality of sound was noted. And the stage lighting, with the MD Mark Ferguson’s band up there cleverly illuminated with the great symbolic chandelier aloft and, thanks to design legend Kathryn Sproul, a celebratory hanging gallery of CabFest posters.


Then there were the star turns. 

The stars, those accomplished performers who have been CabFest directors, each had their own nostalgic and/or showcase performance segments. 

Ali McGregor! Oh, did she take us to the high spots. Vivid in a frock gathered with a sparkling diamente brooch, she showed that she can belt out a big, blindingly brilliant song. She was a wow moment.

But not the only one.

It was wow all over the place.

That darling Kate Ceberano, singularly beloved as a CabFest director and all round bloody good spirit, took the audience to another great height of breathless admiration. David Campbell was a medley of effusive “wow” songs. The man can “give" and audience hearts were bursting in response.

And, as if they had not burst enough, there was the inimitable Meow Meow with an exquisite tribute to former CabFest director, the late lamented and oh, so revered Barry Humphries. In his honour, wearing red stilettos Barry had given her, she celebrated one of his lifelong fascinations, the Weimar era, by delivering, with absolute finesse, a magnificent Frederick Hollander work. The audience swooned. 


Voices from the ether. Vocal acrobatics. What a sterling range of art.

How does Sarah-Louise Young sing Kate Bush better than Kate Bush? Hilariously, that is how. In a wild-wings costume with a pastiche of stereotypical moves. 


For, this gala night also was a tasting plate of the 2023 CabFest program and it had one lusting to see it all. 

Eddie Perfect, composer, actor, satirist, generous spirited and modest superstar also a former CabFest director, swanned around with charm and then let loose his diabolically bloodthirsty Kill the Critics song. Nastee! Five-star nastee. You will burn in hell, beautiful boy.


There were classic moments; Vice Jones and Nina Ferro proffered a taste of classy jazz. Mark Trevorrow and our adored mistress of bling, Anne Wills, sampled their evergreen Adelaide Tonight fare. Julia Holt paid right and proper tribute to father of the CabFest, Frank Ford and Julia Zemiro did, well, Julia Zemiro.


And, throughout the night, Virginia Gay earned the audience’s love, not only with her beautifully modulated speaking and lyrical pipes but also her warmly affectionate inclusiveness as MC.


Is anyone omitted?


Only Hans.

Our German megastar has earned an almost unprecedentedly massive rollicking and effusive fan base in this city. And around the country. Even in the USA. Back in the shimmering spangled outfits his mum makes for him and after his fearsome brush with death on a cruise ship, he turned up the heat with his Lucky Bitches dancers, everything so well-rehearsed - except for the big surprise of the night.


Who? Me? Yes. You. You good thing, you! 

It was his crowning as an Icon. Icon of CabFest 2023 - and into the history books he goes.

Talking of which, it will be a very long time before an Adelaide audience leaves the theatre on a high like this one!

What a night, What a night!


Samela Harris


When: 9 Jun

Where: Festival Theatre

Bookings: Closed