Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night.
The Banquet Room. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 9-11 2023.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
With Ali McGregor as your host, you know that you are in for a great night of cabaret and headline acts at the Ali McGregor Late-Nite Variety Nite Night. As the audience rolls in from other shows and clutching their glasses of wine, you can feel the buzz in the Banquet Room, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s late night venue. The room is packed, the hype is high and Ali McGregor sweeps onto the stage wearing a stole and with Sam Keevers on piano and a backing jazz combo launches into a jazz version of Gloria James’s Tainted Love. It is the perfect song for a late night audience and a perfect opener for a lineup of top cabaret performers starting with Carmen Maria Vega from French group Paris Combo singing the songs of late lead singer Belle du Barry to the moody sounds of a trumpet solo that one could imagine echoing through the nighttime streets of Paris.
|Jess Love performs with Hula Hoops|
McGregor shifts the mood with a delicious sense of comic timing as she swallows a mouthful of the dubious Pop Rock- not the fsion genre but the candy with a distinctive crunch, just right for her powerful rendition of Sonny Bono’s Bang Bang before introducing the ebullient Virginia Gay with her version of Claire Bowditch’s The One as a song of repressed desire. Gay accompanies the song with her story of opportune intervention when the door handle came off in her hand at a moment of perfect comic timing while trying to escape temptation.
At her first Adelaide Cabaret Festival, jazz singer Nina Ferro gives a soulful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s Baby Sweet Baby before Jess Love offers a completely unexpected surprise with a whirling hula hoop display and disrobing to get down to the bare essentials of body swirling of five hoops. Love is a ring-in who certainly knows how to get the attention! Her skill as a hula hooper extraordinaire defies her Buster Keaton deadpan expression
As the final guest, the irrepressible Eddie Perfect introduces the audience to a new work that he is creating with collaborator Robert Horne, an adaptation of Christmas Carol with a Scrooge character who is the CEO of a company that makes Christmas lights that die after use, forcing people to buy new ones for the following Christmas. People live on an island of plastics and discarded waste and Perfect yet again leaves us with food for thought with his original song Garbage Island, island of garbage and dreams.
McGregor brings her night of variety to an intimate close as she asks the audience to take out their phones and spotlight her as she moves through the room to Queen’s Somebody to Love. She loves her audience and they return the love at the midnight hour after a banquet of cabaret delights.
Photos by Claudio Rascella