Sunday, June 11, 2017


Edde Perfect and Ali McGregor host the Variety Gala Performance

Variety Gala Performance.

Directed by Richard Carroll. Musical direction by Michael Tyack. Her Majesty’s Theatre. Adelaide Cabaret Festival June 9 and 10. 2017.

  Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

 The Age of Variety is alive and well at this year’s Variety Gala Performance of the 2017 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Co-artistic Directors, Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect have dished up a delightful degustation of festival treats to tantalize every palate. Whether you love comedy, music theatre, pop or drag, there is something in this festival to tempt every taste. Variety Performances are no easy ride through the night’s entertainment. Artists are given generally one shot at the chosen performance piece, often out of context with the rest of their show, and inviting an audience to love the moment. And at this year’s Variety gala Performance, the audience happily went along for the feast

And what a ride it was, a showcase of festival gems, sparkling with the talents of local, national and international cabaret artists. Some like iconic drag star, Carlotta, and comedienne and singer Dillie Keane are troupers extraordinaire with decades of experience under their belt.. Some like Michael Griffiths and Naomi Price are the stars of tomorrow, and the young aspiring cabaret performers of the Class of Cabaret lend golden promise of a bright future to the diverse art of cabaret.
 What better way o start the evening’s entertainment than a parade down the aisles by the Boys in Dtag, Briefs, who launch into a tribal dance, complete with reed fans and South Sea Island  costume. Eddie Perfect and Ali McGregor with peacock plumed headdress take up the hosting with a glittering array of tasty morsels to whet the appetite for more. Let me briefly invite you to savour the rich and delicious spread. Perfect sings Welcome to a Show About Death from his Broadway musical Beetlejuice. He is accompanied by jazz pianist legend, Joe Chimudo and the Lazy Susan Band.The Three Mikados, Colin Lane, David Collins and Amy G put tongue whipping pitter into their patter song in true G and S style.  Christie Whelan-Browne is another shining star and shows it with her song from Steve Vizard’s musical Vigil. Watch out for this one.. And for something entirely different camp New York Funny Man, Murray Hill conducts a dance challenge with three stooges from the audience. Audience love nothing more than laughing at the discomfort and clumsy antics of the unsuspecting.
For me the highlight of the night, was being served up Ali McGregor, flying in from the Flies with a splendid rendition of Jaques Brel’s Carousel, which gathered whirling tempo on the stage. Michael Roulston and Sarah-Louise Young lend a garnish of cynicism with their number We’re Not A Perfect Match from their show Songs For Cynics. Comedienne and singer Dillie Keane proves you’re never too old in spite of the cracking knees and bone clicking back. Meanwhile King’s Cross’s Diva of Drag, the amazing Carlotta shows that this old showgirl can survive with Stephen Sondheim’s I’m  Still Here”,wth lyrics arranged by David Mitchell to suit a life well lived.
Perfect shifts the menu with a beautiful rendition on the piano of Quiet  from Tim Minchin’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, currently wowing Adelaide Audiences at the Festival Centre. At te piano, singer and comedienne Gillian Cosgrove faces her fears with a salutary warning against all addictions and secret phobias. Hers is an original and timely tune. I’m not sure that we should have then sampled Naomi Price’s Eleanor Rigby from her show about the Fab Four, Lady Beatle. It is a fabulous version and Price brings every bit of pain and longing to her rendition. I had seen her marvelous show that afternoon, and it is always a tough call for any of the artists to extract one piece as a variety showpiece in an evening of such eclectic choices. Price was able to let herself go when accompanying Michael Griffiths in a medley of Minogue songs from Lucky: Songs By Kylie..
All too soon, the show came to a close as the artists joined the beaming Class of Cabaret to farewell the audience and send them out into the chilly Adelaide night with tunes humming and spinning through the brain and thoughts turned to the artists they may now clamour to see. It has been a night true to the spirit of Variety, a tempting taste of cabaret’s delectable pleasures. The suspended upturned tables and chairs remind us that at this Cabaret Festival, the tables are indeed turning and whatever your taste, whatever your politics, sexuality, creed and sense of humour, there will be a chair for you to sit at to savour the dish that suits your diet. Tonight’s glimpse of this year’s fare shows that cabaret is indeed alive and well with offerings too good to resist and talent to dazzle and delight.