Thursday, December 17, 2020



Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021. 

Artistic Director  Alan Cumming.  Adelaide Festival Centre. June 11-26 2021.

Previewed by Peter Wilkins

Artistic Director Alan Cumming 


Any lover of cabaret, fan of the TV legal series, The Good Wife or viewer of  Britain’s Who Do You Think You Are will be thrilled to learn that Tony Award winning actor, Alan Cumming has been appointed Artistic Director of the 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Following in the footsteps of such cabaret luminaries as David Campbell, Kate Ceberano, Ali McGregor, Eddie Perfect and Julia Zemiro, Cumming promises to return the nation’s leading cabaret festival to its previous pre-pandemic glory. “To be asked to come and curate Adelaide Cabaret Festival after this missing year, to be able to bring together the most vibrant of the world’s cabaret performers, to ask them to entertain us, provoke us, make sense of the maelstrom we’re living through, and most of all remind us why cabaret is such a vital form of connection between performer and audience – well it doesn’t get much better!”

And who better to make it all happen from June 11th. – 26th. at the Adelaide Festival Centre and the newly renovated Her Majesty’s Theatre where Cumming performed his one man cabaret show at Julia Zemiro’s 2019 festival? A glimpse at Cumming’s professional career provides a staggering array of achievements. Apart from stage and film and TV appearances by the scores, Cumming has also published five books, hosted the Tonys, won the Emmys, sung in concert halls across the globe and received over forty awards for his humanitarianism and social activism. Of his last concert tour, Billboard said “He’s an icon to behold – he is unapologetically himself, and with a talent like that, he has no need to apologize.”

Selina Jenkins in Boobs
 As if such accolades were not enough to convince aficionados to book their travel to Adelaide next June, Cumming has just released the first six shows of his exciting programme as a teasing taste of cabaret treats to come. First up will be the world premiere of Cumming’s brand-new show, Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age. For one performance only, this thrilling evening of story and song will close the festival on what is certain to be a triumphant note.

The Famous Spiegeltent makes a welcome return as the venue for Club Cumming. Until 2 a.m. each weekend evening, patrons can indulge in a feast of hedonistic delights, live performances and raucous Cumming DJ sets. Any suggestion that Adelaide is the staid old city of churches and gardens is sure to be blown out of the nearby River Torrens as Cumming’s touch of New York sets the city alight.

Hans  Photo: Claudio Raschella

In a blaze of synchronicity, the Adelaide Festival Variety Gala will celebrate its 21st anniversary in 2021. The event will be hosted by none other than Adelaide’s international star of camp, the amazing, outrageous and uniquely ostentatious Hans. The red carpet will roll out for festival folk dressed in their cabaret finery on the opening night of June 11th.

The Space Theatre at the Festival Centre will be transformed into a French hotel, brimming with bohemian verse for the first two weeks of the festival. While partaking of French champagne and a delectable French cheeseboard at L’Hotel audiences can be entertained by a line-up of cabaret artists, circus performers and sensual burlesque artistes.

Audiences who can remember Reg Livermore’s astounding performance as Betty Blokkbuster in 1975 that took Australia by storm must not miss musical theatre and TV star Josh Quong Tart in this iconic role when a re-imagined version of Betty Blokkbuster hits the cabaret festival stage. Nearly fifty years on the has-beens, battlers, freaks and survivors of this legendary theatre work still remain for a new generation to see through the probing and provocative eyes of the cabaret.

Billed as a “ground-breaking tale of mammary proportions” Selina Jenkins’s Boobs pushes the boundaries of what cabaret can be  as Jenkins faces the quandaries and dilemmas of a woman’s journey through life.

 Cumming’s programme reflects the daring and inventive decisions compelled by the pandemic. Forced to resort to live streaming, Julia Zemiro’s Cabaret Festival and Annette Shun Wah’s OzAsia Festival were both compromised but encouraged to lead the way in digital programming. Cumming may well be encouraged to highlight the abundant talent that Australia has to applaud. “The restrictions COVID-19 has placed on our plans has actually been a positive in terms of my desire for the focus of Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021: the spotlight is firmly on Australian Cabaret and talent.”

Cumming’s appointment as the Artistic Director of the 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival has been a coup for the festival board and a boon for cabaret lovers throughout the country. Cumming also delights in the fact that he has been asked to lead the festival, hopefully, out of the pandemic that saw the cancellation of so many festivals during 2020. He obviously has real affection for Australia and Australian artists. “I first came to Adelaide over thirty years ago and have always loved the welcome I received here.” he said. “And of course cabaret  with a big and small c has always been very close to my heart.”

Previous Adelaide Cabaret Festival, the wonderful Julia Zemiro, gives audiences a taste of what’s to come when she says, “Your new AD is going to blow your minds. I can’t wait.”

Adelaide Cabaret Festival

June 11-26 2021


BASS 131 246

The full programme will be released in March 2021