The Variety Gala @ Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Festival Theatre, Adelaide 11/6/2021

Its Adelaide Cabaret Festival time and The Variety Gala kicked off the start to the sixteen days of festivities with a big German bang! Our very own Hans the International Superstar hosted a three-hour extravaganza with his cheeky quick wit and razor sharp sledging that only en-Hans-ed the excitement of a cold winters night. The weather certainly didn’t stop the who’s who of Adelaide all coming out in their glitz and glamour to walk the red carpet for a glimpse of the 2021 line-up of cabaret stars.

After a serious Welcome to Ceremony by Isaac Hannam he then walked off stage to come back with a bright green sleeveless faux fur overcoat to blend in with the cabaret vibes. A bar surrounded by small tables and chairs were placed around the stage like you were in a small Parisian cabaret club. Creative Director Alan Cummings started off the evening then declared the 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival opened. Host Hans joined Cummings singing Willkommen from Cabaret on stage breaking into his own version with a hilarious German/French accent before introducing all the cabaret queens on stage. With so many talented artists all in the one room it was Adelaide legend Anne ‘Willsy’ Wills of course that got the loudest cheer.

The first half of the Gala was a ball of energy. Trevor Ashley gave the gala the ultimate Cabaret signature with his Liza Minnelli performance, magician James Galea sang the hilariously risqué song Are All Magicians Gay? from his POOF! Secrets of a Magician show, Mama Alto sang her heart out on Round Midnight and then her own unique version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Jan van de Stool showed us her ‘musical therapist’ session with a hilarious version of Let It Go from Frozen. What a comic and what a voice! van de Stool claimed that Cabaret artists are ‘unusual freaks’ and that’s a pretty accurate description for the amazing talent on show.

Hans brought the disco to the Cabaret with his Boogie Wonderland performance and Steph Tisdell while not a cabaret performer gave us the laughs with her brash and unapologetic comedy and solid attempt at and improvised song. The Sisters of Invention, Adelaide’s own all-female disability pop group performed their fresh catchy pop sounds wowing the crowd.

How can it be a Variety Gala without an appearance by The Queen? Gerry Connolly brought the very unorthodox regal touch much to the audience’s approval. Luckily ‘she’ was staying close by at the ‘Incontinent’ Hotel and also making sure she versed up on the ShitAdelaide (Just Adelaide Things) Instagram account to be informed with all the latest on Adelaide. Her Majesty then declared “whatever the fuck this is” open!

Michael Griffiths had a mandatory audience participation clause in his performance with everyone requiring to sing “Run, run, run, run run” of the Eurythmics Thorn in My Side. Griffiths is always a joyful addition to the festival.

After the interval Hans came back on an electric motorise hoverboard singing Xanadu backed up with legends Willsy and Bob Downe. Name a better trio… I’ll wait! Dressed in glittery gold track suit, Bob rolled in on a scooter and Willsy on a walking frame. It was like seeing the Salt n Pepa for the golden age audience. And Willsy still rocks a shorty short dress, big earrings and high boots!

The special part of the night was the presentation of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Icon Award and much to his surprise the brilliant Paul Capsis was the worthy recipient. Singing the classic Amy Winehouse Black in Black he was very humble in his acceptance and later in the night his sombre version of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Brendan McLean from the L’Hotel show brought the electro pop to cabaret with the Christine and the Queens song People, I’ve Been Sad while Tim Minchin gave us a song about trying not to have sex with other people. Meow Meow performed on the big screen courtesy of the Melbourne lockdown restrictions accompanied on piano from Mark Ferguson and his live band. Amber Martin flew in all the way from New York to sing her rendition of Bette Midler’s song Friends and original song Bermuda from the movie How to Talk to Girls at Parties.

With so many costume changes during the night to make even Beyonce question if she has enough in her shows Hans showed off his sliver/pink hot pants, green hot pants then venturing into the long blue and silver glittery outfits. Glitter! Glitter! Glitter! My darlings! So, it’s only fitting that he ended the night with the right song for the audience demographic; The Angels Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again.

And that was the 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival The Variety Gala folks!

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Review By Anastasia Lambis

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