The Variety Gala @ Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Festival Theatre, Adelaide 25/3/2022

This year the Adelaide Cabaret Variety Gala was a little earlier than expected due to the clashing of June’s programming of another smash hit show Frozen The Musical but we didn’t mind! Coming off the Mad March season it was nice to continue with the festival spirit as Artistic Director Tina Arena has curated a spectacular line up for 2022. We were told to ‘Sparkle up, sit back and enjoy!’

The launch started with Welcome to Country by Isaac Hannam before the leading lady Tina Arena graced the stage to belt out her latest single Church and 90s hit Burn. What a voice, what a presence, she declared that we were in for the “cabaret ride of our life!”

The ride continued with host Paul McDermott while he started off steady, by the end of the night was on fire or I should say he was giving out the ‘burn’ factor! Who said you couldn’t make fun of minorities? Well ok, maybe just one group on this night. Luckily there were no anti-vaxxers allowed to this party! Bringing his unashamed, no holds barred comedy to hosting duties it was the mature aged crowd getting the biggest spray all night but the funniest was the hilariously silly Allan Ssssss-eale impression (if you know you know).

Former CDB lead singer Gary Pinto performed a smooth version of Feel It Don’t Fight It from his show Songs & Times of Sam Cook showing us why he’s an ARIA Award winning and multi-platinum selling recording artist!

Adelaide’s own Cabaret dark Queen Carla Lippis, another Italian powerhouse voice sang a sultry pulsating version of The Hand from the show How to Kill Your Husband (and other handy household hints).

Class of Cabaret has for the past decade given opportunities to the next generation of voices and Kieran Beasley after an unfortunate microphone glitch like a pro soldiered on in good humour to tell us his ‘sappy start’ into music. Singing his emotive version of Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are he showed exactly why he was the Class of Cabaret 2021 Graduate.

Adelaide really has the best talent when it comes to cabaret and Michael Griffiths definitely falls into that category paring up with Catherine Alcorn to provide a comedy skit 1930s speakeasy style before Alcorn sang a jazzy version of Phil Collin’s In The Air Tonight from her 30 Something show.

Talk about talent, Mitchell Butel showed us how versatile he is with not only directing tonight’s gala, he also performed a toe tapping version of Something’s Coming from his show Moments in the Woods – Songs and Stories of Sondheim.

Another local talent, Adelaide’s own Libby O’Donovan sang a Sister Elizabeth Medley of all songs ‘Godly’ from her show Sister Elizabeth. Singing “Are you ready for a miracle?” O’Donovan gave us all things ‘nun’ from the Edwin Hawkins Singers Oh Happy Days, to The Sound of Music’s Climb Every Mountain.

New Zealand born now Melbourne based singer Sophie Koh mixed 1930s jazz with modern day moody and broody for Radiohead’s song Creep featuring in some of her Chinese heritage by singing part of the lyrics in Mandarin. Her show The Shànghǎi MiMi Band Featuring Sophie Koh is one not to be missed!

Victoria Falconer, Parvyn, Erin Fowler, Jarrad Payne and Flick Freeman brought the bohemian harmonies with the song Go On from the show And Then You Go – The Vali Myers Project. Commissioned to present the works of Australian artist, dancer and muse Vali Myers, Falconer is the perfect artist to introduce to audiences who don’t know who Vali Myers was so put this show on your list!

Then back to the stage with Amelia Ryan and Michaela Burger was Michael Griffiths on piano giving us those New York Broadway vibes with a On Broadway / Brill Building Medley. What is it with these powerhouse vocals by the ladies tonight? The pocket rocket Helpmann Award Winner Michaela Burger belting out the Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. Talk about a voice! Wow!

We haven’t even finished yet….

Icon Award! This year’s recipient Libby O’Donovan has a resume list so long it could’ve been a show on its own! Tina Arena presented O’Donovan with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Icon Award and she couldn’t contain her excitement. Not sure if there was more excitement for her receiving the award or it being presented as she made sure to tell her mum who was in the audience to “Take a picture of me and Tina Arena!” A worthy winner!

Not just hosting, Paul McDermott along with his ‘plus one’ guitarist sang a very fitting and complimentary (McDermott style) tribute to our very own Prime Minister Morrison with his song Jenny. Even getting the audience to sing along to the catchy line ‘Jenny and the girls’ with hilarious results.

After a night with such high quality talent how do you end the night? You bring on the Queen herself. The Queen of Pop, yes, for those too young to remember, she was crowned Australia’s Queen of Pop. Singing Love Me Like A Rock from her show The Gospel According to Marcia was Marcia Hines. This Queen still has power vocals and its an honour to be able to watch her perform anytime, anywhere.

It’s a great line up of artist and shows so Grab Ya Tix now!

And that was the 2022 Adelaide Cabaret Festival The Variety Gala folks!

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Variety Gala Review By Anastasia Lambis

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