Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2024

Adelaide Cabaret Festival has announced its 2024 line-up, the first programmed by new Artistic Director Virginia Gay.

The 12-night program for the 24th festival will feature 79 performances – 17 of them world premieres – and appearances by artists from the US, United Kingdom and New Zealand, plus Australia’s best contemporary cabaret acts.

“Cabaret is beguiling in its simplicity,” said Gay, who took over the Artistic Directorship in June 2023. “It’s stories into song, right? Simple! But magic. So, we’ve tried to see how elastic that formula can be.”

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director Virginia Gay. Photo © Claudio Raschella

“Adelaide Cabaret Festival is known by audiences and stars the world over. Little footprint, giant heart. That’s us,” said Gay. “Performances pour off the stage and into the foyer afterwards, and there you are, in your glad rags, belting out songs, laughing, flirting, and drinking champagne. This festival is what I want the whole world to feel like – a celebration of community and abundance, togetherness through individuality, in all its sparkling joy.”

The cork on the 2024 festival will be popped at Adelaide Festival Centre on 7 June with the traditional Variety Gala in the Festival Theatre. Gay will serve as host.

Patti Lupone. Photo © Douglas Friedman

The Festival headliner is without doubt the three-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, who will perform the Australian debut of her new concert, A Life in Notes, at the Festival Theatre on 19 June. And in an Adelaide exclusive, Lisa Simone will present Keeper of the Flame and perform some of the classic music composed and played by her mother, the jazz and soul great Nina Simone (22 June).

A celebration of the legacy of the late Olivia Newton-John will be presented in a special concert at Festival Theatre. Hopelessly Devoted will star David Campbell (who performed with Olivia Newton-John at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2011), Jess Hitchcock, Georgina Hopson, Christie Whelan Browne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and feature hits from Grease, Xanadu and Newton-John’s best-selling singles.

Direct from the UK, cabaret-comedy veterans Fascinating Aïda will present the Australian premiere of the trio’s The 40th Anniversary Show in three performances at Dunstan Playhouse from 7–9 June.

Proud croweater Annabel Crabb and her Queensland colleague Leigh Sales will present a special cabaret edition of their popular podcast Chat 10 Looks 3 live on the Festival Theatre stage, joined by the cream of the cabaret crop, during the second week of the festival.

Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb: Chat 10 Looks 3. 

Australian singer-songwriter and musician Missy Higgins will make her Adelaide Cabaret Festival debut celebrating the 20th anniversary of her ARIA award-winning album The Sound Of White in a special two-part show at Festival Theatre on 21 June.

Also in the program: Multi-award-winning comedy duo Mel & Sam will present the world premiere of their show The Best Of; storyteller, songwriter and performer Darby James will ask audiences to come aboard as he sets sail into the unchartered waters of sperm donation in his award-winning show Little Squirt. In an in-development showcase commissioned by the Festival, writer and performer Cassie Hamilton will present part of her latest work, A Transgender Woman on the Internet, Crying, a colourful collison of love, identity and joyous techno pop.

Jess Hitchcock. Photo © Tessa Thames

First Nations singer Jess Hitchcock demonstrates her vocal skills in A Fine Romance – Songs That Made Me at Adelaide’s Space Theatre on 13 June  and in a never-before-seen (and never to be seen again) live theatre spectacular, actor-comedians Jane Watt (Godspell) and Rob Johnson (Calamity Jane) will lead a brave and chaotic ensemble (including Julia Zemiro and Tom Cardy) in the off-the-cuff Musical Bang Bang, which sees a new musical birthed on the spot, each night. No two will be the same.

Christie Whelan Browne will present her brand-new bubblegum pop cabaret, Life in Plastic, which sees her team up with comedian Lou Wall in a celebration of sisterhood and the perils of perfection. Kate Miller-Heidke (co-composer of the recent Bananaland) brings her Catching Diamonds to Dunstan Playhouse (8–9 June), and Noongar and Gumbaynggirr woman Emma Donovan (The Donovans, Black Arm Band, The Putbacks) will launch her new album, Til My Song is Done, at Dunstan on 20 June.

For full details on programming and tickets, visit Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

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