Adelaide Cabaret Festival unleashes brightest program ever

Paul-Capsis-photo-by-Warren-LeeAdelaide Cabaret Festival has gone all out, with the biggest and brightest performers announced today, as Adelaide’s favourite winter festival gets set to sizzle when it celebrates Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50th Anniversary in June.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival presents its 23rd program, featuring 342 artists and musicians across 91 performances including 13 world premieres and 20 Adelaide premieres by a large contingent of Australian artists and performers from the USA, United Kingdom, and France.

Curated by an all-star line-up of nine previous Artistic Directors, The Cabaret Collective – Julia Holt, David Campbell and Lisa Campbell, Kate Ceberano, Eddie Perfect, Ali McGregor, Julia Zemiro, Alan Cumming and Tina Arena – each has brought their own flair to the program, bringing back some cabaret classics and presenting new and emerging artists.

Many will perform at the already sold-out opening night The 2023 Variety Gala, and some have their very own shows as part of the stellar line-up, on sale today.

“Working alongside the collective of Artistic Directors has been an incredible exercise in creativity and collaboration and shows the passion so many artists and audiences have for Adelaide Cabaret Festival,” said Adelaide Cabaret Festival Executive Producer Alex Sinclair.

“This year’s program brings together some old favourites and new beginnings that speak to the legacy of past festivals and hopes for its future. This is an historic collaboration in honour of a very special 50th Birthday celebration at Adelaide Festival Centre and we hope audiences, new and long-standing, can join the party.”

Among this year’s highlights:

Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis bring back RocKwiz – this time the wiz salutes Adelaide and celebrates incredible South Australian musicians, from Cold Chisel and Paul Kelly to Sia and Hilltop Hoods, on the second weekend of the festival, in the Festival Theatre on Saturday 17 June.

Returning to Adelaide Cabaret Festival for the first time in a decade, direct from the US, internationally acclaimed cabaret great Mark Nadler will perform two shows. The charismatic New Yorker will take to the stage with Hootenanny and The Old Razzle Dazzle, both on the second weekend of the festival.

Other international acts include Grammy Award winning chanteuse Rizo, whose show Prizmatism makes its Australian premiere in the final weekend and stage legend and social media sensation, Broadway Barbara – who boasts almost half a million followers – makes her Australian debut on the festival’s first weekend.

Following sold-out UK tours, Sarah-Louise Young brings her show, An Evening Without Kate Bush, to Australia for the first time and pays homage to the music, majesty, and mythology of one of the most influential voices in British music.

In an Australian premiere, Ali McGregor, who shares her golden 50th year with Adelaide Festival Centre, brings her brand-new show to the cabaret stage, Fool’s Gold. Performing new arrangements of her old favourites with her six-piece band on Saturday 10 June at Dunstan Playhouse.

One of Australia’s most prolific writers and composers, Eddie Perfect (Shane Warne: The Musical, Beetlejuice) brings a new program to the stage – The Blank Page with Eddie Perfect. Perfect will be joined by incredible composers and lyricists from the cabaret and musical theatre worlds, giving audiences an exclusive glimpse of the entire creative process from page to stage.

Singer, writer and performer, Ursula Yovich is not to be missed in her show, An Evening with Ursula Yovich, where she explores culture and connection through story and song in a moving love letter to language and taking inspiration from her Arnhem Land roots and tri-lingual childhood household.

Cabaret fans can delight in the return of favourites Paul Capsis in Dry My Tears – his first ever acoustic show, while diva Mama Alto will perform a stunning hour of vaudeville delights in Follies Girl. And audiences can meet the man behind Bob Downe as Mark Trevorrow steps on stage as himself in Singing Straight.

South Australian cabaret stars featured this year include the legendary Robyn Archer presenting An Australian Songbook, spanning 150 years of Australian voices from rock, folk, country, and musical theatre.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Icon Award 2022 winner Libby O’Donovan joins renowned jazz vocalist Michelle Nicolle and The Yankalilla Miracles to belt out hit songs from the 60s to the 90s in More Than A Melody.

Helpmann Award winner Michael Griffiths gets personal in the world premiere of It’s A Sin – Songs of Love and Shame in Space Theatre, and fresh from Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under, Kween Kong takes to the Dunstan Playhouse stage in a variety extravaganza celebrating the best of drag, burlesque, circus, and cabaret.

This year’s Frank Ford Commission is Brag Drunch – an immersive dining and performance experience looking at the intersection of queer history and food featuring a spread of South Australian drag artists. The award by Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s late founding father, provides $20,000 a year towards the creation of new works by South Australian artists.

Jazz lovers are in for a treat with a new festival exclusive show hand-picked by Kate Ceberano, where ARIA Award Winner Vince Jones performs the much-loved songs from the ABC television series Come In Spinner soundtrack, which became the highest-selling Australian jazz album of all time, accompanied by a 17-piece big band and special guest Nina Ferro.

Making her Adelaide Cabaret Festival debut, Nancy Denis will present M’ap Boulè, exploring her Haitian heritage and stories of her ancestors revolting against their colonisers in a riveting and raw show combining storytelling, theatre, poetry, and song.

And direct from Paris, in an Australian exclusive, world-famous French cabaret act, Paris Combo will perform their show A Celebration of Songs of Belle Du Berry in tribute to their late charismatic chanteuse and songwriter.

“It is my most incredible privilege and honour to be part of the 23rd Adelaide Cabaret Festival, standing alongside the collective of previous Artistic Directors and the amazing festival as well as performers, crew, staff and supporters,” said Julia Holt, Artistic Director (2001 – 2008).

“Here we are in 2023, reviewing the past and looking to the future and perhaps most importantly though, we are celebrating the present. Where we can, once again, be out together dancing cheek to cheek,” said Julia.

“Our time at Adelaide Cabaret Festival is a career highlight for us both,” said David and Lisa Campbell, Artistic Directors (2009 – 2011).

“There is nothing more thrilling as an Artistic Director than walking around the festival talking to people about what they had just seen and hearing their immediate reaction.

“We have loved seeing the festival grow over the years and cannot wait to see this brilliant program come to life and catch up with those familiar faces!” said David and Lisa.

The inspiring Class of Cabaret program, introduced to the festival by David and Lisa Campbell, returns to shine a light on the cabaret stars of tomorrow, proudly supported by Adelaide Festival Centre Foundation through the Nathaniel O’Brien Scholarship, which supports one student from regional South Australia to participate in the program.

Festival favourite Dr Trevor Jones – The Piano Man is back at the Festival Theatre foyer Quartet Bar nightly, plus will host a brand-new Show Tunes Trivia on Thursday 15 June. And the Corryton Burge Bar and Cabaret Lounge return as the perfect places for patrons to settle into a quiet corner or keep the party going between shows.

The popular LGBTIQ+ Elders Dance Club by All The Queens Men, the fabulous afternoon tea dance party for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse and intersex elders and all allies, will be held at The Quartet Bar on Saturday 17 June.

“There’s so much to look forward to at this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival – a wonderful time of year when Adelaide takes centre stage, and we see cabaret lovers and performers from all over the world flock to our state,” said The Hon Andrea Michaels MP, South Australian Minister for Arts.

“I’m thrilled to see previous artistic directors return to this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary milestone of Adelaide Festival Centre, demonstrating that art is a powerful way of connecting with each other and the world.”

The 23rd Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from Friday 9 June to Saturday 24 June 2023. For more information and  full program, visit: for details.

Image: Paul Capsis – photo by Warren Lee