The little festival that could has grown into a large-scale winter arts event with a formidable program
Despite its relatively small scale and budget, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival has attracted growing audiences over the past few years by producing bold new pieces by lesser-known cabaret artists, and by featuring much-loved performers from Australia and beyond.
This year, the festival has grown into its own with support from Creative Victoria and the City of Stonnington. With artistic director Mike McLeish (known for playing the title role in Keating! The Musical and as a cabaret writer and performer) at the helm, audiences can expect a talent-packed program across Chapel off Chapel, The Space Art and Dance Centre and Love Machine nightclub.
If you like your cabaret anarchic and hilarious, grab your tickets for Otto and Astrid: Best Band in the World by Berlin electro-punks Die Roten Punkte (Jun 22-25). Also sitting firmly in the comedy side of cabaret is New York’s Steve Ross, who is performing songs from the ‘20s and ‘30s (Jun 23-25) as well as slapstick diva Amy G in her stand-up/cabaret hybrid Entershamement (Jun 16-19). For something darker, see the talented Imogen Splendlove’s Lost in Love (Jun 15-16) which will feature the music of Rufus Wainwright and Nina Simone. If love watching cabaret performers bear their souls on stage, then see the fearless Yana Alana in Covered (Jun 16-19) or Ash Flanders’ (of Sisters’ Grimm fame) award-winning show Playing to Win (Jun 15-19) – an irreverent take on what it takes to become a success.
Can't make up your mind? Head to the closing night party, where your ticket will let you wander through shows at Chapel off Chapel, before you lose yourself in what festival organisers are calling “Australia’s biggest piano bar party”.