In Adelaide, life is a cabaretJune 05, 2014

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is one of a kind.

Cabaret, a form of entertainment featuring music, song, and dance, is mainly distinguished by its performance venue, usually in a nightclub with a stage. The audience are drinking, spectators being entertained by the master of ceremonies. This is oriented towards adults, as seen in "Cabaret" (1972) and "Moulin Rouge" (2001).

Baz Luhrmann's remake of John Huston's 1952 drama of the same name is raucous, mainly due to the Bollywood-inspired numbers. Some would call it over the top, but it wouldn't be called cabaret if it is dull. On the other hand, "Cabaret" is true to form, as Bob Fosse's musical, set in Weimar Republic in 1931, is ominous. But there is more to the musical, which the festival shows.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is held every June, coinciding with the Queen's Birthday. Kate Ceberano, who achieved success in pop, jazz, and soul, became the festival's artistic director on 2012. This year will be her last.

"As Artistic Director, I needed to understand more than just the general culture of cabaret, I needed to appreciate the way it's done in here, in Adelaide. The way we employ and curate artists, the way we look after them. The style and grace with which that's done is what makes this Festival so special, as well as so successful. Last year, we tripled box office takings and it's now considered the best in the world. It's wonderful that we don't have to ring and ask for people to come anymore; we've got artists contacting us, desperate to be a part of it, now on waiting lists," she said.

Many noticed that the last two editions were better, prompting some to credit Ceberano for the energy she brought. She beg to disagree.

"We have major acts coming from overseas and when they get here they realise we're not that worried about celebrity, we just love great talent. So, they're free to roam, explore the city and then get up on stage late at night. You'll find Mary Wilson singing Supremes' tunes with an artist from Adelaide and there's not this distinction between class or economy. It's quite gorgeous; they're just artists creating wonderful art together. It's absolutely sublime, really bohemian," she said.

Expect next month's festivity to be better, if not the best.

"We've got a really strong program this year, and more acts than we thought we were able to afford - I'm not quite sure how we're doing that but we are! And whilst we've got some unexpected headliners we've got some great home-grown acts too," she enthused.

"If curating this Festival had meant we only got the American Songbook then I don't think we'd have felt the full brunt of Cabaret. Cabaret was always meant to be a social commentary. As musicians, under the soft red velvet and the rose coloured glasses are the harsh realities of lives lived. Some of it's very high, some of it's very low, but people relate to it because they're human stories. And then you give them music, a sound track to that experience, and everyone's a winner."

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival will run from June 6 to 20.

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