Adelaide’s Cabaret Fringe Festival is now in full swing and will continue to swing until the end of June.

Having officially opened last weekend with a rollicking Gala hosted by the reunited cast of Berlin Cabaret, the Cabaret Fringe Festival has a range of around 40 shows for your viewing pleasure.

From comedy and dance through to drama and tribute shows, there is something for everyone at this year’s festival.

At the helm of this annual event is a team of dedicated professionals with a desire to bring a passion for cabaret to the people of Adelaide.

Co-director Eugene Suleau is celebrating his seventh year with the Festival, which itself is in its tenth edition.

“My understanding is the first edition was in 2002 and it started at the Weimar Room in Hindley Street by Torsten Meyer,” Eugene says. “It went for a couple of years but was solely concentrated at the Weimar Room and was a curated event. Then it went into hiatus for a while.”

banner_nodate“Then in 2008, Paul Boylon came along and thought, we need to start this up again, so it’s been running every year since then. I came on board a couple of years ago. I’d been working at the Adelaide Fringe for a number of years and my contract there finished. The previous Cabaret Fringe director wanted to go off and do other things so Paul got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to take over.”

Since Eugene’s involvement, the Cabaret Fringe Festival has grown and developed, spreading across venues all over Adelaide and bringing quality cabaret to the masses.

As well as giving performers a platform to present their work, the team at Cabaret Fringe Festival supports artists to promote their shows, creating a culture of unity, as if the whole Festival are cast and crew together.

“What we’re trying to do is provide more direct services. The team working on Cabaret Fringe, which is myself, Paul Boylon (Co-Director), Adam Boylon (Creative Concept and Program Design), Dahlia Opala (Producer) and Tracey Davis (Producer), all have a different set of skills and experiences so we’re all using those skills and experiences to do the best for the artists,” Eugene says.

“Tracey’s particular skill is web development and producing marketing materials, so one of the things that we do is push advertising and make sliders for the website. We’re trying a few different ways of helping the artists out and getting people out to see them perform.”

With so many events to see, the festival has a lot to offer and is growing every year, but Eugene says they still have a task in making people aware of the festival.

“There are 40 events, which is not small, but there are still plenty of people who haven’t heard of Cabaret Fringe. We were up at Stirling Market recently, handing out programs, and there were people who told us they didn’t know Cabaret Fringe existed, so that’s what we’re battling with, because it hasn’t yet achieved that level of size where people naturally become aware of it,” he says.

Those fortunate enough to attend the Opening Gala last weekend were offered a taste of what is on the menu this festival.

Adelaide's Berlin Cabaret reunited to host the Opening Gala.
Adelaide’s Berlin Cabaret reunited to host the Opening Gala.
The cast of Berlin Cabaret treated the audience to an hilarious reunion, reminding us of the wonderful days of the Weimar Room.

Between moments of Berlin Cabaret’s clowning, strutting and serves of sass, several artists from the Cabaret Fringe Festival program had the opportunity to play a number from their show.

The choice to have the fabulous pseudo Europeans host the Opening Gala at The German Club (and not La Boheme) was one that Eugene says was about celebrating the festival’s longevity.

“Realising this was the tenth edition, Paul wanted to do something different. Also, being married to Catherine (Campbell), made it a bit easier for him to say, ‘why don’t you get the old gang back together!’” he laughs.

“It was a nice way to kick off the tenth edition. The German Club is one of Adelaide’s hidden gems. Adelaide suffers from not having enough medium sized venues anymore with, for example, The Soul Box closing recently. And even though the space is quite large, it’s still there for people. The stage is a big stage that is available for people to use for any particular show they might want to do. It’s a fantastic venue.”

Among those performing at the Gala was Candy Chambers whose gorgeously glittery persona invited the audience to say ‘yes’ to going to her show; Dolly Lee gave a sample of her show where she sings the songs of Doris Day and showcases the fashion of the era; Gypsy Nights presented folk songs in Russian and Czech, and Jacqui Yeo and The Silhouettes’ sexy dance routine had feet tapping and eyes popping.

Hans invited the crowd to his Haus Party, which is sure to have them rolling in the aisles, Marduk Flamenco presented a beautiful display of Spanish dance, Hannah Bennett showed that cabaret can be poignant with a number from Myriad – a show about mental illness; and Sounds Like a Story sounded like it would be a beautiful, jazzy night at La Boheme.

Although Eugene Suleau doesn’t like the idea of having a ‘pick of the festival’, he is looking forward to seeing many of the acts that were showcased at the Gala.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a whole range of different things. There’s such a range of things! For example, Gypsy Nights, which is Eastern European influenced, and then Marduk Flamenco which has influence from Spain, and then Sights and Sounds of Paris; so there’s a whole gamut of different styles to choose from,” he says.

“People ask me to give a pick of the festival, but I find it very difficult. See every show! See as many shows as you possibly can! The reason I don’t like top ten lists, which other large festivals do, is because you are ignoring all the other shows who paid their registration fees, which isn’t fair. But as for what I recommend, I saw Candy Chambers last year and she’s very entertaining, Gypsy Nights looks really interesting and The Silhouettes are a fantastic, high-energy show. But as I said, there’s something for everybody. There’s jazz, there’s some impro, there’s tributes to music of the ‘60s; have a look through the guide and find six things you want to see and go see them!”

As well as local acts, there are interstate acts that are presenting work this year, which Eugene says is testament to the festival gaining traction.

“There are some interstate acts coming in this year and it’s hard for them because Cabaret Fringe is quite small so we’re trying to boost their profile a little bit and promote their shows. It’s encouraging that cabaret performers around the country are looking at Adelaide in June and wanting to be in our festival,” he says.

The Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival is a wonderful celebration of homegrown talent, and an exciting display of music, dance and comedy.

Eugene Suleau, Paul Boylon and their team are working hard to bring the specialty festival to Adelaide every year and they could use our support.

“I want to see ticket sales grow,” Eugene says. “Any festival would want that to happen, but I also want to see audiences support it. It’s a lovely little festival to have because it gives opportunities to cabaret artists in their own space. Sure, cabaret is part of the main Adelaide Fringe but sometimes acts can get lost in such a large program, which is why Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival is such a great platform for local artists and national artists to come and have their work seen.”

Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival runs from 29th May until 28th June. You can view the program and buy tickets at the website.

By Libby Parker