Last year, was a productive year for Queensland triple threat, Kurt Phelan and this year is set for similar successes.
In 2015, the singer, dancer, actor was cast as Johnny in the touring musical production of Dirty Dancing and then he penned a brand new cabaret, Phelan Groovy, the latter of which is opening this weekend at Cabaret Fringe Festival.
Set to be a hilarious look inside the mind of a star of the stage, the production is part biographical, part behind-the-scenes voyeurism and all cabaret goodness at La Boheme.
We spoke with Kurt ahead of his Adelaide season about being Johnny, being Kurt, and being put in a corner.
“It was an unexpected surprise,” he says of being cast in Dirty Dancing. “I never thought I would find myself playing Johnny in a million years. But I was so thankful for the opportunity to lead such an iconic production like Dirty Dancing.
“The crowds loved it, we loved doing it and everybody had the ‘Time of Their Lives’. Also I got to be closer to my hero Patrick Swayze. The only thing better would have been cast as Bohdi in the Point Break remake.”
Phelan Groovy, which is playing through the first half of June at Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival encompasses a musical spectrum from Farnsy to Lorde to show tunes and back again.
And despite his theatrical prowess, Kurt says the show reveals the stories and legends from your local larrikin rather than poetic prose from a Parisian prima donna.
“It’s a chance for me to take the mask off and be my cheeky self in front of a crowd, with a piano. Something I love doing,” he said.
“As for the actual show? It’s an access all areas romp inside my mind. When I was younger I learnt to only say about 10% of the things I think. This show is the other 90%!”
And who wouldn’t want to hear the tales of a cabaret star who has performed in some of the biggest musicals in Australia from Singin’ in the Rain to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?
“Every artist is very critical of their own work. But I’m proud to say that audiences have been loving Phelan Groovy,” he says.
“It appeals to everyone. Yes, theatre going crowds will love it. But, it’s the dads, sons and lovers who are usually dragged along who are really enjoying it. I am, after all a boy from the bush and I wanted to make something that everyone will love.”
“It’s like an old fashioned rat pack roast; nothing is left untouched. Have a laugh at me and the crazy things I think about the world and forget your troubles.”
As well as enjoying showing Phelan Groovy around the country, Kurt is really excited about presenting this show for Adelaide audiences at Cabaret Fringe Festival.
“Adelaide audiences are so responsive. I can’t wait to get in front of them. And as for the Cab Fringe? Heaps of artists gathering in one city for the same reason: a festival of cabaret. What’s not to love? It’s going to be a great time!”
And what does Kurt love about our fair city?
“I have been training to become a sommelier, so I must say WINE! But I really love how every time I come back, there are new corners to explore. New laneways with new bars and excellent food. All while being so welcoming. I must say, Melbourne had better pull its socks up, cause r’Adelaide is fast overtaking it!”
We reckon everyone needs to go and check out Phelan Groovy while it’s in town, but we had to ask Kurt one more question before he got back to rehearsal.
What does he really think about Baby being put in the corner?
“No, seriously, what is that? Your 17-year-old daughter was caught having a love affair with a leather clad, womanising, dance teaching, 20 something, and the worst thing you can do is put her in a corner? You’re never too old for a smack,” he laughs.
“But it’s ok, cause he learnt to be a gentleman and taught her to ‘dirty’ dance. Who could resist his charms? You?”
Book your tickets now to see Phelan Groovy at Cabaret Fringe Festival.
By Libby Parker