RAW: Cabaret Fringe Festival Gala – The Promethean – 1 June

By Julia Loipersberger

The Cabaret Fringe Festival – the lesser known cousin of the international Cabaret Festival – high-kicked off to a grand start at The Prom on 1 June 2011. One of my favourite venues in Adelaide, the intimate Prom accommodated both distinguished guests and keen punters for a high energy display of the best of the June fest.

After a touching and enthusiastic introduction by arts aficionado, owner of nightspot La Boheme and one of the directors of the Cabaret Fringe Festival Paul Boylon, the divine Sidonie Henbest didn’t so much MC as guide the evening through an avalanche of the most diverse acts of the Fringe (whilst showing off her own impressive vocal chords).

A somewhat disappointing first act, burlesque dancer Cherry Valens presented a brief excerpt from her show ‘A Bond Burlesque: A Licence to Tease’. Although wearing a stunning costume (which in and of itself would be almost worth watching the show for), Miss Valens seemed somewhat lacklustre and trite as the opening act of the show.

Succeeded by one of the most unique performers of the Cabaret Fringe, Charles Sanders (wearing the most spectacular shoes) presented a fabulous array of songs from his autobiographical show ‘A Modest Exhibit’ (including tackling Freddie Mercury – impressive in and of itself). Charles is inimitable and well worth checking out if you’re in the mood for something different.

A diva of the cabaret stage, Catherine Campbell then performed a selection of cabaret stalwarts, including the unique Marlene Dietrich classic ‘Falling in Love Again’. While this reviewer speaks fluent German (unlike Ms Campbell) it is easy to see why she is the grande dame of Adelaide cabaret… maintaining a fabulous stage presence even while clambering underneath the piano to retrieve an ill-prepared prop.  For fans of true cabaret – Ms Campbell can be seen in ‘La Chevre Noir’ during the Fringe Festival.

On that note, one of the stellar performers of the evening was pianist Chris Martin, who rushed off immediately after the gala – to perform another show at La Boheme.

Fred Fudara, master of French and Spanish guitar music, entertained the thirsty crowds during the interval. As always, Fred is entertaining and a virtuoso in his own right.

The second portion of the evening commenced with Schmu, a performance artist who I thought was utterly indescribable until I heard a fellow gala attendee describe him to her partner as ‘Mr Bean on speed’. There really isn’t any other way to comment about his performance other than to say that he was ‘interesting’.

A pleasant change of pace was the amazing Libby O’Donovan, whose voice nearly took the roof off The Prom and whose hilarious patter and beautiful original songs promise that her show ‘Some of My Best Friends are Single’ will be one of the hits of the Cabaret Fringe.

An unusual but fabulous addition to the Cabaret Festival line-up was Tara Carragher presenting a collection of Bob Dylan songs from her tribute show ‘Freewheelin’’. Introduced by Sidonie as ‘a young chick with a Bob Dylan vibe’, this is an incredibly accurate description of a girl with her guitar, which promises to be a show well worth checking out.

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