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Melbourne Cabaret Festival – Opening Night Gala

Dolly Diamond, artistic director and host of
the Melbourne Cabaret Festival Gala
Photo: Sanjeev Singh

Now in its ninth year, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival opened last night in spectacular fashion at Chapel Off Chapel. Hosted by performer and artistic director Dolly Diamond, the opening night Gala saw the Chapel glitzed- and glammed-up for a sample of what is to come over the next two weeks.

The gala showcased a variety of cabaret acts that form part of the program. Where else would you see selections from a show by an ex-Sale of the Century hostess and another show about how to hydrate when you have dysentery? It was that kind of wild and crazy night.

Alyce Platt, star of Someone's Daughter
Alyce Platt gave a taste of her show, Someone’s Daughter, a mix of pop songs, original music and stories from the high life of being a TV celebrity in the madness of the 1980s. Platt has a powerful voice and doesn’t seem to have aged a day since she left the gift shop in 1991.

Max Riebl is a countertenor with expert vocal control, who is as comfortable with the arias of Handel, as he is with an operatic cover of Radiohead’s Karma Police.

From He’s Every Woman, friends Justin Clausen and Jamie Burgess, embrace the big- voiced, big-haired divas of recent history. Clausen’s rendition of “River Deep, Mountain High” was electric.

Perth duo Erin Hutchinson and Tyler Jacob Jones welcomed us to a world of stories about what people will do to survive in What Doesn’t Kill You [blah blah] Stronger. This pair showcased some amazing original songs with titles like “Army of Cats” and “Things That People Do To Survive,” which was delightfully subversive. Their show took some awards at Perth Fringe and got good notices at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Justin Clausen, He's Every Woman

Two other shows previewed at the Gala were odes to the songs of Brian Wilson (God Only Knows) and those of Nancy Sinatra (You Only Live Twice). Danielle O’Malley has a suitably powerful voice to recreate a live TV special by Sinatra and her renditions of “Bang Bang” and “These Boots Are Made For Walking” were an awesome way to bring the Gala to a close.

The Festival includes a return season of Comma Sutra (a cabaret about punctuation), shows dedicated to Julie Andrews and Peter Allen, and a show that intrigues me in particular, Fire Walk With Us: The Music of Twin Peaks.

The Festival runs at Chapel Off Chapel until July 1st. Check out the guide and schedule two or three shows in a night. If the Gala is anything to go by, this year will be the Festival’s best one yet.

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