CABARET – it’s music, it’s storytelling, it’s interactive, it’s intimate.
When even a cabaret festival director himself doesn’t have a firm definition, you know you’re up against a pretty loose concept.
But all of what cabaret is returns to town this weekend for the second Ballarat Cabaret Festival.
There will be a song and a chat by the grand piano, gaudy and glitzy tributes to Shirley Bassey, Cher, Bette Midler and Oprah, and tales of lives lived woven into lyrics and melody.
Compared with last year’s inaugural festival, this year’s production is more condensed and more intense, with 14 shows and 26 performances at six venues.
Festival director Graeme Russell says audiences are already responding to the new format, which will allow them to catch three very different shows, one after another, on the one night.
“We are thrilled with the response, with our pre-event ticket sales,” Mr Russell says.
“People seem to be more aware of it, and also, being over four days instead of two weeks, it’s been easier for people to plan to get from one venue to another.”
Mr Russell says the Ballarat festival is riding on a renaissance of cabaret in Australia. Adelaide now hosts the biggest cabaret festival in the world, Melbourne’s is perhaps number two, and Ballarat’s festival is one of very few regional cabaret events.
The festival features both the prize winners from this year’s Sydney Cabaret Showcase – Bradley McCaw with his “unauthorised biography of cabaret”, and Amelia Ryan presenting her life as a cacophony of catastrophe.
Trevor Ashley will be Star Struck with his tribute to the divas of song, and Catherine Alcorn will perform a tribute focused on one diva in particular as The Divine Miss Bette.
Tickets from $30 to $50 are available from Her Majesty’s Ballarat Box Office on 5333 5888 or at www.ballaratcabaret.com.