Ballarat’s Mining Exchange has been transformed into a spectacular Vaudeville-style marquee for this weekend’s Cabaret Festival.
Draped in velvet and Big Top-style curtains, the Mining Exchange is now looking far more reminiscent of 1800s Paris than 21st century Ballarat.
Opening on Friday night were jazz maestros Vince Jones and Paul Grabowsky, dazzling audiences with masterful takes on classics like We've Only Just Begun and The Parting Glass.
Saturday’s program will open with In Development – a series of cabaret performances from Federation University third year music theatre students.
The program will then move on to a performance from international cabaret icon Carlotta before moving on to Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan with the songs of Olivia Newton-John and Peter Allen.
The night will finish with the Fabulous Dame Farrar, before Sunday’s closing performance by international cabaret starlet Meow Meow.
Festival director Graeme Russell said this year’s event was the “most amazing yet”.
“It’s a top-notch festival,” he said.
“Carlotta has been an absolute icon for the past 50 years, and in a way, Meow Meow has taken on that mantle – she travels the world in a similar way to the way Carlotta did for all those years.”
Mr Russell praised the efforts of students involved in the In Development program, which will run both Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s about using the festival as a springboard for new artists and showcasing some new talent,” he said.
In Development artist Shaune Davis said he had used his own life for inspiration in his cabaret piece.
“It’s called Wage the War and it’s about mental illness. It’s pretty self-deprecating – I’m telling a message I’ve always wanted to tell because mental illness is all through my family,” he said.
“We have to bare our souls.
“It’s terrifying and awesome at the same time. It’s the waiting (that’s terrifying) but you get up there and after a while, you’re just into it.”
Fellow student Cathryn McDonald said the style of cabaret suited the Australian understanding of humour.
“The essence of cabaret is truth, which lends itself to making fun of yourself,” she said.
For details and tickets about this weekend’s Ballarat Cabaret Festival, visit www.ballaratcabaret.com
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