Review: Legally Blonde the Musical at Futures Theatre
May 31, 2024
Review: Life in Plastic at the Banquet Room
June 10, 2024

Review: The 2024 Variety Gala at The Festival Theatre

It is always a thrill to be in the audience for the opening of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and this year is like no other; with the incomparable and delectable Virginia Gay is at the helm!

The Variety Gala Opening Night was an electrifying extravaganza that set the stage on fire, marking the commencement of what promises to be an unforgettable festival season. From start to finish, the gala delivered a kaleidoscope of performances that celebrated the diversity and dynamism of cabaret.

Hosted by the dazzling and self-proclaimed Chief Mischief Maker Artistic Director herself, the night was captivating, wicked, and full of mayhem!

Isaac Hannam was on hand to deliver his inimitable Welcome to Country.

Crawling out of the symbolic bathtub in full Couture+Love+Madness ballgown and Elever earrings [fantastic Adelaide brands], to sing an ode to Adelaide, Virginia Gay set the tone of the night and the whole Cabaret season and had the audience in rapturous applause!

The stars of the Variety Gala made their way to centre stage to spruik their show by giving a teaser taster of what audience members could expect.

First up, were the brilliant Facinating Aida – Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson, Liza Pulman and Michael Roulston singing Prisoner of Gender; Adele’s Song. A trio who has been performing together for 40 years, in the world’s most prestigious venues, such as Royal Albert Hall, these three are sharp, witty, and sassy!

Bert LaBonte, an actor, vocalist, leading man erupted through the ruched curtains with his golden tonsils singing Let’s Get It on. Here for the 10th Anniversary of Swing on This, with fellow crooners Luke Kennedy, Ben Mingay and Matt Lee he really brought the suave, slick and Vegas charm.

Next to the stage was Gillian Cosgriff with a snippet from her show, Actually, Good. This super clever and talented performer/writer, remember The Fig Tree from last year [which I LOVED], is back with her signature charm and captivation. Winner of Most Outstanding Show at the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival this is one not to miss.

Class of Cabaret graduate, mentor and Adelaide Fringe winner, Millicent Sarre sang I Can Cook Too from On The Town with her roaring vocals and stage presence.

My favourite from the night, were Flo and Joan, the sharp-tongued, self-deprecating singing sisters [yes, they really are] who had the audience snort laughing and chortling through their set, lamenting about Lady in the Woods. Book your tickets to their show, Now Playing STAT!

Jess Hitchcock, performing in two shows in the Festival, A Fine Romance and Hopelessly Devoted, sang a hypnotising rendition of Suspended in Time from Xanadu.

Rounding out Act One, was Mr New York Showbiz himself, Mark Nadler who wowed the crowd with his theatrics and virtuosity on the piano. If a late-night feast of special guests and piano pounding is what you are looking for, then look no further than Hootenanny this weekend!

This year’s Icon Award winner, let’s face it, it was inevitable, Reuben Kaye, brought his celebrated individuality to the Gala to show everyone why he is a deserving triumph. His performance demonstrated his range of irreverent, political, brutally funny, and frank cabaret. Truly iconic.

Another set of piano virtuoso’s, Gabbi Bolt and Matthew Predney presented their Encore Duet from Murder for Two. Profound storytellers, this show looks to be a rollicking riot of mystery, music, and mayhem!

Listening to Cassie Hamilton sing Falling in Love With Someone, with her in development work, A Transgender Woman on the Internet, Crying was mesmerising.

On the other side of this, was Australia’s Leading Lady, Rhonda Burchmore – who showed us how she has stayed in this business for 42 years [and how to enter and exit a stage] with her rendition of Moving the Line. Glorious.

A fun duet with the stunning Christie Whelan Browne and Virginia Gay had the audience singing along to You’re The One That I Want, from Whelan Browne’s show Hopelessly Devoted.

But closing the night was Mahalia Barnes raising the roof with her version of River Deep Mountain High. Her penetrating mix, supple and insatiable voice is everything you want when singing this number. She made it look and sound effortless!

Massive kudos to Musical Director Shanon Whitelock and his band – they were undeniably spectacular!!

Hats off to Alex Sinclair and team, The Variety Gala is an absolute gem of a night always leaving audiences craving for more. With its unbeatable combination of top-tier talent, infectious energy, and undeniable charm, it sets the bar high for the rest of the festival season! And it finished in record time!


Lia Loves.


Lia Loves
Lia Loves
Theatre. Dance. Culture. Events. Follow her adventures as Adelaide's premier theatre buff, arts contributor, educator and ambassador!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *