Class acts herald inaugural Perth International Cabaret Festival

Michael Griffiths
Artistic Director Michael Griffiths

The wide-ranging talent of West Australian entertainers will be showcased next month when the inaugural Perth International Cabaret Festival takes place at His Majesty’s Theatre from 19 – 27 June. 

Artistic director, performer and Helpmann award winner, Michael Griffiths says audiences can expect exceptional world class entertainment at the curated festival which has been almost two years in the making.

“We originally planned the festival, the brainchild of Ali Welburn and Graham Lovelock, around 18 months ago and it was set for a 2020 opening but, for obvious reasons, that didn’t happen,” he said. “So it was then full steam ahead for this June and we are all very excited about it.”

International cabaret diva sensation Meow Meow, the master of intricate guitar tapestries Lior, exquisite Noongar singer Gina Williams and award-winning Guy Ghouse, are among more than 30 artists to perform at His Majesty’s.

“There’s lots of acts so we are all really thrilled, especially with the big WA content,” Griffiths said.

The diverse range of talent and age groups has the youngest, 23-year-old Jamie Mykaela in Daddy, a no-holds-barred performance of comedy, rock’n’roll and signature scathing wit. The oldest is the famous Carlotta, 77, in The Party’s Over WA premiere featuring the icon, political activist and living legend who retires from the stage soon.

Have a Go News’ very own Rick Steele, performs in the world premiere of Once Upon a Time, a chronological journey of a career spanning 50 years which started in his homeland New Zealand. He tells of rock ‘n’ roll life on the road, mixed up with stunning originals and classic covers.

Louise Anton One Woman, One Piano, One Voice (Perth premiere) celebrates 40 years in music. Anton’s soaring vocal range, melodic piano style, personal interpretations and stories, both funny and poignant, are interwoven with classics from Burt Bacharach, Barbra Streisand, Nina Simone and Billy Joel to contemporary hits and her own outstanding original compositions.

On opening night Koorlangka Reimagined, Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse welcome the audience to “sit at our campfire” and share, songs and stories, matching rare, ancient Noongar language to the glorious strings of the Dolce Ensemble and the piano genius of Russell Holmes. The event also includes a smoking ceremony on stage and Welcome to Country.

Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse

Griffiths, a WAAPA graduate, will accompany friend and fellow graduate Steven Oliver in the WA premiere of Bigger and Blacker. From the ABC’s hit television series Black Comedy

Oliver brings his critically acclaimed cabaret show direct from the Sydney Opera House. He weaves comedy and contemplation through stories of love and loss and mines his own life to reflect on fame, friendship and the power of music accompanied by Griffiths on piano.

Other acts include the WA premiere of Michael Griffiths Greatest Hits. Griffiths has dusted off his LPs and perused his one-man shows to curate a solid gold line-up of his favourite tunes. They include Madonna, Cole Porter, Kylie Minogue to A-ha, Eurythmics and the Violet Femmes with a three-piece band.

Amelia Ryan and Libby O’Donovan appear in Unsung, a loud, raucous celebration of the original pop and rock divas with music from Lynne Randall, Little Patti, Judy Stone, Marcie Jones, Wendy Saddington, Margaret Roadknight and more.

Perth drag performer Dean Misdale takes the audience on a reality shaking behind-the-scenes look at what it really takes to be a ‘queen’ and survive life’s twists and turns among the glamour-filled world of drag. Fiona Choi, Dragon Lady – The Many Lives & Deaths of Anna May Wong, charts the course of immigrant daughter to Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star to international style icon. Anna May Wong’s career spanned silent film, talkies, Broadway, cabaret and television before she was struck down by alcoholism and an industry unwilling to see past her Asian face.

Award-winning West End leading lady Lucy Williamson presents an evening of Judy Garland songs, stories and personality. Fresh from playing a critically acclaimed run as Garland in The Boy From Oz at Crown, she is joined by music director Joe Louis Robinson on piano, recreating and reimaging the legendary songbook.

Griffiths said it was hoped the festival would become an annual event. 

“This puts world-class entertainers in the spotlight, they are true professionals,” he said.