2019 Sydney Cabaret Festival

2019 Sydney Cabaret Festival

July 2019 will herald the inaugural Sydney Cabaret Festival, celebrating both international and Australian cabaret stars. Tickets will go on sale from 18 March.

The 2019 Sydney Cabaret Festival features Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday (pictured left), appearing for the first time on Australian soil, alongside local legends like Phil Scott and Jonathan Biggins, to New York downtown darling Natalie Joy Johnson. UK’s Frisky and Mannish return after a ten year hiatus, as does diva Alison Jiear. Tim Draxl will appear in a world premiere of his new show, along with Kim David Smith, Reuben Kaye and Brian Nash, plus circus and variety show Cheeky Cabaret, direct from their home in Brunswick Heads. Tim Benzie returns to Sydney with Solve-Along-A-Murder-She-Wrote. The Festival also includes a cabaret for children, Petit Cabaret, and masterclasses with Jennifer Holliday and Alison Jiear, as well as the Grand Final of the restored Sydney Cabaret Competition.

Festival Artistic Director Trevor Ashley is thrilled with the program he has assembled. “I have loved Cabaret as long as I can remember. As a confused child growing up I discovered this incredible artform that celebrated unique personalities, and more than that, an irreplaceable bond between artist and audience. Seeing artists like Lorrae Desmond, Julie Anthony and Geraldine Turner live, made me believe I could be anyone I wanted to be. It changed my life.

“I have long dreamed that we could bring cabaret home to Sydney so I am immensely proud to present the inaugural Sydney Cabaret Festival, which in its first outing brings together some of my favourite artists from around Australia and the globe. From our headliner, the legendary Jennifer Holliday, through to Alison Jiear, Kim David Smith and Reuben Kaye - three artists at the top of their game, who were born here, but now call London and New York home, there is something for everyone. Variety, comedy, jazz, and more belting than you could poke a stick at, we are coming out with a bang.

“I invite you to celebrate this truly life changing artform, and hope that you’ll join not only artists you know and love, but take a chance on someone you’ve never heard of before. Every single one of these acts is at the top of their game, and I can’t believe we will have them all in one place at the same time.”

In the immortal words of Fred Ebb: What good is sitting alone in your room? Come to the Cabaret.




5-14 July 2019
Bookings and more information at sydneycabaretfest.com


Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall and the Festival Hub at the Seymour Centre. The Seymour Centre is the home to the majority of the program with five spaces to enjoy the lineup. All the theatres have been renamed after legendary Sydney cabaret venues, turning the entire venue into a Cabaret Wonderland.

VALHALLA – The largest venue, named after the famous cinema/ performance space in Glebe is the home to Cheeky Cabaret, and the Petit Cabaret for the kids. Valhalla was the place audiences first saw the legend that became Reg Livermore when he starred as Frank N’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Show in the original Australian production.

CHEQUERS - Chequers will be home to some of our favourite cabaret superstars, transporting you back to the legendary nightclub of the 1960s. Chequers on Goulburn Street, was the hottest nightspot in Sydney for years, with star acts like Shirley Bassey, Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jr!

THE TILBURY ROOM - Tilbury legends Jonathan Biggins and Phil Scott will headline the room named after the renowned Sydney pub in Woolloomooloo. Owned by Geoffrey Williams and Michael Freundt, the Tilbury was the place to go for cabaret for most of the 90s. Here icons like Tony Sheldon, Genevieve Lemon, Jeanne Little and many more trod the boards, especially in the famous Tilbury Pantos.

CAPRICCIO’S - Named after one of the greatest drag revue bars on Oxford Street, Capriccios is the smallest room in which to get properly up close and personal. Capriccio’s was owned by Dawn O’Donnell and featured high-end production shows in its upstairs theatre, where you could see celebrities like Debbie Reynolds mixing with star performer Rose Jackson!

THE PIANO BAR - Upstairs at the Seymour, come on down where the gin is cold and the piano’s hot! The nightly piano bar operates across the festival, with special late shows on weekends. Sign up to hear more exciting information as the Festival approaches.


Friday 5 July, City Recital Hall
Hosted by Festival Director Trevor Ashley, the All-Star Gala provides a taste of what’s to come across the festival. Surprise guest artists, big laughs and sequinned glamour await you... so step up and step out, and join us for this one-night- only opening event. This is your chance to be at the opening night, rubbing shoulders with the festival glitterati at this gala event as Cabaret finally comes home to Sydney.


Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July, Sydney Town Hall
Tony and Grammy Award winning Broadway icon Jennifer Holliday makes her Australian Debut, exclusively for Sydney Cabaret. With two Grammy Awards, nine studio albums and five Top 10 singles on the R&B and Dance Charts to her credit, Jennifer will dazzle with her powerhouse vocals in an electrifying evening of Broadway, jazz standards, originals and soulful pop.

Her show stopping, heart-wrenching performance of And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going” in the original production of Dreamgirls is considered one of the all-time great performances in a Broadway musical. She recently returned to Broadway in the role of sexy cabaret singer Shug Avery in the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple.


Friday 12 July, Saturday 13 July and Sunday 14 July – Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre
Imagine if Joan Collins, Tim Curry and Meow Meow all dropped a stack of narcotics and had an orgy... now roll it in jewels and a bathtub of gin and you’re halfway there. In an explosion of energy, high camp, big notes and filthy humour, Reuben Kaye dominates the stage and devours his audience. With an acid wit and casual sensationalism that is simply delicious, he is a dazzling phantasm of anachronistic showbiz – an explosion of sequins, lashes and teeth. Kaye’s delivery is flawless as he seamlessly blends lavish storytelling into gilded song, incorporating an impressive repertoire that ranges from Kurt Weill to Kate Bush, regularly punctuating his monologue with rich cultural critique.


Thursday 11 July, Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre
Direct from the Duplex, award-winning New York City pianist, singer and musical director Brian Nash returns to Sydney with The Art of the Mashup. Brian has become renowned for his ability to combine songs into hilarious, creative storytelling medleys, and is debuting a full evening of his greatest hits, along with the stories of their creation. If you’ve wanted to know what Stewie Griffin would sound like singing Beyoncé, or wondered where Bette Midler and Whitney Houston overlap, this is your chance.



Friday 12 July and Saturday 13 July, Chequers, Seymour Centre
Following sell-out shows in London, Laurence Olivier Award-nominated vocalist Alison Jiear returns to her home country with her phenomenal jazz quartet to perform music made famous by the "First Lady of Song" with a show packed full of iconic standards such as “A Tisket A Tasket”, “Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye”, “Lady be Good”, “Hernando's Hideaway” and “That 'Ol Black Magic”.


Friday 5 July, Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July – Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre
Direct from the Tilbury Hotel (via 46 years in the Wharf Revue), the Tilbury Room at Sydney Cabaret presents Jonathan Biggins and Phil Scott giving a veritable masterclass in cabaret – with neither the mastery nor class. Together, these lightly-seasoned performers examine the many strands of the cabaret art form – Audition Cabaret, Name-Drop Cabaret, Weimar, Broadway, Political and the ever-popular “No Other Avenue is Available to Me” cabaret stylings of the under-employed.


Wednesday 10 July and Thursday 11 July, Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre
Actor and singer Tim Draxl returns to the cabaret stage with an exciting project that re-creates the 1960s cult album of male-to-male love songs Love Is A Drag. The melodic, haunting work comprises American standards previously recorded only by women yet here interpreted by a male crooner whose identity was deliberately shrouded in secrecy. Songs include “My Man”, “The Man I Love”, “He’s Funny That Way”, “Bewitched” and “Mad About The Boy”.

Love is a Dragreveals the repression, hostility, deceits and life-and-death sacrifices of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ’60s as well as a celebration of Tim Draxl’s own personal story of artistic freedom, individual and collective pride, and how 50 years ago the very notion of marriage equality would have been dismissed as pure fantasy. Ultimately, Love Is A Drug is deeply-romantic, life-affirming and liberating, as achingly conveyed in Billie Holliday’s “The Man I Love”.


Friday 5 July – Sunday 14 July, Valhalla, Seymour Centre
Who knew that the sleepy picturesque village of Brunswick Heads on the north coast of NSW would become the cultural hotspot that has most of the country talking? Stumbling across an unloved theatre on the beach that had been closed for 30 years, the creators of international, award-winning smash hits La Soirée and Club Swizzle had an immediate life-changing epiphany and after much blood, sweat and tears, the Brunswick Picture House was born.

The signature show of this charming little venue, the Cheeky Cabaret, has grown up quickly and is now venturing out and stretching its legs in the big smoke at the Sydney Cabaret Festival in July. The black sheep of the La Soirée cabaret family and very naughty younger brother, the Cheeky Cabaret is an irreverent, saucy and highly mischievous mash of circus, vaudeville, comedy, new burlesque and everything in between, and has been a runaway success.


Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July, Chequers, Seymour Centre
Ten years since they burst onto the scene with their brand of musical infotainment, Frisky and Mannish are officially Pop PhDs, fully qualified to conduct scientific analyses of the molecular intersections between every pop song ever. For the first time, you are invited into their PopLab to peek down the microscope at all their latest research projects. Have they found an effective vaccine for the contagious Tropical House virus sweeping through the pop world? Who is the latest to benefit from their 80s RnB Conservation Program? Brush up on your Pop Periodic Table with the mad scientists themselves, and perhaps you too will be able to address problematic equations, like just how can Coldplay be so popular even though everyone you ask says they hate them? Science, people. Science.


Friday 12 July, Saturday 13 July and Sunday 14 July, Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre
New York based cabaret performer Kim David Smith salutes perennial pop goddess, Kylie Minogue, with an intimately fabulous cabaret-fantasia, celebrating Kylie’s catalogue of gargantuan hits and glittering deep cuts, from 1987’s Locomotion all the way through to 2018’s Golden. Labelled the “male Marlene Dietrich” by the New York Times, Smith deconstructs three decades of Minogue dance anthems, with music direction by the multi-Award winning Brian Nash, and with costumes by Miodrag Guberinic (Katy Perry, Madonna, Nicki Minaj).


Thursday 11 July, Friday 12 July and Saturday 13 July – Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre
Get into it, kweens! New York City goddess and diva Natalie Joy Johnson bursts into Sydney for the very first time ever. Her unique brand of outrageous stories coupled with her sensational voice makes her an unmissable event, as she guides you through everything from her experiences at her first ever swingers party to Marie Kondo. Joined by Brian Nash on the piano and a rocking band, expect everything from showtunes to Jim Steinman. She’s loud, she’s trashy, she’s relentless.


Friday 5 July, Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July – Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre
Direct from London, Solve-Along-A-Murder-She-Wrote is a hosted screening of an episode of Murder, She Wrote, featuring hilarious games and audience participation. Hosted by superfan Tim Benzie, our most interactive event includes a singalong to the theme tune with new lyrics, Cabot Cove Bingo, and a JB Fletcher Epiphany Race! With campy guest stars and 80s trivia, what more could you ask for? Jessica Fletcher always works it out, will you solve the murder?

PETIT CABARET - Just for kids!

Thursday 11 July, Friday 12 July and Saturday 13 July 13, Valhalla, Seymour Centre
Brought to you by the crazies at Cheeky Cabaret, join us for a kid’s cabaret especially for the little ones. Kids will love this circus variety show which is just a little bit less cheeky that its evening counterpart. Mums and Dads bring the little ones along to witness the skill and danger of these brilliant variety performers. Recommended for ages 5+


Wednesday 10 July, Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre
 The Sydney Cabaret Competition: Grand Final will be hosted by Trevor Ashley. On the night, one lucky winner will receive a career changing prize and the chance to perform at the festival’s closing night. A judging panel of distinguished international entertainers will also select a runners up and the audience will choose their favourite to receive an award from a total prize pool valued at over $5,000.

With a diverse range of experience, styles and sounds, the competition finalists will already have impressed a panel of judges to progress to this final, including Helpmann Award winner Matt Lee, Broadway World Award winner Catherine Alcorn, Australian cabaret treasures Phil Scott and Margi De Ferranti, and producers Mark Sutcliffe and Les Solomon.


Wednesday 10 July, Chequers, Seymour Centre
In a special one-off event, join two time Grammy and Tony award-winning artist Jennifer Holliday as she mentors four emerging Australian performers in an open Masterclass. Having been mentored herself by the legendary Michael Bennett, you’ll experience her incredible process and gain insights into acting through song and song interpretation.


Thursday 11 July, Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre
Olivier award nominated songstress Alison Jiear joins with musical director Michael Tyack to present their insights into creating and crafting a cabaret show. Working with two emerging Australian cabaret artists on their act and interpretation of material and patter, this is a behind-the-scenes look at how cabaret is created. Ali’s warm and wonderful sense of humour will shine as she nurtures and inspires the next generation.

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