Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2021

Alan Cumming, Artistic Director of the 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, has announced the first six shows of his program, with the rest to be announced next March.

Cumming, who takes over the role of AD in 2021, will perform the world premiere of his new show Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age. He blew Australian audiences away when he performed his cabaret show Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs here in 2017. His new show will close the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, with a one-off performance on 26 June.

Cumming’s famous bar Club Cumming in New York, has inspired a late-night event, which will take place each weekend during the festival in The Famous Spiegeltent. The venue will host “hedonistic delights, live performances and raucous Cumming DJ sets until 2am” as the festival blurb puts it.

“It will be a bacchanalian celebration dance party with performances, games, and surprises! Anything could happen, and hopefully it will. But the spirit of Club Cumming – all colours, all genders, all sexualities, and kindness, provocation and fun above all – I hope will infuse the entire festival,” said Cumming.

Alan Cumming. Photograph © Margarita Menard

The two-week festival will open on 11 June with the annual Variety Gala, which will be hosted by Adelaide’s own Hans and directed by Mitchell Butel, with musical direction by Mark Simeon Ferguson. The line-up will be announced next March.

Adelaide Festival Centre will present the world premiere of L’Hotel. Conceived by Craig Ilott and Stuart Couzens, and directed by Ilott, the Space Theatre at the AFC will be transformed into a French hotel brimming with bohemian verve. Audiences will sip champagne and nibble on cheese, becoming voyeurs as they watch a cast of characters who live at the hotel. The immersive show will feature  performers from the world of cabaret, burlesque and circus, among them Brendan Maclean, Bri Emrich and Lexi Strumolo.

Betty Blokk Buster, which premiered at the 2020 Sydney Festival, will also stake its claim in Adelaide. This 21st-century take on Reg Livermore’s seminal 1975 show Betty-Blokk Buster Follies, stars Josh Quong Tart and is also directed by Craig Ilott.

Cabaret artist Selina Jenkins will perform her show BOOBS in Adelaide for the first time. Described as “a ground-breaking tale of mammary proportions”, the show follows one woman and her two boobs through a devastating, life-changing decision with humour and insight, pushing the boundaries of cabaret as an artform.

“The restrictions COVID-19 has placed on our plans has actually been a positive in terms of my desire for the focus of Adelaide Cabaret Festival ‘21: the spotlight is firmly on Australian cabaret and talent,” said Cumming.

All the events are currently being sold in the hope that the venues will be able to operate at full capacity. The festival will adhere to SA Health advice, which may require tickets to be reissued closer to the performance date.

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