It’s all happening over in the UK! The Edinburgh Festival Fringe officially started last Friday.
In its 66th year, 2,695 shows in 279 venues and estimated 22,457 performers registered to present some of the world’s best comedy, theatre, music, musicals and opera, cabaret, dance and physical theatre, exhibitions and children’s shows. Also, for the first time, this year the programme has a spoken word category.
I’ve been scrolling and clicking away on the Festival's website, and as usual, there’s a plethora of fantastic cabaret acts from different corners from the globe. The Ed Fringe (as does the Festival’s baby sister Adelaide Fringe) attracts shows that are edgy, experimental and original.
And choosing what to see out of about 170 plus cabaret shows is no easy task. I wondered what I’d like to see if I could teleport to Edinburgh and have come up with my own must-see list.
In spirit of the London Olympics, I'll put them in groups of countries.
Click on the show titles for more info.
Artists from the UK
The brilliant Barb Jungr returns to the Ed Fringe for one night only on Friday August 10 to perform a “Best of show”, featuring superbly styled songs by Jacques Brel, Nina Simone, Jimmy Webb, Leonard Cohen plus Bob Dylan numbers from her critically acclaimed show Man in the Long Black Coat. She gets inside the songs, and reinterprets them fearlessly and imaginatively with her expressive vocals. That’s not all - she is an awe-inspiring storyteller with a flair for comedy. Check out this clip from her recent New York tour and see what I mean. With her new album Stockport to Memphis due out soon, she’s in top form.
I’ve been keeping an eye on this quirky neo-cabaret duo for a while. Their outrageous costumes, satirical social commentary, catchy original songs with a splash of comedy have been getting quite a bit of attention. It's clear that they are leading the new generation of contemporary cabaret. They are out to shock and excite. Their show is where unexpected and eccentric collide. See them in action here.
This enigmatic songstress with a haunting voice is back in Edinburgh after singing and strumming her ukulele around the world. I saw her in Adelaide as she gave the hits like “Minnie the Moocher”, “Creep” and “Show Must Go On” a dramatic makeover. She has returned to where it all started with a brand-new show with an alarming title. Must she really die? Why? How? Regardless, she’ll be be singing in her usual hypnotising fashion.
After a year with Fascinating Aïda and a tour in Australia, Sarah-Louise Young returns to the Ed Fringe with three sold out seasons under her belt there to perform her character based cabaret. This show will feature her favourite characters and music from those past three Fringes. See how she skillfully morphs into a variety of women and listen to the original songs.
You can’t go wrong with this Britain’s best satirical cabaret comedy trio. The current members are Dillie Keane (founding member), Adele Anderson and Liza Pulman and they’ll be lifting the roof off at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. The trio became YouTube sensation when they posted this song a few years ago about a budget airline but they’ve been going strong since 1983 with funny, clever songs. I’ve always loved their incisive humour and their signature tunes never grow old. I wish I could hear their new material. Some shows have already sold out, so be quick.
I adore this bundle of quirkiness that is Damsel Sophie. She is the winner 2011 and nominee 2012 Best Cabaret Adelaide Fringe who showed us how to tell stories in a very distinct style. And as a donkey, no less. After sell-out seasons the Yorkshire diva in a unitard returns with a tale of self-love gone mad and really proper theatre. Expect an hour of hilarity as Damsel Sophie takes you on the theatrical ride of your life. 'A new shining star' **** (Scotsman).
Winners of the 'Best Cabaret' Award at Adelaide Fringe 2012, irrepressible musical comedy duo Bernadette Byrne (salacious chanteuse) and Victor Victoria (freakish multi-instrumentalist) will captivate, titillate and educate with hilarious original songs, quick-witted improvisations and an arsenal of musical instruments from accordion to musical saw. Widely acclaimed as the cult hit of Edinburgh Fringe 2011, and fresh from sell-out performances at Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival this year, EastEnd Cabaret are ] 'a must-see show' (Stage)
Artists from Australia
These fabulously sassy women are smashing expectations one soaring harmony at a time. They reinvent tunes from the greatest male musicians of our time. Moving, surprising and hilarious, the ladies romp through popular culture. This is Michael Jackson, Leonard Cohen, Nine Inch Nails, Bon Jovi and Queen as you've never heard them before; masculinity mixed up with soulful female vocals and a bit of ridiculous dancing! 'The voices have just the right blend and timbre to them - all very different but in combination, perfect' (AussieTheatre.com). 'A sheer joyful explosion of sound.' (Adelaide Advertiser). The Aussies love them, and the Brits will, too.
Hailing from Brisbane, this all male vaudeville group brings a “circus-infused variety show for the not-so-faint-hearted.” Host Shivannah, love-child of the ringmaster and bearded lady, leads a ragtag team of skilful buccaneers in a contortion of vaudeville, burlesque, dance and clowning. Raw and savvy, a mix political conscience, theatrical rule-breaking with heaps of clever parody and good old fashioned entertainment. Get ready for a wild ride! There’ll never be a dull moment.
Virginia Gay (star of Winners and Losers) believes that behind every cheerful, upbeat pop song, is a rabble-rousing call to filth, depravity and loose morals. She sings pretty songs real dirty, and dirty songs real pretty. From a frighteningly beautiful Smells Like Teen Spirit, to a devastating rendition of Radiohead’s High And Dry, she will break your heart and call it foreplay. Reckon Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance can’t survive light operetta? Oh… think again. ‘Naughty, sexy… dirty… silly, but most of all sheer, unadulterated brilliance’ (Sunshine Coast Daily). Every song hides a secret.
Indulge your inner (or not-so-inner) nerd with Keira Daley's award-winning smash hit cabaret - a rollicking, fact-packed cabaret tribute to some of history's greatest minds, from Marie Curie to Ada Lovelace, via that woman who invented Liquid Paper. With pianist Mark Chamberlain in the key of nerd. 'Full of warmth, quirky wit, and terrific singing' (Stagewhispers.com.au). 'Fun, fresh, laugh-out-loud humour ... a rollicking show' (Aussietheatre.com.au). Read an interview with Keira Daley here.
Join the Wonderful Sisters in their classic USO show with a twist. Can the sisters survive when the unthinkable happens? All's fair in love and war, but nobody mentioned peace... Featuring a score of 1940s inspired songs, written by Australian songwriter Karin Muiznieks, and a cast of Melbourne's finest professional cabaret entertainers. World War Wonderful has performed at Melbourne's Comedy and Cabaret Festivals and at Adelaide Fringe. Nominated for Best Original Songs at the Green Room Awards, and winner Most Popular Show at the 2009 Melbourne Comedy Festival. ‘Fiercely intelligent, laugh-out-loud funny.’ (AustralianComedyReview.com). ‘Whip-crack smart satire’ (ArtsHub.co.uk).
Artists from USA and Canada
The 'cabaret superstar' (New York Magazine), comedienne/chanteuse from New York revives the genre by combining vintage arrangements and theatrical explorations of pop songs from every decade with original material. Revel in the luscious vocals of this Grammy-winning diva as she combines glamour, wit and insane charm. A fascinating mix of bawdy humour and polished hyper-femininity, the brazen blonde will have you rolling with laughter while she 'blows your heart and goes down on your mind’ (Village Voice). This marks Lady Rizo's Edinburgh debut.
Named Best of Fest (Scotsman). After two years of sell-out shows and five-star reviews, the undisputed queen of comedy cabaret returns to rock Edinburgh to its foundations! The European premiere of Gold mixes Matthews' unique style of comedy with her stunning mash ups by artists such as Queen, Lady Gaga, and more. The result is always hysterical, heart-wrenching, shocking and gold. Best Cabaret Performer (NOW, Toronto). ‘#1 cabaret in New York city' (NiteLifeExchange.com). 'Redheaded Canadian goddess of cabaret, a real superstar' (Skinny).
August 3-27, 2012