Cabaret Festival line up launches as Virginia Gay unveils her first program

Cabaret Festival Artistic Director, Virginia Gay unveils her exquisite 2024 program

There has been much anticipation in the lead up to this year’s Cabaret Festival program launch. The wait is finally over! The program is unveiled today, March 27, with tickets going on sale from 10am.

Virginia Gay has pulled out all the stops in her first program as the Artistic Director of the Cabaret Festival. It is an exciting and expansive program that features performances that should cater for just about everyone who loves the world of cabaret. 

Glam Adelaide was lucky enough to sit down with Virginia and have a guided look through her amazing program for the 2024 Cabaret Festival. Virginia shared with us how she set about creating this year’s program.

“I asked myself how expansive can I be with the idea of cabaret? What is cabaret in its simplest form? To me, that is stories into songs. So I then looked at how elastic I could be with that simple format; how can I offer as much variety as I can to our beautiful, loyal Adelaide Cabaret festival audiences and just go, we are just pushing the edges of this form? We are just seeing what is happening at the vanguard of cabaret. What is the next generation of Cabaret looking like? What are some ways that we play with form that might not immediately feel like cabaret, but actually are stories into song? The program features all of this. There are incredible improvised musicals in there. There’s developments of new works. There’s this live-on-stage reboot of the ABC’s The Book Club with me, Jennifer Byrne, and Marieke Hardy, discussing The Great Gatsby with live music from the Gatsby era.

“The other thing that I love about cabaret and the Cabaret Festival is its tonality, and I wanted to turn up the volume on its mischief, wits, sex, sass, and community celebration. That’s what is exciting to me about this art form. That’s the stuff that gets me really electric. Like those people who are godlike performers who you would just follow into fire – that’s the stuff where I’m like, whoa, that’s cabaret. So when I’m talking about shows like Ruben Kaye’s late night show or Victoria Falconer’s late night show and Mark Nadler on the first weekend, they will be curated by that godlike force. But they will be bringing in moments and things that you will not see anywhere else in the festival, collaborations that happen basically right in front of your eyes. And if you miss them, you miss them. And that’s the glory of live performance.”

One thing that Virginia prides herself on with this program is how accessible and versatile it is. From veterans of the stage through to new and up-and-coming artists, there really is something for everyone.

“We wanted to honour exactly what makes cabaret so extraordinary. We have Patti LuPone headlining (are you kidding me? My God!), Lisa Simone performing the music of her mother Nina Simone, Fascinating Aïda, Swing On This, and Rhonda Burchmore. These are the pillars of our cabaret community. We also have looked at what the next generation of Cabaret is looking like. There’s Mel and Sam, who are two incredible new musical comedy makers who are absolutely about to become the next big thing. The same with Darby James, whose incredible show Little Squirt is so, so brilliant. There’s also a commissioned show, Life in Plastic, featuring Christie Whelan Browne. And then of course there is the development of new shows like Michelle Pearson’s Frank Ford commissioned show, Skinny.”

Headlining this year’s Cabaret Festival is none other than the queen of Broadway, Patti LuPone.

“I am so excited. I will probably drop a curtsy and I will probably fall over. I just can’t even process how lucky we are. It’s Patti LuPone! Sometimes Alex Sinclair (Executive Producer of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival) and I just scream at each other out of excitement. She also chose Adelaide to start her Australian tour which is another reason for us to be excited about this concert.”

Another amazing performance in this year’s program is Hopelessly Devoted – A Celebration of Olivia Newton-John, featuring David Campbell, Jess Hitchcock, Georgina Hopson, Christie Whelan Browne and our much loved Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

“We love working with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, so this idea sparked from conversations with them, and we wanted to have a show that really shows the beauty of them. This felt like the perfect fit also because Olivia Newton-John headlined at the Cabaret Festival in 2011, and that was such an exciting moment for our audiences. So the idea is that we can honour her legacy, her extraordinary imprint in the industry, and do it not only with a great deal of heart, but also a very great deal of fun. I have seen that there are some costumes for numbers like Physical, and I am excited.”

The whole program is jam-packed with a sensational lineup of performances. It truly is a feast for everyone.

In its 15th year, the Class of Cabaret will once again shine a light on the cabaret stars of tomorrow.

“We are nothing without the next generation of performers. The most important thing we can do is to provide a safe and welcoming space for them to develop their craft. We have not only extensive mentorship throughout the time that we work with the Class of Cabaret but also we have scholarships. That means South Australian students from more remote areas can come to Adelaide, can be supported whilst they are here, and can bring a carer or guardian with them. I have a lot of hope for this next generation and they’ve got a lot of things to say. They are mentored by the incredible Millicent Sarre and the handsome Mark Oates. They are in very good hands. Also, Class of Cabaret counts towards their SACE – I would have died for the opportunity.”

Peppered throughout the program are QR codes that take you to short videos of Virginia talking to you about the shows she has selected for the program — check them out. You can feel and see Virginia’s passion for each and every show jump right out of your device.

If you look through the 2024 Cabaret Festival program and you are left scratching your head as to what shows to see, Virginia has you covered. This year, she has curated a premium package for each day of the festival that features hand-picked shows for you to see. With one click, you can book three shows on the same day, selected for you by Virginia herself. And to sweeten the deal each package includes a drink voucher!

“We are offering several curated ways to experience this year’s program. It’s our way of saying to people to come and be part of our cabaret family. Each day has been carefully selected so the shows flow into one another and you get to have a great taste of some of the best shows on offer. There will be time in between to grab a drink at one of the many bars, or grab a bite to eat before heading off to see your next show. it’s a great way to see highlights of the festival.”

The 2024 Cabaret Festival is from 7 – 22 June at the Adelaide Festival Centre.
Tickets on sale from 10am, Wednesday 27 March.
The full program can be viewed at

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

More News

To Top