Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: Adelaide Tonight

A nostalgic trip down memory lane for Baby-Boomer Adelaideans

A nostalgic trip down memory lane for Baby-Boomer Adelaideans

Presented by: Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 16 June, 2023

Dripping in the glitz and glamour of yesteryear, Bob Downe and Anne ‘Willsy’ Wills have brought the golden age of variety television to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Opening some seriously vintage adverts beamed above the retro stage layout (including a real camera from the 1960s Channel 9 studios), audiences are transported to another time.

Bob and Willsy are the hosts for the night. Between them they have more costume changes than a Madonna concert and they aren’t ashamed to revel in it. From sparkly frocks that skinned about thirty fraggles to gold tracksuits, not to mention Bob’s “Ken wig” it’s all the polyster we could muster from the 60s returning to the stage.

Throughout the hour-long show, guests join the hosts and talented band of Sam Leske (Guitar), Nick Sinclair (Double Bass), Chris Neale (Drums) and Bev Kennedy (Piano) for a wide variety of songs, banter and nostalgia.

Willsy’s sister, Susan joins for a duet and some brilliant archive footage of their time entertaining the troop, as well as Willsy’s first performance on the Festival Theatre stage back in 1973. Pastel Vespa brings a Spanish vibe to the Beatles dueting with Bob. Michael Griffiths goes bi-coastal with some Peter Allen. The banter is highly entertaining to the target audience demographic, but a little tired and dated. Some of the jokes punch down and are not particularly aimed at a contemporary audience. But it was a different time; a time when Bob Down was considered risqué. He walked so that contemporary performers, like Reuben Kaye in the theatre next door, could run.

The highlight and real humour of the night is special guest Jan van de Stool (Queenie van de Zandt) who covers a controversial competition finale and sings an epic final number, haunted by someone with a truly awesome voice (would Queenie please take a bow).

Every performer is strong and clearly experienced idols of Australian TV and stage. Overall, this type of variety entertainment certainly has its place in history, and those who were young and exploring their liberal freedom in the day will thoroughly enjoy every minute. For some however, it might be better to move on to fresher and more relevant perspectives of the world.

Reviewed by Hayley Horton

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Venue: The Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: Thursday 15 June – Sunday 18 June, 6pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $49.00

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