Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision

With International Boarders still closed, RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision brought a much needed spark of colour, glitz, and humour to Adelaide.


Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 25 June 2021

RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision brings a much-needed spark of colour, glitz, and humour to Adelaide after a dreary week of cold, wet weather. Bringing all the elements of the much loved TV show to the stage, RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision is a fast past, laugh-a-minute, whirlwind tour through Eurovision’s history.

Originally a highly successful SBS TV series, RocKwiz was a live music trivia quiz show that focused on rock music. Each episode featured different guest musicians and artists who performed live, as well as partaking in the quiz. Teams were made up of 4 audience members, plus 2 music icons. RocKwiz first aired in 2005 and very quickly became a weekly favourite in many Australian households. In 2019, after SBS announced it would no longer be filming any further episodes of RocKwiz, the show changed its format to “live on stage” versions, and has toured Australia.

RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision was hosted by former Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director, Julia Zemiro, dazzling the audience in her glittery outfit and impressive home-made crown, an imitation of the crown Kate Miller-Heidke wore as part of her 2019 entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Julia was joined by RocKwiz regulars Brian Nankervis as the scorer and adjudicator, Dugald MacAndrew as the roadie and “human scoreboard” and the sensational RocKwiz Orchestra, under the musical direction of Clio Renner. Julia and Brian’s banter throughout the night was excellent. They work well together as hosts, feeding each other’s witty, sarcastic commentary.

As you would expect, RocKwiz would not be complete without celebrity guest panelists and performances, and boy, did the show deliver! Australia’s 2021 Eurovision contestant, Montaigne, smashed out a brilliant rendition of Technicolour (Australia’s entry for this year, that she also composed) before joining her team with her infectious, warm personality. Current artistic director of the Cabaret Festival, Alan Cumming, brought the house down with a rendition of Mein Herr (from Cabaret). His cheeky persona and wealth of Eurovision knowledge was an advantage to his team. Dami Im was also scheduled to perform her 2016 Eurovision entry, Sound Of Silence, but due to current COVID-19 border restrictions, she was unable to come across. However, RocKwiz orchestra’s guitarist, Ophelia, stepped up and delivered an impressive performance of Dami’s entry. No Eurovision performance would be complete without Adelaide’s favourite glitzy German, Hans. In his usual style, Hans brought flair, sequins, humour, and his trademark commentary in bucket-loads.

The real stars of the evening were the four audience panelists. Prior to the performance, six Eurovision tragics put their hands up to battle it out in a 22-question quiz to see who would win the chance to participate in the performance. Simone, Con, Lyn and Max were the successful applicants. Each had a fantastic wealth of Eurovision knowledge, with Simone and Lyn both having been to a Eurovision Song Contest in person. However, it was Max who I found to be the real winner in this impressive lineup. Currently in year 10, he has a vast wealth of knowledge about the whole history of the competition, was not shy in throwing cheeky comments into the banter, and did not seem phased one bit to be sitting next to the legendary Alan Cumming – this reviewer would have been in a star-struck, babbling mess.

Whilst originally created for TV, RocKwiz certainly suits this stage adaptation extremely well. With the only scripted material presented being the questions asked, the whole show is mostly improvised, creating a fantastic night of hilarity. The whole cast was impressive, and with international borders still closed, it was wonderful to be able to celebrate all that is Europe and Eurovision without having to leave the comfort of the Adelaide Festival Theatre. 

Reviewed by: Ben Stefanoff
Twitter: @theartsislife

Season Ended – One Night Only

Rating out of 5: 5

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