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Review - Sheila Bradley in The Cat, The Rat & Me

Contributed by Nikki Aitken.

Sheila Bradley enters the beautiful stage at the Kew Courthouse clad in a leopard print cape, clutching a suitcase and declares through song that due to the Australians’ love of beer she would like to stay. Her warmth envelops the crowd and she treats the audience with stories of her long and colourful career in showbusiness - and with men! She tells us about her mother who was the antithesis of a show mum, booking her for kippers as her first paid gig and allowing her to play the fairy on top of the Christmas tree dressed as a grasshopper. From the outset, this show is delightfully charming and continues without fault in this manner to the end.

A self proclaimed former soprano turned bass- baritone, Bradley still has the chops to sing a rousing rendition of ‘Guess who I saw today’ and her love of music hall songs and shanties that she has sung since 1961 allows her to belt out a wonderful ‘oom pah pah’ including the audience of which some knew ALL the words!

Sheila had her first break in the West End when she was promoted to first understudy in Kismet timed perfectly with the lead declaring she would take a holiday and subsequently fired. She then toured around Europe and regaled witty stories about singing a ‘My Fair Lady’ medley when there was indeed a Sgt Henry Higgins in the audience.

The stand out song for me was ‘Is there a straight man in the house.’ She asked if there was ‘a straight man, not a great man, one who thought Prada was a car in the house.’ Her innuendo was faultless and the audience were with her 100% of the way.

With the completely understated charm and poise that only true professionals with nothing to prove possess, this show left me grinning from ear to ear.

Sheila Bradley plays at the Kee Courthouse this Melbourne cabaret festival. Go and see a consumate professional show you how it’s done!


Sheila Bradley in The Cat, The Rat & Me

Sheila Bradley, accompanied by Craig Schneider

July 13, 14 & 15 2012 @ 7pm

Kew Courthouse


 Book online here 



Lights, Cabaret, Action!

Contributed by Nikki Aitken.


Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012 – Opening Week


100 performers, 80 shows, 10 nights. YES! This is my kind of fortnight. The Melbourne Cabaret Festival, saved this year by the power of the people (by way of one big ‘’ campaign that raised over $18,000), begins this Thursday the 12th of July. 

Now in it’s third year, the festival has grown from a 6 nights of shows based solely in South Melbourne to a 10 night extravaganza spanning across a number of venues across Melbourne. Included in these aree of course The Butterfly Club (formerly run by festival Directors David Read and Neville Sice), Chapel Off Chapel, Bohemia Cabaret Club and the Kew Courthouse. One can squeeze in 3 shows a night if they wish, and that is exactly what I’m a gonna do! I’m hydrating, because I know there will be much laughter, I’m saving on my sleeping, because I know I will crave that shortly and most of all, I’m getting my hands warmed up for the raucous applause I will be giving to the acts I’m about to see.

So what are they? How kind of you to ask. Below is my schedule for the first half of the festival. Reviews of the shows will be posted as soon as my little fingers can type them up so look out for them over the next few days!

Whilst I’m seeing a lot of shows – this certainly isn’t the definitive list so check out to see what YOU might fancy getting along to! Get in quick as some shows have already sold out and 10 days can go by real quick if you don’t organise yourself! So get looking and get booking NOW.


My Melbourne Cabaret Festival Schedule – Opening Week 



The Opening Night Gala


 7:00pm Sheila Bradley in The Cat, The Rat & Me

8.30pm Megan Shorey: Undies

10:30pm Geppetto (Emma Dean and JakeDiefenbach Present ‘An End To Dreaming’


7:00pm Brecht, Bilbao and Beyond

8:30pm The Burlesque Underground

10:30pm Late Night Piano Bar at Bohemia – Trevor Jones


6:00pm Caity Fowler ‘Lists of Invisible Things’

8:45pm The Paris Walk


8:00pm ‘Here I am’ The music of Anthony Costanzo



Cabaret Festival's Adelaide Focus


From it’s inception, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival has been committed to presenting the world’s finest and most exciting cabaret performers and sharing their knowledge and experience with emerging artists. 

Directors, composers and performers have offered masterclasses, candidly discussed their work in conversation and mentored local performers. The Festival supports Australian cabaret competitions in offering performance opportunities to selected outstanding entrants. 

This year, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s mentoring program for secondary students, now known as “Class of Cabaret”, is providing ongoing learning and performing opportunities to 27 young performers from across Adelaide and beyond. The students are tutored in all aspects of cabaret, including repertoire selection, vocal coaching, stage craft and presentation. The program, which draws upon a wide pool of resources within the Festival team, is an ongoing investment in nuturing the interest and potential careers these students have in cabaret and the performing arts.

Over the past twelve years, the Festival has developed an audience of thousands of South Australians who love cabaret and is always keen to introduce them to fresh talent. The Adelaide Stage is a new initiative to offer local performers of all ages a chance to present a 10 minute spot and capture the attention of some of that audience! This fantastic showcase opportunity is ideal if you have a show to promote, or if you have some new material you want to try on an audience. The Adelaide Stage will be in the Piano Bar, Friday June 15 from 7.30-9.30pm. It is a non-ticketed event, which means it is open to anyone in and around the Festival that evening, and of course open to family or friends who would like to come in for a drink and enjoy some South Australian cabaret.


Those interested in participating should email by Sunday June 10 Monday June 11 with a single paragraph introducing themselves and a rough idea of the material they would like to present. To keep the flow between acts as smooth as possible, we are primarily looking for solo vocalists with one instrument accompaniment, although variations on that configuration will be considered. Artists will be notified by Monday evening 11/6/12 whether their submission has been successful. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival will provide a pianist for the evening, basic production, and the chance to perform at the hub of the world’s largest cabaret festival!


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The Perfect Pop Princess

Actress and singer Lea Salonga originated the role Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, winning Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards. She also played the roles of Eponine and Fantine in Les Miserables on Broadway and provided the singing voices of Disney princesses Jasmine and Mulan.

Lea headlines the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, performing this weekend with Vanessa Scammell conducting the Adelaide Art Orchestra.

Richard Jay-Alexander was Executive Producer of Miss Saigon on Broadway and subsequently directed Salonga’s Carnegie Hall debut in November 2005. In this excerpt from an extensive forthcoming interview, Richard remembers working with Lea as they prepared specialty material for her concert.





Richard Jay-Alexander:

Lea Salonga is so unique and so gifted. 

I worked with her on Miss Saigon and I worked with her on Les Mis. I asked her to come and play Eponine for us, back in the day and I also did her Carnegie Hall debut.

That was a fantastic show because when she called me from the Phillipines she told me she was pregnant. She was very nervous about it but I asked of she’d be willing to announce her pregnancy (during the show).

In the Richard Jay world, if you’re going to play Carnegie Hall, it’s gotta matter. It’s not like the old days where Harry Belafonte would play there once a year or whenever he had a new album. You may never be there again, so you need specialty material!

Lea played the original Annie in the Phillipines and used to listen to Andrea McArdle so I had Andrea as a guest and they sang Tomorrow together.

Lea did Miss Saigon with Liz Callaway, who was the original Lizzie. We told the story about how Liz was pregnant while we rehearsing Miss Saigon, but had her baby and made it back for the first preview. Lea loved the idea, we had Liz’s son stand up in the audience and it brought the house down.”

So I started with Married, a song she did not know from Cabaret. 

Oh the world can change, it can change like that, due to one little word - married.

Lea says “I love embarrassing my husband” and we did a bit of dialogue along the lines of “ever since we got married, everybody’s like, when are you going to have a baby, Lea? Not now, no rush. That used to be my stock line. Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at a very happy pregnant girl at the end of her first trimester.”

We did The Story Goes On (from Baby) and Lea was joined on stage by Liz Callaway singing and all these things I feel and more…your child is next. I had permission from (Baby’s writers) Maltby and Shire. They came to rehearsal and it was very, very thrilling.

We ended Act 1 with I’d Give My Life For You. It’s fantastic when you have a career like Lea’s. I’ve done Carnegie Hall a lot, but this was a historic night.

Lea has one of those voices - it’s the perfect pop voice, like Karen Carpenter in that it’s seamless and has no break. We sang a lot of great stuff and she can be very funny.

I remember one song she was ‘mixing’ and I said “oh no, no, no, no, no. Stop! You’re not mixing anything. This is balls to the wall, I don’t care if your vocal cords are bloody.” She looked alarmed and I said “I’m kidding. Sort of.”

But the point is you’ve gotta give it up. It’s Carnegie Hall, not science. She did, and she got eleven standing ovations. It was a big triumph.


L-R: Richard Jay-Alexander, Lea Salonga & Richard Maltby (lyricist Miss Saigon & Baby)


Lea Salonga

with Vanessa Scammell conducting the Adelaide Art Orchestra

June 9 & 10, 2012 @ 8pm

Adelaide Festival Theatre

See booking link below for ticket prices

Book at BASS 


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Broadway Lied To Me


Guest post contributed by Lucy Russell

 Founded in 2011, the Australian Cabaret Summer School provides an opportunity for performers interested in cabaret to work with experienced mentors to develop and hone their skills. Lucy Russell was in the inaugural class of 2011. Having trained in Melbourne and been cast in many local theatre productions, she was no stranger to performing, but it wasn’t until she discovered the open mic night Cabaret Live! that Lucy really caught the cabaret bug. She premiered her debut show Spankin’ New in 2011 before combining two childhood dreams (being a performer on stage and being a nun) to devise Sister Mary Lucy, which she will perform from June 2 as part of the Cabaret Fringe Festival.


Like all young things with a song in my heart and a spring in my step, I’ve always been a big fan of the Broadway musical. So when all the other kids in the school yard were playing their Pokemon and trading their Transformers (?) I was choreographing ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile’ from Annie behind the gym in the hope of beating those yuppies with their S Club 7 routine at the next Talent Show. 


Broadway musicals have always served me well as a point of reference in life; my knowledge of Cabaret alone got me through Year 12 Modern History, I have an in-depth understanding of just what makes a jellicle cat and I can spell ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ (in song) like a pro. But more recently I’ve discovered that the Broadway musical may have left me with a few knowledge blind spots – which led me to creating this list of ways BROADWAY LIED TO ME. 

Street gangs don’t dance. No matter how polite you are, asking your local thug to demonstrate a nice plié is going to end badly, at best.

After numerous fights discussions with Religious Education teachers at school, I’ve had to accept that bedazzled jumpsuits were not a fashion staple in biblical times. Neither were Superman t-shirts or afros. 

You will not get into a Broadway chorus line just by telling a wacky story in a showy song and dance number. Also, monologuing at the director or reminding them how you’re too good for the chorus probably won’t help either…

Grease might be the word, but which word? How does it have groove and meaning? When I think ‘Grease’ I think bad hair and ACNE – wait, that sounds a lot like Kenickie – is that what they’re talking about?

Tapping will not (always) make things better. Especially in Modern Philosophy exams. In Modern Philosophy exams, it will get you kicked out. 


Taking on Nazis is not generally considered a crucial part of being a nun. Which, for the record, makes those nuns in Sound of Music pretty bad-ass. Going above and beyond the call of duty – Afro’d Jesus Christ from Godspell would be proud…


On that note, if you too have felt the bitter sting of Broadway’s lies, you should come see my show, Sister Mary Lucy at La Boheme for the Cabaret Fringe Festival. We can bond, drink some Diet Coke and pray to Julie Andrews for a spoon full of sugar to find a way to climb every mountain… 

Sister Mary Lucy

Lucy Russell, with Peter Johns at the piano

June 2, 3 & 16 2012 @ 6pm

La Boheme

$20/$15 ($15 groups of 6+)

Book at BASS