Cabaret performers, Laura Burzacott and Jane Patterson, are passionate ladies. Music and stories is what drives them when they are performing their legendary act, Ginger and Tonic, but also what had driven them to seek out challenges beyond performing. Their company, Backpack on Productions, will launch a four day star studded all ladies event at Gasworks Arts Park next month – get ready because the Gasworks Cabaret Project is set to launch with a ‘sassy’ bang!
Burzacott and Patterson met performing in Ginger and Tonic in 2014 and have been performing together ever since. They had the idea to start producing together in 2016 and wanted to focus on producing shows in non-traditional venues and regional areas. “Our first events were “dinner and show” nights partnering with beautiful Victorian wineries. We love the idea of combining cabaret with beautiful locations and taste sensations,” says Patterson.
Burzacott acknowledges the she and Patterson spent many hours travelling around the country while on tour performing with Ginger and Tonic and it was on these trips that they first starting throwing around ideas of bringing amazing shows to areas and communities that don’t always get access to it. “We have a real passion for connecting community. Once we decided we wanted to work together on making these dreams a reality, things moved really fast and we were running a festival not long after registering the business,” says Burzacott.
The main function of the Project is to showcase the work of artists to new audiences and make the whole process leading up to and during the Cabaret Project a really positive experience. “Our number one priority is always the artists,” says Patterson.
“As we’re artists ourselves, we have always said that the artist comes first. We want to give artists as many opportunities to perform as possible and introduce them to audiences that they may not have had access to before,” says Burzacott.
Both acknowledge that as artists they have been able to approach this event from a unique perspective, having performed at festivals and events themselves for many years. Of course, for a business to flourish, the partners should be pretty much in sync; really like each other as well as bring their own strengths and skills to the party – tick on all counts for this very talented duo!
“We quickly discovered that we work very well together, and can stand being in the same room/car/bed together for weeks on end. We thought this was a solid starting point for starting a business together! We also come from very different performance backgrounds and have different strengths that complement each other,” says Patterson.
Burzacott remembers meeting Patterson backstage briefly at the 2013 Short and Sweet Cabaret Gala. She was blown away by Ginger and Tonic’s performance that night – fast forwarding a couple of months later and she was lucky enough to join the group. “As Jane said, we have shared many weeks together touring around this country and I’m not sick of her yet! We share the same values and have different strengths that complement each other, but the most important thing is we have each other’s backs,” says Burzacott.
New ventures are always daunting – particularly in the fickle entertainment industry. Acknowledging a few obstacles along the way, Patterson and Burzacott, are in a very happy place right now and believe not only in the power of their product but its ability to enrich both artist and audience.
“It is of course quite scary to be creating a brand new event like this, so the biggest challenge is probably dealing with all the unknowns! Our first festival was in Bright in regional Victoria, I think one of the biggest challenges is adapting what we know and what we learnt to a Melbourne audience. We’re really happy with how the program has shaped up though – a very talented group of artists,” says Patterson and Burzacott.
The ultimate goal for the partners would be for the Cabaret Project to grow, and become a flourishing event for many years to come.
“We’d love to bring a new audience through the doors of Gasworks and we’d also love for the project to be a success for many years to come,” says Burzacott.
A brilliant partnership between Gasworks and Backpack on Productions began when Director and CEO of Gasworks Arts Park, Tamara Jungwirth, attended the Bright Cabaret Project in 2018 – the first festival which Patterson and Burzacott co-produced with FAM Events and Productions. “We programmed shows and workshops over three days in the beautiful town of Bright in North East Victoria. Tamara then approached us to create a similar thing for Gasworks and the people of the City of Port Phillip and greater Melbourne. We’re very excited to have such amazing facilities at our disposal,” says Patterson and Burzacott.
With an all female line-up including multi ARIA award-winning jazz singer Sally Cameron, Green Room award-winning female a cap-pella group Ginger and Tonic, acclaimed musician and comedian Selina Jenkins, multi award-winning performer Jude Perl, and The Candy Topps – with a children’s cabaret show for the littlest arts lovers, The Candy Totts – The Gasworks Cabaret Project is sure to please.
The final words go to collaborators Patterson and Burzacott. “The shows are seriously good! There’s a diverse range of shows that we have programmed in terms of theme and story, but the thing they all have in common is great music and musicianship. We know people will enjoy themselves. Everyone we have programmed is incredibly talented. All of these amazing artists have serious skill in storytelling through music. There’s something for everyone.”
February 19 – march 2