Being the young upstart of Melbourne’s Festival scene gives us the opportunity to do things a little bit different. So rather than write about how fantastic this Festival is going to be, we jumped into the future and retrieved this blog post by a happy audience member mid-way through the Festival.

Read on for a review … in reverse!

A Review – The 2011 Melbourne Cabaret Festival:

The weekend came around again, accompanied by the Winter blues. We and all our friends had spent too long hibernating at home and needed to revive our social lives, so we got together a group of six to join us for a night at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

The first impression was seriously… impressive! The imposing South Melbourne Town Hall was lit up like a kitsch wedding cake and we couldn’t wait to see what was going on inside this massive building that we had driven past, but never set foot in. Hub of the Festival, this grand architectural masterpiece was warm and buzzing with hundreds of keen audience members. After checking in our winter coats and scarves, we explored the quirky Emerald and Monkey bar lounges.  We settled on the Monkey bar, happy to perch on a stool and soak up the Festival atmosphere while served by friendly (and gorgeous) young staff decked out in their cabaret finery.  We chose a glass of rich red: coincidentally branded after the show we were about to see.

Then it was show time and into the Grand Hall we went, where the twinkling star backdrop and flickering table lights caused a sharp intake of breath and set an intimate scene for a night to remember. More lovely young ladies, greeting us with smiles and fishnets, took our dinner and drink orders.  Our pre-booked two-course dinner was tasty, without being pretentious, and was served quickly straight from the hands of the onsite chefs.

Festival Directors Neville Sice (left) and David Read

As we finished our meal the music struck up and the show began.  Le Gateau Chocolat from the UK was our choice and we knew instantly that we had selected wisely. This larger-than-life international star, with his outrageous costumes, rich baritone voice and wicked sense of humour kept us captivated for over an hour and, after the encore applause had died away, we headed off to the cruisey lounge surrounds of the Emerald Bar, to seek out yet another drink. 

We just had to see more!  And with 78 performances at the Festival and a fresh show starting every 15 minutes across seven venues, there was no shortage of choices.  To sample as much as we could in one night we chose the 10:30pm Best of the Fest show, hosted by the hilarious Sammy J, who introduced a talented line-up of 15 minute Festival acts, representing a great sampler of the shows on offer.

At 11:30 it was too early to go home and we had the music lust, so we decided to explore the other Festival venues surrounding the Town Hall in the Emerald Hill Arts & Cultural precinct.  We paused outside to watch the free 3D Moritz Light & Sound Show projected onto the Town Hall facade, on our way to the Liber Room, just across the road.

After a short stroll across the green hilltop, the graceful ambience of the Liber Room was yet another surprise, with bentwood chairs and small tables glowing in low lamplight, reminiscent of an Edwardian Library.  We were here for the Festival’s world class piano bar entertainment – some provided by the talented venue staff, who just picked up a microphone and sang like angels.  Snacking on cheese platter and enjoying a little coffee jolt from an espresso martini, we sang along, offered up our requests, and thrilled to the party pieces of the Festival performers who dropped by to sing a number.  Time flew until the venue closed at 1:00am.

With 78 performances over six nights, and bars and lounges we haven’t even visited yet, we’ll be back tomorrow night for a completely new experience. This time we plan to explore The Butterfly Club, which is famous for its cocktail list and catch a show there, then back to the Monkey Bar for supper and another late show, perhaps in the Lamond Room (named after cabaret royalty Toni Lamond, of course), the historic Council Chamber, or I’ve heard the Ballantyne Room is an amazing venue.

All those choices – we’d better book online right now!

Keep Reading:

Melbourne Cabaret Festival FREE TICKET FRENZY!!Melbourne Cabaret Festival FREE TICKET FRENZY!!