Big Name Announced for #AdCabFest

Tony Award Winning Alan Cumming First International AD

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021

Alan Cumming. Photo Margarita Menard

Adelaide Festival Centre has announced that acclaimed cabaret and all-round performer, writer and social activist Alan Cumming as the Artistic Director for Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021.

Alan Cumming will be the first-ever international Artistic Director in the festival’s history when Adelaide Cabaret Festival celebrates its 21st anniversary next year.

His appointment was announced on the final night of Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2020: Bite-Sized & Home Delivered, the online offering in place of the 2020 festival.

The Scottish entertainer boasts an illustrious career as an actor, comedian, singer, writer, filmmaker, author and Broadway and cabaret performer. He has performed with Jay Z and Liza with a Z, hosted the Tony Awards and was nominated for an Emmy for doing so; and lives in New York where he owns cabaret bar, Club Cumming.

He won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as the emcee in Broadway show Cabaret and received multiple Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG nominations for his role as political spinmeister Eli Gold on seven seasons of The Good Wife. Alan has received over forty awards for his humanitarianism and social activism, including his contributions to the arts and LGBTQ equality.

He most recently performed at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2017 in two sold-out nights of Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs. Billboard said of the show, “he’s an icon to behold – he is unapologetically himself, and with a talent like that, he has no need to apologise”.

Time Magazine called him one of the three most fun people in show business, a title Alan will be sure to uphold when he returns to Adelaide next year with a stellar line-up of local and international artists at Adelaide Festival Centre.

Cumming said of his appointment:  “I first came to Adelaide over thirty years ago and have always loved the welcome I’ve received there. And of course cabaret, with a big and small c, has always been very close to my heart!

“So to be asked to come and curate Adelaide Cabaret Festival after this missing year, to be able to bring together the most vibrant of the world’s cabaret performers, to ask them to entertain us, provoke us, make sense of the maelstrom we’re living through, and most of all remind us why cabaret is such a vital form of connection between performer and audience – well, it doesn’t get much better!

“And apparently you have some nice wine too!”

Julia Zemiro. Photo Diana Melfi

Adelaide Festival Centre Creative Director Cabaret & Commercial Ebony Bott said: “Alan Cumming is the master of cabaret – and indeed the many artistic pursuits he has put his hand to!”

The announcement coincided with the final post of Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s 2020 online offering, which saw more than 85,000 engagements across the festival’s social media channels. Australian and international cabaret stars shared pithy posts in response to the classic line from Life Is A Cabaret: “What Good Is Sitting Alone in Your Room?” and these were collectively seen over 1.3 million times since the online program kicked off on June 5.

The line-up included Cabaret Icon Award recipient David Campbell and Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2020 Artistic Director Julia Zemiro.

Artistic Director for both 2019 and 2020 Julia Zemiro said: “I will never forget my time with Adelaide Cabaret Festival – 2019 was so exhilarating to deliver and Adelaide welcomed me so, so warmly.  Our cabaret program for 2020 was to be a full complement to the year before but COVID-19 made us pause in the most profound and serious way.

 “We channelled some of these feelings through our online Bite-Sized & Home Delivered cabaret offering, asking artists to respond to this strange new state of the world, personally and politically –- the true trademark of cabaret.  

 “And to our marvellous cabaret audiences: thank you for your patronage. See you in the foyers next year. Your new AD is going to blow your minds. I can’t wait!”

Douglas Gautier, Adelaide Festival Centre CEO, said of Zemiro:  “During her two years at the helm, Julia Zemiro has done a wonderful job of leading Adelaide Cabaret Festival through the successes and challenges presented this year. She has been an outstanding advocate for South Australia’s much-loved winter festival, and we thank her for her dedication.

“We look forward to celebrating next year’s festival in person with the consummate entertainer Alan Cumming leading the way as Artistic Director of Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021.”


Photo Camille Cohen
He has performed with Jay Z and Liza with a Z; he has won a Tony, hosted the Tonys and been nominated for an Emmy for doing so; he has a soap called Cumming In A Bar, and a bar called Club Cumming; he made back-to-back films with Stanley Kubrick and the Spice Girls; he has played God, the Devil, Hitler, the Pope, a teleporting superhero, Hamlet, all the parts in Macbeth, General Batista of Cuba, a goat opposite Sean Connery, Dionysus, a Smurf (twice) the EmCee in Cabaret (thrice), a James Bond baddie – oh, and political spinmeister Eli Gold on seven seasons of The Good Wife for which he received multiple Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG award nominations; he is the author of five books including a #1 New York Times best-selling memoir; he played the first ever gay leading role on an US network drama, CBS’s Instinct. He appeared on Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, topless in Playgirl and naked on the cover of his second album.
He has received over forty awards for his humanitarianism and social activism, three honorary doctorates, both the Great Scot and Icon of Scotland awards from his homeland and was made an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) for his contributions to the arts and LBGT equality by the Queen, whose portrait was taken down when his was unveiled at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2014.
He has sung in concert halls across the globe including the Sydney Opera House, the London Palladium, the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, and Billboard said of his last concert tour, Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs: “He’s an icon to behold – he is unapologetically himself, and with a talent like that, he has no need to apologise.”
For an overview of Alan’s entire career, click here.
Twitter: @alancumming
Instagram: @alancummingsnaps
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