Sydney Cabaret Festival 2019

New Cabaret Festival for Sydney 

July 5 – 14

July this year will see the inaugural Sydney Cabaret Festival take place in July. Celebrating both international and Australian cabaret acts, this festival is sure to liven up Sydney.

The 2019 Sydney Cabaret Festival features the legendary Tony Award-winning Jennifer Holliday, appearing for the first time in Australia, alongside local legends like Phil Scott and Jonathan Biggins, to New York downtown darling Natalie Joy Johnson. UK’s most famous duo Frisky and Mannish return after a ten year hiatus, as does the thrilling diva Alison Jiear, described as having a “bring down the house voice” by the New York Times. Sydney favourite Tim Draxl will appear in a world premiere of his new show, along with Kim David Smith, Reuben Kaye and Brian Nash, plus circus and variety show Cheeky Cabaret, direct from their home in Brunswick Heads. Australian pop culture fan Tim Benzie returns to Sydney with the hilarious Solve-Along-A-Murder-She-Wrote. The Festival also includes a cabaret for children, Petit Cabaret, and masterclasses with Jennifer Holliday and Alison Jiear, as well as the Grand Final of the restored Sydney Cabaret Competition.

Trevor Ashley Sydney Cabaret Festival
Trevor Ashley

Festival Artistic Director Trevor Ashley is thrilled with the program he has assembled. “I have loved Cabaret as long as I can remember. As a confused child growing up I discovered this incredible artform that celebrated unique personalities, and more than that, an irreplaceable bond between artist and audience. Seeing artists like Lorrae Desmond, Julie Anthony and Geraldine Turner live, made me believe I could be anyone I wanted to be. It changed my life.

I have long dreamed that we could bring cabaret home to Sydney so I am immensely proud to present the inaugural Sydney Cabaret Festival, which in its first outing brings together some of my favourite artists from around Australia and the globe. From our headliner, the legendary Jennifer Holliday, through to Alison Jiear, Kim David Smith and Reuben Kaye – three artists at the top of their game, who were born here, but now call London and New York home, there is something for everyone. Variety, comedy, jazz, and more belting than you could poke a stick at, we are coming out with a bang.

I invite you to celebrate this truly life changing artform, and hope that you’ll join not only artists you know and love, but take a chance on someone you’ve never heard of before. Every single one of these acts is at the top of their game, and I can’t believe we will have them all in one place at the same time,” said Ashley.

In the immortal words of Fred Ebb: What good is sitting alone in your room? Come to the Cabaret.



5-14 July 2019
Bookings and more information at



ALL-STAR GALA – Friday 5 July, City Recital Hall

Hosted by Festival Director Trevor Ashley, the All-Star Gala is the most glamorous amuse bouche anyone could hope for, with a taste of what’s to come across the festival. Surprise guest artists, big laughs and sequinned glamour await you… so step up and step out, and join us for this one-night-only opening event. This is your chance to be at the opening night, rubbing shoulders with the festival glitterati at this gala event as Cabaret finally comes home to Sydney.

Jennifer Holliday Sydney Cabaret Festival
Jennifer Holliday

JENNIFER HOLLIDAY – Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July, Sydney Town Hall

Tony and Grammy Award winning Broadway icon Jennifer Holliday makes her Australian Debut, exclusively for Sydney Cabaret. With two Grammy Awards, nine studio albums and five Top 10 singles on the R&B and Dance Charts to her credit, Jennifer will dazzle with her powerhouse vocals in an electrifying evening of Broadway, jazz standards, originals and soulful pop.

Her show stopping, heart-wrenching performance of And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going in the original production of Dreamgirls is considered one of the all-time great performances in a Broadway musical. She recently returned to Broadway in the role of sexy cabaret singer Shug Avery in the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple. She has been proclaimed a Broadway legend by critics and fans alike, and you, and you…you’re gonna love her.

CHEEKY CABARET – Friday 5 July – Sunday 14 July, Valhalla, Seymour Centre

Who knew that the sleepy picturesque village of Brunswick Heads on the north coast of NSW would become the cultural hotspot that has most of the country talking? Stumbling across an unloved theatre on the beach that had been closed for 30 years, the creators of international, award-winning smash hits La Soirée and Club Swizzle had an immediate life-changing epiphany and after much blood, sweat and tears, the Brunswick Picture House was born.

Cheeky Cabaret Sydney Cabaret Festival
Cheeky Cabaret

The signature show of this charming little venue, the Cheeky Cabaret, has grown up quickly and is now venturing out and stretching its legs in the big smoke at the Sydney Cabaret Festival in July. The black sheep of the La Soirée cabaret family and very naughty younger brother, the Cheeky Cabaret is an irreverent, saucy and highly mischievous mash of circus, vaudeville, comedy, new burlesque and everything in between, and has been a runaway success. With three years of sold out shows under its belt, the Cheeky Cabaret‘s reputation has rippled up and down the coast, with its tongue placed firmly in cheek. If you’re a fan of flavours other than vanilla, then open up wide…the Cheeky Cabaret is just for you.

A CENTENARY CELEBRATION OF ELLA FITZGERALD – ALISON JIEAR – Friday 12 July and Saturday 13 July, Chequers, Seymour Centre

Following sell-out shows in London, Laurence Olivier Award-nominated vocalist Alison Jiear returns to her home country with her phenomenal jazz  quartet to perform music made famous by the “First  Lady  of  Song”  with a show packed full of iconic standards such as A Tisket A Tasket, Ev’ry Time We Say  oodbye, Lady be Good, Hernando’s Hideaway and That ‘Ol Black Magic. One of the greatest voices in cabaret you’ll ever hear, Alison is a class act, and will move you to tears.

NO CABARET FOR OLD MEN – PHIL SCOTT AND JONATHAN BIGGINS – Friday 5 July, Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July – Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre

Tim Draxl Sydney Cabaret Festival
Tim Draxl

Direct from the Tilbury Hotel (via 46 years in the Wharf Revue), the Tilbury Room at Sydney Cabaret proudly resents Jonathan Biggins and Phil Scott giving a veritable masterclass in cabaret – with neither the mastery nor class. Together, these lightly-seasoned performers examine the many strands of the cabaret art form – Audition Cabaret, Name-Drop Cabaret, Weimar, Broadway, Political and the ever-popular “No Other Avenue is Available to Me” cabaret stylings of the under-employed.

LOVE IS A DRAG – TIM DRAXL – Wednesday 10 July and Thursday 11 July, Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre

Actor and singer Tim Draxl returns to the cabaret stage with an exciting project that re-creates the 1960s cult album of male-to-male love songs Love Is A Drag. The melodic, haunting work comprises American standards previously recorded only by women yet here interpreted by a male crooner whose identity was deliberately shrouded in secrecy. Songs include My Man, The Man I Love, He’s Funny That Way, Bewitched and Mad About The Boy.

Love is a Drag is a vibrant, truthful and intimate exploration which reveals the repression, hostility, deceits and life-and-death sacrifices of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ’60s as well as a celebration of Tim Draxl’s own personal story of artistic freedom, individual and collective pride, and how 50 years ago the very notion of marriage equality would have been dismissed as pure fantasy. Ultimately, Love Is A Drug is deeply-romantic, life-affirming and liberating, as achingly conveyed in Billie Holliday’s The Man I Love.

POPLAB – FRISKY AND MANNISH  – Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July, Chequers, Seymour Centre

Ten years since they burst onto the scene with their wildly popular brand of musical infotainment, Frisky and Mannish are officially Pop PhDs, fully qualified to conduct scientific analyses of the molecular intersections between every pop song ever. For the first time, you are invited into their PopLab to peek down the microscope at all their latest research projects. Have they found an effective vaccine for the contagious Tropical House virus sweeping through the pop world? Who is the latest to benefit from their 80s RnB Conservation Program? Brush up on your Pop Periodic Table with the mad scientists themselves, and perhaps you too will be able to address problematic equations, like just how can Coldplay be so popular even though everyone you ask says they hate them? Science, people. Science.

Award-winners at Adelaide Fringe, sell-outs at Perth Fringe, specially invited artists at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and long-overdue a return to Sydney since their acclaimed debut at the Opera House in 2009, the British sensations are finally back to bring you their unique brand of popmusicy-seriocomic-mashparodic-stereophonic-LOUD-vaudevillian-sketchcabaret-throwbackcurrent-oldfangled-newfashioned-bapsbotty-infotainment.

KIM SINGS KYLIE – KIM DAVID SMITH – Friday 12 July, Saturday 13 July and Sunday 14 July, Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre

New York based cabaret performer Kim David Smith salutes perennial pop goddess, Kylie Minogue, with an intimately fabulous cabaret-fantasia, celebrating Kylie’s catalogue of gargantuan hits and glittering deep cuts, from 1987’s Locomotion all the way through to 2018’s Golden. Labelled the “male Marlene Dietrich” by the New York Times, Smith deconstructs three decades of Minogue dance anthems, with music direction by the multi-Award winning Brian Nash, and with costumes by Miodrag Guberinic (Katy Perry, Madonna, Nicki Minaj).

RELENTLESS – NATALIE JOY JOHNSON – Thursday 11 July, Friday 12 July and Saturday 13 July  – Tilbury Room, Seymour Centre

Get into it, kweens! New York City goddess and diva Natalie Joy Johnson bursts into Sydney for the very first time ever. Her unique brand of outrageous stories coupled with her sensational voice makes her an unmissable event, as she guides you through everything from her experiences at her first ever swingers party to Marie Kondo. Joined by Brian Nash on the piano and a rocking band, expect everything from showtunes to Jim Steinman. She’s loud, she’s trashy, she’s relentless.

REUBEN KAYE – Friday 12 July, Saturday 13 July and Sunday 14 July – Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre

Reuben Kaye
Reuben Kaye

Imagine if Joan Collins, Tim Curry and Meow Meow all dropped a stack of narcotics and had an orgy… now roll it in jewels and a bathtub of gin and you’re halfway there. In an explosion of energy, high camp, big notes and filthy humour, Reuben Kaye dominates the stage and devours his audience. With an acid wit and casual sensationalism that is simply delicious, he is a dazzling phantasm of anachronistic showbiz – an explosion of sequins, lashes and teeth. Kaye’s delivery is flawless as he seamlessly blends lavish storytelling into gilded song, incorporating an impressive repertoire that ranges from Kurt Weill to Kate Bush, regularly punctuating his monologue with rich cultural critique.

THE ART OF THE MASHUP – BRIAN NASH – Thursday 11 July, Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre

Direct from the Duplex, award-winning New York City pianist, singer and musical director Brian Nash returns to Sydney with The Art of the Mashup. Brian has become renowned for his ability to combine songs into hilarious, creative storytelling medleys, and is debuting a full evening of his greatest hits, along with the stories of their creation. If you’ve wanted to know what Stewie Griffin would sound like singing Beyoncé, or wondered where Bette Midler and Whitney Houston overlap, this is your chance. An evening with a true king of the keys!

SOLVE-ALONG-A-MURDER-SHE-WROTE – Friday 5 July, Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July – Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre

Direct from London, Solve-Along-A-Murder-She-Wrote is a hosted screening of an episode of Murder, She Wrote, featuring hilarious games and audience participation. Hosted by superfan Tim Benzie, our most interactive event includes a singalong to the theme tune with new lyrics, Cabot Cove Bingo, and a JB Fletcher Epiphany Race! With campy guest stars and 80s trivia, what more could you ask for? Jessica Fletcher always works it out, will you solve the murder?

PETIT CABARET – Just for kids!  – Thursday 11 July, Friday 12 July and Saturday 13 July 13, Valhalla, Seymour Centre

Brought to you by the crazies at Cheeky Cabaret, join us for a kid’s cabaret especially for the little ones. Kids will love this circus variety show which is just a little bit less cheeky that its evening counterpart. Mums and Dads bring the little ones along to witness the skill and danger of these brilliant variety performers. Recommended for ages 5+

SYDNEY CABARET COMPETITION GRAND FINAL – Wednesday 10 July, Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre

Australia’s next generation of cabaret superstars will launch their careers at The Sydney Cabaret Competition: Grand Final hosted by ‘International Queen of Cabaret’ Trevor Ashley. On the night, one lucky winner will receive a career changing prize and the chance to perform at the festival’s closing night. Our judging panel of distinguished international entertainers will also select a runners up and the audience will choose their favourite to receive an award from a total prize pool valued at over $5,000.

With a diverse range of experience, styles and sounds, the competition finalists will already have impressed a panel of judges to progress to this final, including Helpmann Award winner Matt Lee, Broadway World Award winner Catherine Alcorn, Australian cabaret treasures Phil Scott and Margi De Ferranti, and producers Mark Sutcliffe and Les Solomon.

JENNIFER HOLLIDAY MASTERCLASS With Brian Nash – Wednesday 10 July, Chequers, Seymour Centre

Alison Jiear Sydney Cabaret Festival
Alison Jiear

In a special one-off event, join two time Grammy and Tony award-winning artist Jennifer Holliday as she mentors four emerging Australian performers in an open Masterclass. Having been mentored herself by the legendary Michael Bennett, you’ll experience her incredible process and gain insights into acting through song and song interpretation.

ALISON JIEAR MASTERCLASS With Michael Tyack – Thursday 11 July, Capriccio’s, Seymour Centre

Olivier award nominated songstress Alison Jiear joins with musical director Michael Tyack to present their insights into creating and crafting a cabaret show. Working with two emerging Australian cabaret artists on their act and interpretation of material and patter, this is a behind-the-scenes look at how cabaret is created. Ali’s warm and wonderful sense of humour will shine as she nurtures and inspires the next generation.