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Life Is A Cabaret

Life Is A Cabaret

The inaugural Christchurch Cabaret Festival will present three glittering nights of cabaret on July, 13, 14 & 15 in Christchurch’s most avant-garde venue – the Christchurch Art Gallery Foyer.

The headline act of the festival is the sumptuous duo Micheline van Hautem and Frederik Caelen from Belgium, returning after a sell-out season of Songs of Jacques Brel in the Christchurch Arts Festival 2005. Micheline and Frederick will perform their new show – Madame – which draws on classic cabaret and brings together works from Sarah Vaughan, Julie London, to the immortal Piaf and Dietrich.

Two acclaimed cabaret acts from New Zealand will join the beguiling Belgian duo in the Festival line-up. French Toast is the colourful trio of chanteuse Linn Lorkin, accordeoniste, Hershal and bassiste Peter Scott, who have reinvented the genre with an ingenious mix of well-known French chansons, the occasional foray into Italian, German, and Yiddish, and a good dollop of kiwiana.

New Zealand’s leading lady of musical theatre, jazz and cabaret, Ali Harper, completes the line-up. Ali’s show – Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal – sparkles with timeless gems and the odd rough diamond picked up on her travels in New York.

As far back as mid-fifteenth century France, people were singing the praises of cabaret; in fact the word cabaret is French for ‘small room’. Several centuries on, cabaret had become both entertainment for the masses and a testing-ground for avant-garde artists and it also functioned as a critically reflective mirror of politics and culture. Cabaret has shifted with the times but hasn’t lost its barbed-edge or innovative nature.
Festival Director, Guy Boyce, is excited about bringing the first-ever Cabaret Festival to Christchurch and New Zealand, “Nothing engages an audience quite as intensely and intimately as Cabaret, and Christchurch audiences are no different. Cabaret has consistently been one of the most popular elements of our biennial Christchurch Arts Festival programme, and in looking for an off-year, mid-winter pick-up event, we focused on this popular yet often risqué art-form,” he says.

Boyce hopes to one day grow this baby into a healthy adult that is as vast and eclectic as the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. In just 5 years the Adelaide Cabaret Festival has grown exponentially into an event that boasts a 27,000 strong supporters list and hosts over 200 performances of an eclectic mix of classic, contemporary, satirical, New York and original French Cabaret.

“The best thing about the success of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival,” Boyce says, “is the way it has nurtured local talent, and Adelaide now has a sustained presence of Cabaret entertainment throughout the year. And while the inaugural Christchurch Cabaret Festival is small it has a big heart. Boyce is very happy with the mix of the chosen acts. “Each act pays a unique and entertaining tribute to different aspects of the Cabaret tradition.”

He is also very happy with the venue. “The Art Gallery is a stunning venue and we are thrilled to have the Christchurch Art Gallery and Alchemy restaurant as partners, and Pernod Ricard, The Lion Foundation, Christchurch City Council and Creative Communities on board as sponsors.”

Bookings for all shows: through Ticketek, either by the phone on 03 377 8899, online on or at ticket counters.

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