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Alan Cumming to lead Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s post-COVID comeback

Emil Cohen
Alan Cumming

The Scottish-born star of stage, film and television will head to South Australia next year to helm Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2021.

With its 20th anniversary season derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Adelaide Cabaret Festival is setting itself up for a memorable return in 2021 with Cumming in the driver’s seat. After several years of well-loved Australian names in the role, Cumming adds an international flavour – and a hint of Hollywood – to the festival.

With a celebrated stage career that netted a Tony for his role in the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret, and a screen career that has seen him bounce between a seven-season stint on longrunning TV series The Good Wife and memorable roles in blockbuster franchises like GoldenEye, X-Men 2, Spy Kids and the less-remembered Spice World, Cumming brings an eclectic CV, presumably deep rolodex and abiding love of cabaret to the director role.

Cumming last visited Adelaide to perform his show Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs across two sold out nights at the 2017 Cabaret Festival. “I first came to Adelaide over thirty years ago and have always loved the welcome I’ve received there,” Cumming said of the news.

“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!”

The news was revealed over the weekend as part of the festival’s Bite-Sized and Home Delivered digital program – a substitute for the festival’s cancelled 2020 season. The cancellation of the 2020 season ended the tenure of outgoing artistic director Julia Zemiro on a disappointingly muted note, capping off a two-year run that also weathered the disruption of key venues like the Festival Theatre and Her Majesty’s Theatre being unavailable in 2019. The latter of which, one hopes, will be fully up and running and at Cumming’s disposal in 2021.

“I will never forget my time with Adelaide Cabaret Festival – 2019 was so exhilarating to deliver and Adelaide welcomed me so, so warmly,” Zemiro said. “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.

“See you in the foyers next year. Your new AD is going to blow your minds. I can’t wait!”

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country. His work has appeared in Rip It Up, The Saturday Paper, Smith Journal, Royal Auto, Swampland Magazine, Broadsheet and The Thousands.

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