Berlin Cabaret
Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2015
Submission

 

Capturing all of the seedy decadence of the Weimar Republic era, Berlin Cabaret is the true essence of cabaret, delivering song and schtick while all the time having a gentle poke at itself.
— Patrick McDonald, Arts Editor, Adelaide Advertiser

Show Synopsis

Adelaide’s beloved and multi-award winning Berlin Cabaret returns after ten years on hiatus to the city where it all began!

This Weimar-era cabaret show was one of the most infamous and awarded shows to come out of the 2002 Adelaide Fringe Festival and as a result became an instant cult classic on the Adelaide’s arts scene and festival calendar. Running every Friday night from 8:30 until midnight at The Weimar Room in Hindley Street – the Berlin Cabaret attracted a diverse audience of locals and visitors, young and old, naughty and nice, all looking for one thing: to immerse themselves in the seedy underground world of Berlin between the wars, where underwear, German accents, military uniforms, Socialist and Fascist ideas, and fishnets reigned supreme!

Returning for a final season at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2015, this celebration of the jazz era, during a dramatically political time, will resonate with audiences today just as much as it did in 2005, and in indeed 1925! Populated by refugees from a time when gender was less important than the songs, when artists and politicians intermingled, and when just about anything could, and did, happen.

With a cast made up of some of Adelaide’s finest actors, singers, comedians and musicians, the Berlin Cabaret's 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival season will be a tight 90-minute version of the long-running variety show, led by stern patriarch of the Cabaret, Klaus. A semi-improvised performance based on the unpredictable but highly entertaining personalities and talents of its eight core cast members: Klaus, Greta, Rudi, Lola, Lux, Gerhardt, Hans and FiFi, Berlin Cabaret will tell the story of a bygone era through umbrella dances, nutcracker numbers and classic tunes such as: Chuck All The Men Out Of The Reichstag, Seashells From Margate, Lola Lola, I’m Tired, and Ausgerechnet Bananen, all backed splendidly by the Berlin Jazz Band (Bruce Hancock Trio).

Oozing Weimar-era indulgence, scandal and intrigue, this beloved Adelaide icon, which fuelled the cities love for the art form, will return exclusively for a final revival at the 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, bringing the stars it created out of their gutters, bars, beds and graves for its final curtain call!

Show Credits

Cast:

  • Stephen Sheehan
  • Fiona Talbot-Leigh
  • Dan Gawler
  • Hew Parham
  • Catherine Campbell
  • Kate Fuller
  • Matt Gilbertson
  • Craig Behenna 

Berlin Jazz Band:

  • Bruce Hancock
  • John Aue

Original concept:

  • Developed by the cast from an original concept by Jacqueline Frajer and Torsten Meyer

Cast Biographies

Stephen Sheehan (Klaus):
Steve is a regular in the Adelaide Comedy scene and creator of the award winning show Stevl and his Translator Fatima.  He was one of six artists commissioned for Window World as part of the Adelaide Fringe 2013 presenting Not a Nativity Play. He is currently developing a new work called Steve Sheehan's Tristan and Isolde.  He was the MC of the long running Berlin Cabaret from 2002-2005 at The Weimar Room.  Other performance work includes Slingsby Theatre Company's The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy.  He trained at Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Flinders Drama Centre.

Fiona Talbot Leigh (Lux):
Fiona started out performing as a wedding singer in the eighties this went onto her fronting numerous contemporary and Jazz bands around Adelaide. In 2002 she became one of the founding members of the award winning ‘Berlin Cabaret’ performing weekly at the infamous Weimar room in Adelaide, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe Festivals as well as numerous private shows including one year for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. In 2010 along with Annie Slade she wrote, produced and performed her own cabaret show – ‘Hatch, Match and Dispatch’ which premiered at the Cabaret Fringe Festival that year and had a sell out season in the 2011 Adelaide Fringe. She has performed in film, TV commercials and on stage in a variety of productions. Along with running her own business, Fiona now performs corporate gigs with ‘The Bruce Hancock trio’ as well as performing in contemporary and Jazz duos.

Danielle Gawler (Lola):
Danielle is currently the vocalist for Melbourne electronic//pop duo Plastic Mystique.  Her compositions are being used for online gaming channels such as Twitch Tv and You Tube  as well as performing at dance music venues and festivals around Victoria.  She recently co produced the art exhibition sound scape of multi-Archibald Prize winner Sam Leach which was displayed in Singapore.  Danielle played Lola in the award winning Berlin Cabaret at the Weimar Room, which ran from 2002 and 2005 in Adelaide.  She was also the vocalist and co producer for the theme song of SA travel show South Aussie with Cosi which is currently being aired on channel 9.  Other performance work includes Ursula with Brink Productions performed at Adelaide Festival Centre and Sydney Seymore Centre in 2001 and The Second Hurricane with The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir in 1999.   Danielle trained as an actor at Flinders University Drama Centre.

Catherine Campbell (Greta):
Catherine is an actor and singer. Catherine was the first South Australian to take part in the Cabaret Conference at Yale in the USA, where she worked with US cabaret legend Julie Wilson, Amanda McBroom (writer of The Rose), Laurel Masse (Manhattan Transfer), Michael Orland (Musical Director of American Idol) and many others. She was awarded a scholarship by the Cabaret Conference and given an Emerging Artists grant by Arts SA.
Catherine is recognised as a leading cabaret performer in Adelaide. Her solo show, MY BLUE ANGEL: Marlene Dietrich (co-written with Frank Ford) has played in New York at Don’t Tell Mama, the 2004 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Out Of The Square, the Barossa International Music Festival, Midsumma Melbourne, Country South Australia Touring and FEAST Adelaide. She is a founding member of the cabaret/comedy trio Gentlemen Prefer Curves, having appeared with them at the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Adelaide Cabaret Festivals (sold out 2002, 2003), the 2002 and 2006 Adelaide Fringe (Advertiser Award for Excellence) and the 2003 Melbourne Comedy Festival. Catherine also created the role of Greta in the ongoing cult show Berlin Cabaret (2002 Light Year Award for Best Cabaret). Catherine’s solo shows include the critically acclaimed Made In Australia (sold out 2008 Adelaide Fringe), BABY! It’s Cabaret (2009 and 2012 Cabaret Fringe Festival) and Around The World in 80 Bars (sold out 2007 Adelaide Fringe). Catherine also created the role of Kathy/Abigail in Frank Ford’s adaptation of The Alibi, Secret Love (2007 Adelaide Fringe, 2006 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 2006 Midsumma Festival Melbourne, 2005 Feast Festival Adelaide), and featured in Tomfoolery (Adelaide Fringe 2008). Catherine was invited to be part of the Spiegeltent Secret Show in 2009 (Adelaide Fringe). In 2009 and 2011 Catherine was a Cabaret judge for the Adelaide Fringe Awards. In 2010 Catherine co-created La Chevre Noir, a French-style resident cabaret at La Boheme, playing the role of GiGi. In 2012 Catherine appeared in Gady La La: Songs For The Sophisticated Fag Hag with Libby O’Donovan and Sidonie Henbest. 

Hew Parham (Rudi):
Hew is a graduate of Flinders University Drama Centre. Hew was the recipient of the 2007 Neil Curnow Award where he studied at The Hunter Gates Academy of Physical Theatre one-year program in Canada. Hew has also extensively trained and mentored in the in the Pochinko Clowning Method with John Turner and Bouffon with Karen Hines whilst in Canada. In 2009 he returned to Manitoulin Island where he undertook a three-month mentorship to further his skills in Pochinko Clowning Method with John Turner.  Hew continues his mentorship with John Turner and has returned to Canada in 2011 and 2014 to further develop and refine his training in this style. Hew is the only Australian trained to teach this method and is the resident Clown teacher at Flinders University Drama Centre. Last year Hew received a grant to work with British Physical Comedy troupe Spymonkey in London, England. Hew worked further with Spymonkey performer and head workshop leader Aitor Bausuri in New York this year. Hew has also taken workshops with Mike Kennard (Mump and Smoot – Canada); Melbourne Clowns Clare Bartholomew and Derek Ives; Deborak Kauffman in New York; Gabriel Munoz (Mexico); Eric Davis (Red Bastard/Los Angeles) and continues to investigate different aspects of clown and how it can be weaved into the Pochinko Training. Hew has developed two theatrical clown shows with his naïve red nose clown Schmoo and his demonic alter ego Oog: Schmoove Operator and Odyssey Schmodyssey. More recently a new show with a new character Giocvanni in The Giovanni Experiment which was a hit at The Adelaide Fringe Festival and Cabaret Fringe Festivals. In 2011 Hew was the first Australian Clown to be accepted into New York Clown Theatre Festival, he was also invited to perform at the Sangenauy Fringe in Quebec, Canada.  Hew recently performed his latest version of the now titled Giovanni! at the New York Clown Theatre Festival in September. Hew won the 2004 Melbourne Fringe Award for Best Spoken Word Performance for Pounding Nails into the Floor with My Forehead, other credits includes: Me and My Shadow (Patch Theatre Company); Superheroes (Stone/Castro); Gorge (Brink Productions); Big Smoke (Riverland Youth Theatre Company); Boo! (Windmill Performing Arts); several incarnations of Berlin Cabaret from 2002 to 2010 (Weimar Productions); Significant Others (Oddbodies); Tomfoolery (Loaded Productions); Seven (Leigh Warren and Dancers); Don’s Party (Holden Street Theatres), Drinking Songs and La Chevre Noir (both La Boheme Productions). Hew also regularly works as an MC and a roving character performer and this year Giovanni was one of the hosts of the Adelaide Fringe Caravan Showcase stage. He also hosts and curates the showcase evening Artbox at La Boheme. Hew teaches workshops to performers, non-performers and in schools specialising in the Pochinko Method.

Matt Gilbertson (Hans):
An International Superstar, Sex Symbol and accordionist, Hans has been enthralling (and terrorising) audiences around the globe for over a decade. Already a star in his native Berlin, Hans made the heartbreaking (and tax-dodging decision) to leave Germany and set up home in what is often described as the cultural and entertainment capital of the western world… Adelaide, South Australia. Famed for his fabulous performances Hans' unique brand of cabaret has won high profile fans including Princess Mary, Naomi Campbell, Miranda Kerr, P!nk and political heavyweights from all sides of the spectrum. It seems everyone is dying to be on his good side. Hans is also a red carpet regular, greeting the stars with a microphone and an acid tongue at every A-List event… well, the important ones anyway. With a world record already under his belt for playing 29.5 hours of Madonna songs on an accordion, a string of sold-out shows, fame, overwhelming beauty and global adoration, who can say what will be next for Hans, the Boy Wonder Of Berlin.

Kate Fuller (FiFi):
Coming straight from three sold out shows at the 2014 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Kate Fuller is one of Adelaide’s most celebrated jazz singers. In 2011 Kate completed an AA Degree in vocal performance at the Los Angeles Music Academy, under the guidance of five-time Grammy nominated jazz vocalist
Tierney Sutton. During this time Kate performed as a semi-finalist for Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Shure Voice Competition in Switzerland. Kate has released three independent jazz records, Tipsy (2006), Gig & Dawn (2011) and London Place (2012). In July 2012, Gig & Dawn was re-released with bonus tracks through Japanese label Inpartmaint Inc. Following a sold out season of her one woman show Annie’s Room – about the life and music of jazz singer Annie Ross – at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012, Kate bought Annie home to Adelaide! With a swinging trio made up of some of Australia's finest: Dave McEvoy (piano), Sam Zerna (bass) and Stephen Neville (drums), Annie’s Room received rave reviews: "...the execution of (Annie's Room) is pulled off with such dazzling technical virtuosity and heartfelt passion one cannot fail to be impressed." - Review by Benjamin Orchard, Adelaide Theatre Guide.

Craig Behenna (Gerhardt):
Craig's recent stage credits include co-directing and playing the parts of the Chief/Zoran in the award-winning Adelaide And Edinburgh Fringe premiere seasons of Notorious by Van Badham. He also directed and co-wrote the popular Giovanni! starring Hew Parham which had its US premiere at the 2014 New York Clown Theatre Festival. On screen, he recently performed in Deadline Gallipoli, Wastelander Panda and ANZAC Girls. He wrote the feature film One Eyed Girl with director Mick Matthews. The film recently had its world premiere at Austin Film Festival where it won the Dark Matters Jury Award. Other acting credits include work with State Theatre Company of South Australia, the Adelaide Cabaret and Cabaret Fringe Festivals, and screen includes The Babadook, Danger 5 and others.

Bruce Hancock (Berlin Jazz Band – Leader):
Head of Jazz Studies at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Bruce Hancock has been an academic staff member since 1981.  He has a busy performing schedule with the Bruce Hancock Trio/Quartet and has directed numerous musical productions and festivals, including the prestigious Glenelg Jazz Festival. He has been responsible for the development of the majority of young contemporary jazz musicians in South Australia and heads one of the most respected jazz studies programs in Australia. Bruce has an impressive jazz performance record, having supported many of the world’s greatest musicians and also performing in his own right. His professional knowledge and experience of electronics engineering and computer-based applications reinforces his performance in today’s integration of electronics within music, but acoustic piano remains Bruce’s instrument of choice. An accomplished Musical Director for many productions in South Australia, Bruce has established himself as one of the State’s most versatile and talented jazz musicians.

Awards

  • Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Cabaret (2002)
  • Light Award for Best Cabaret (2003)
  • Adelaide Critics Circle Award (2003)
  • Arts SA Grant – Marketing (2004)

Reviews

It is a laugh out loud riotous hour with the music you know and the lyrics you never dreamed of adding. The actors are gifted all round performers who have created amusing, believable and beautiful characters. This is the jewel in the Fringe Crown.
— Teresa Palmer, Radio Adelaide Review
Spontaneity and fantastic coolness...pretend you have stepped back in time...a heck of a lot of fun!
— DB Magazine
Another triumph in delightful decadence for this award-winning group where we are transported back in time to Berlin between the wars.
— Russell Starke, Adelaide Theatre Guide
Cabaret Festival MC Mr Stephen Sheehan transforms into Klaus the Cabaret Entertainer to transport the audience back to Berlin in the 1920s. He is joined by four exceptionally talented performers. Kate Fuller is delightful as the young newcomer ‘Fifi’. Danielle Gawler, as the sultry ‘Lola’, might be slight of build but can really belt out a song. Matt Gilbertson as ‘Hans’ shows his versatility not only with vocals but also accompanying himself on accordion and wowing the audience with his energetic tap-dance routine. Hew Parham completes the troupe as the inept ‘Rudi’, adding another dimension to the performance when joining Sheehan in a rendition of Abbott and Costello’s ‘Who’s on First’ skit.

Accompanied by the Berlin Jazz Band, led by the talented Bruce Hancock, this is a very enjoyable night out, and not just during the Fringe. Catch it any Friday night at the Weimar room.
— Theresa Dolman, Adelaide Theatre Guide 2004
Two years old and still going strong, the sell out season of this Adelaide institution has been extended for two more shows.

When the Cabaret started, each week boasted special guests to make every show unique. It has now settled down to a set cast and show, which is expected to change every few months.

The relaxed style remains, as do some favourite routines, interspersed with new ones. This is the bisexual Berlin of the early 1920s where boys will be girls and girls will be boys. The bohemian lifestyle of the decadent is yours for the night, and what a night it is!

With such a talented cast of singers and comedians it’s hard to go wrong. Taking over from Stephen Sheehan is Craig Behenna as Gerhardt. Despite a fluctuating accent he fills the role of MC nicely, using the same laid back, tongue-in-cheek manner that worked so well for Sheehan.

The gorgeous Catherine Campbell returns as Garbo-like Greta, Danielle Gawler is still superb as Lola, Fiona Talbot-Leigh is Lux, Hew Parham as slow-witted Rudi, Matthew Gilbertson as Hans and Kate Fuller as fabulous Fifi.

On stage, the cast rejuvenate favourite old songs, putting their own unique twist on some of them. When not on stage amusing and bemusing us, they wander amongst the audience chatting, flirting and sleazing.

Bruce Hancock’s jazz band never fails to please and is always an added highlight to the evening.

Decadence has never been so fine.
— Rod Lewis, Adelaide Theatre Guide 2004

 

 History

The iconic Weimar-era Cabaret show with an almost cult following that ran for 3 years at the Weimar Room in Hindley Street – every Friday night, from 8.30 until nearly midnight, a diverse spectrum of types and ages came in to immerse themselves in a world where underwear, German accents, military uniforms, Socialist and Fascist ideas, and celery were allowed to reign supreme. It was a musically tight, dramatically anarchic show, populated by refugees from a time when gender was less important than the songs, when the artists and the patrons intermingled, and when anything could and did happen. The venue was a large part of the ‘charm’ of the show: The Weimar Room took up residence in the old Downtown Rollerskating rink, and transformed a concrete chasm into an authentic, down-at-heel Weimar-era bar, complete with velvet curtains, cabaret tables and chairs, cloak room and dingy corners.

The cast was made up of graduates of Flinders Drama Centre, AC Arts (then CPA) and noted Adelaide singers and performers.

 Informed by extensive research into the period, Berlin Cabaret wasn’t so much a recreation of the songs and styles, but a re-imagining of those songs and ideas making them speak with a shockingly contemporary voice – songs like Masculin/Feminin, Change The World It Needs It, Chuck All The Men Out Of The Reichstag (Parliament), Seashells From Margate (about Shell Oil) and many others rang so true with audiences that they would cheer and call out to the performers as if they were written about social issues today. (This was once keenly felt than when the cast sang Brel’s Sons Of (about men lost in war) just after Australia joined the fight in Iraq.
 

Previous performances/seasons

  • Friday residency at The Weimar Room June 2002 – Dec 2004
  • Adelaide Cabaret Festival (Lyrics Bar) 2002
  • Adelaide Fringe Festival 2002 – 2004
  • Cabaret Fringe Festival (Weimar Room) 2004
  • Melbourne Fringe Festival 2004
  • Promethean Theatre 2009
  • Cabaret Fringe Festival (La Boheme) 2009
     

Primary Contact

Fiona Talbot Leigh
+61 439 834 542

foreveryoursc@bigpond.com

Additional Contacts

Catherine Campbell
catnatcam@gmail.com

Kate Fuller
katieffuller@gmail.com