'Cab' chat with Julia Zemiro

At Play Cultural Heart

With winter comes all the cracking good times of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival - this year running from 7 – 22 June. As 2019 Artistic Director, Sydney-sider Julia Zemiro spent lots of time in Adelaide as she conjured up another stellar program. Discover a little of her unique city experience and check out her program picks for first-timer festival-goers, families, students, over 60s and more!

What’s best about Adelaide city stays?

“I love being in walking distance to the cultural hub of a city and Adelaide’s a great city to do that in. It’s somewhere I can feel like a local and I’ve been embraced so warmly by Adelaidians. I just love walking by the river first thing in the morning for some fresh air and exercise before going into the office at Adelaide Festival Centre.”

Where are your favourite city places?

“A walk to the Adelaide Central Market to stock up on fresh fruit and nuts to have in my hotel room and dressing room, plus a good strong coffee at Lucia’s. Having performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre a few times, I’ve spent a lot of time around Gouger and Grote Streets. I love Push Pin Vintage Boutique on Compton Street.”

Share your favourite city find for:

.. a morning coffee: “La Moka on Peel Street or Lucia’s at the Central Market.” 

.. a cheeky evening cocktail:La Buvette, can’t go past a great wine list and some tasty French bites.” 

.. a pre or post show meal:Sean’s Kitchen has been a lifesaver. So close to our offices, the wonderful professional waiters are always welcoming, A/C when you reaallllly need it, and the SA Blue Swimmer Crab Linguine is my favourite.”

What's so unique about cabaret?

“When you ask people ‘what is cabaret?’, they often think of fishnets and boas. To me though it’s about breaking the fourth wall, telling a story and using music, and that can be very broad. Cabaret can be so many different things but the one thing that keeps it connected is the intimacy with its audience and we have a few shows this year that are a bit more immersive. I’m so ready for people to see this program!”

Tell us your Adelaide Cabaret Festival picks for:

"Our opening night event, The House Is Live would be a great place to start. You get a taste of many different cabaret artists from classic to contemporary. From Meow Meow and Reuben Kaye who are cabaret festival stalwarts to some of the best and brightest cabaret newcomers including Alma Zygier, Nkechi Anele and Omar Musa who is a rapper, poet and writer and won the Sydney Theatre Critics Award for cabaret last year. The show is being directed by Craig Ilott – an award-winning theatre director responsible for Velvet and Smoke & Mirrors, so it’s going to be incredible. I’ll also be up on stage and can’t wait to open the festival with this event and meet the long-standing cabaret crowds and newcomers alike."

Reuben Kaye Pom Poms Approved Image 1


"Random Musical is an improvised show for families where audience members hand in random words to the actors and they make a brand-new musical on the spot. It features some of this country’s best improvisers including Cal Wilson, Rik Brown and Amberly Cull, with cabaret favourite John Thorn on piano. Also Class of Cabaret is in its 10th year and every year 20 senior students from high schools across SA receive mentoring and perform their own show. The talent really is outstanding. I was blown away last year. It’s a wonderful opportunity for up and coming talent to get a taste of the performing arts world and the chance to perform to a large and enthusiastic audience."

Hero Image Random Musical ACF19 photo credit Belinda Stodder
photo-icon Belinda Stodder

Random Musical.

"The Swell Mob – a new immersive show that’s on for the entire 16 days and nights of the festival. There’s a lot of music and amazing characters and you get as much out of it as you put in as an audience member. Only 50 people can go in at a time so it’s a very intimate experience and tickets are under $50. We also have plenty of free events this year including roving entertainment in our QBE Cabaret Lounge in Festival Theatre foyers, an LGBTI+ Elders Dance Club on the Queen’s Birthday, two live radio broadcasts where audience members can sit and listen to cabaret artists being interviewed and the wonderful Trevor Jones on piano at the Quartet Bar. There will also be a free talk series in the Quartet Bar held each weekend of the festival and that I’ll be hosting so you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time at the festival."

Hero 1 LGBTI Elders Dance Club Image by Bryony Jackson ACF19
photo-icon Bryony Jackson


"Ute Lemper in Rendezvous with Marlene. Ute is the quintessential, classic cabaret performer and she has made a show about a three-hour conversation she had with Marlene Dietrich, which she has never spoken about before. You will only be able to see this show at Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Also, Alma Zygier Quintet – Alma is a talented young woman who loves pre-war jazz. She completely inhabits it and will blow you away with her talent and interpretation of songs by Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Utterly mesmerising! Also Aaron Cash brings a beautiful subtle dance show exploring three Forgotten Masters of Dance in The Famous Spiegeltent. An original Tap Dog (tap dancing in blundstones and checked shirts), he’s worked with Twyla Tharp, Cher and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Don’t miss this show!"

Ute Marlene Reimann poster 2 credit Andreas Reimann
photo-icon Andreas Reimann


"Well.... Chet Baker is known for some of the most sexy, romantic music ever to woo each other too. Roscoe James Irwin brings you the musical story of the James Dean of Jazz! BUT if you're new to cabaret... or one half of you loves cabaret and the other is like ‘yeah no’.... we have the show for you: Presentation Night is a gig where a footballer who loves music and a musician who loves music get stuck in! Bob Murphy, the former captain of Western Bulldogs will be in conversation with Tex Perkins -musician/ football lover/ legend. They talk love, life, music and how to win a premiership in The Famous Spiegeltent which will be nestled between the two shells at Adelaide Festival Centre. There will be a bar inside and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. Otherwise I’d say try go all out and try a curve ball – Iota in Slap and Tickle will challenge you and give you and your partner something to talk about over a drink afterwards."

Roscoe James Irwin 4 photo credit Liam Davidson at Lord Media
photo-icon Liam Davidson at Lord Media


"I’d say come down to Adelaide Festival Centre and experience the precinct. Come with your coat, warm up, grab some food and wine and be entertained. If you love musical theatre, we have one of the most celebrated performers in the history of the West End, Ruthie Henshall at The Famous Spiegeltent, Bobby Fox doing his first solo cabaret show called The Irish Boy and the wonderful Kaye Tuckerman telling her story about the pursuit of the Broadway dream in Broadway Bound (But Not Gagged)."

Ruthie Henshall HORIZONTAL photo credit Kurt Sneddon
photo-icon Kurt Sneddon


"The 11 O'Clock Number will be the late night club and the place to be. Each weekend will be hosted by a different artist, Hans the first weekend, myself as Eurovision character Bronya the second weekend and Hot Gin Punch (Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood) on the final weekend. Each night’s performance will end with a DJ and dancing until 2 am – it’s going to be one great party and everyone’s invited!"

Hero Haus of Hans ACF19


For the full program for 2019 visit the Adelaide Cabaret Festival website and, for more ideas on fun ways to while away a winter’s day or evening in the city, check out our Adelaide Winter Guide.

Article by

Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

Skye is Adelaide Living's main driving force. She is passionate about sharing stories from all walks of life. When she's not busy weaving beautiful words together, she's singing a line or two from her favourite song.