Camille O'Sullivan - Feel
Festival Theatre Stage

She arrives as a sparkling Red Riding Hood, tending front row patrons with smiles and gentle touches and departs in leopard print and Fedora hat, all sweaty and sexy. In between, this extraordinary Irish chanteuse unleashes a performance laced with equal measures of passion and tenderness.

Backed by a tight three piece band, Camille evokes and emotes, prances and prowls, struts and staggers and insists her audience feels as fiercely about her music as she does. Drawing on material from Dylan to Brel, Cave, Watts and Bowie, hers is a broad musical church.

The great tradition of Irish story telling through song is embodied in her foot thumping drive of tempo, her take no prisoners approach to vocals and her complete commitment to lyrics. Her unaccompanied rendition of Port of Amsterdam is memorable while her penultimate number, an achingly beautiful Nick Cave homage draws the audience as one into a haunting chorus.

While she proclaims her "madness" throughout the show and delves child-like into a battered suitcase of weird and wonderful props, this is no random performance. It is a witty and cleverly crafted piece, as fierce as it is poignant, as crazy as it is beautiful.

Like the legendary leprechaun of her homeland, Camille is a mischievous elfin creature who hoards musical gold. All you need to claim your share is a ticket to one of her remaining weekend shows.

2.Cabaret Festival Review - Edgy Eddie
Misanthropology - Eddie Perfect
Dunstan Playhouse

Cabaret is often at its best when it's at its most subversive. It can be a dangerous business for a performer though - fly too hard or close to the subject and they can find themselves melting Icarus-like in the heat they've generated.

Eddie Perfect seems to revel in flying dangerously close to a range of hot topics in "Misanthropology" and certainly burns a few folk along the way.

What's never at issue is Perfect's talent and commitment to his art. In this outing he eschews his usual seat at the piano and takes to the stand-up microphone with ease, leaving accompaniment to a tight trio of percussion, bass and keyboard.

That also sets him free to embroider his musical musings with some physical theatre and concentrate on the high energy delivery of his trademark lyrics.

Those razor sharp observations of everyday life target a diversity of characters - road hogging cyclists, self-satisfied triathletes, indulgent theatre directors and eco-lodge loving consumers.

Some may feel he goes too far with his tirade on the 21st century fathers who fund their daughters' breast implants, but for others it is such searing incorrectness that has them in thrall.

3.Cabaret Festival Review - Tasty Opener
Gala Variety Performance

The trick with a tasting platter is to entice, delight and encourage the nibbler to want more at another time. Tastes vary so not every morsel will be equally enjoyed, but overall the effect should be tantalising.

So it was on Friday night when 2000 odd CabFest fans gathered to sample the shows, predominantly on offer in week one of Kate Cebrano's debut festival. And what an eclectic bunch - shows and audience alike!

Kate sparkled as co-host with the deliciously outrageous New Yorker Mark Nadler - himself a must see either in Hootenany after-show mode or his own more serious outing next weekend.

Of the home grown talent the boys from Boylesque, Kim Smith and his torturously precise singing and Angela Harding, winner of the 2011 Australian Cabaret Showcase, were outstanding.

Genuine Broadway stars Eden Espinosa and Lea Salonga unleashed their considerable voices on big ballads but it was the Supreme Mary Wilson who stopped the show with her extraordinary rendition of Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather". This was a master class in stagecraft.

The evening climaxed with a presentation from the Class of 2012 - local high school students bursting with talent - who'll forever be able to boast of having shared the stage with Cebrano's cavalcade of stars.

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