July this year will herald the inaugural Sydney Cabaret Festival, celebrating both international and Australian cabaret stars. Tickets are on sale as from today, 

The 2019 Sydney Cabaret Festival features the legendary Tony Award-winning Jennifer Holliday, appearing for the first time on Australian soil, alongside local legends like Phil Scott and Jonathan Biggins, to New York downtown darling Natalie Joy Johnson.

UK’s most famous duo Frisky and Mannish return after a ten year hiatus, as does the thrilling diva Alison Jiear, described as having a “bring down the house voice” by the New York Times

. Sydney favourite Tim Draxl will appear in a world premiere of his new show, along with Kim David SmithReuben Kaye and Brian Nash, plus circus and variety show Cheeky Cabaret, direct from their home in Brunswick Heads.

Australian pop culture fan Tim Benzie returns to Sydney with the hilarious Solve-Along-A-Murder-She-Wrote. The Festival also includes a cabaret for children, Petit Cabaret, and masterclasses with Jennifer Holliday and Alison Jiear, as well as the Grand Final of the restored Sydney Cabaret Competition.

 Festival Artistic Director Trevor Ashley is thrilled with the program he has assembled. “I have loved Cabaret as long as I can remember. As a confused child growing up I discovered this incredible artform that celebrated unique personalities, and more than that, an irreplaceable bond between artist and audience. Seeing artists like Lorrae Desmond, Julie Anthony and Geraldine Turner live, made me believe I could be anyone I wanted to be. It changed my life.

 I have long dreamed that we could bring cabaret home to Sydney so I am immensely proud to present the inaugural Sydney Cabaret Festival, which in its first outing brings together some of my favourite artists from around Australia and the globe. From our headliner, the legendary Jennifer Holliday, through to Alison Jiear, Kim David Smith and Reuben Kaye – three artists at the top of their game, who were born here, but now call London and New York home, there is something for everyone. Variety, comedy, jazz, and more belting than you could poke a stick at, we are coming out with a bang.

 I invite you to celebrate this truly life changing artform, and hope that you’ll join not only artists you know and love, but take a chance on someone you’ve never heard of before. Every single one of these acts is at the top of their game, and I can’t believe we will have them all in one place at the same time.”

 In the immortal words of Fred Ebb: What good is sitting alone in your room? Come to the Cabaret, playing between the 5th and 14th July, 2019.


The Transitions Film Festival returns to Sydney this April with another enthralling line-up of cutting-edge documentaries about the existential challenges, mega-trends, game-changing technologies and creative visions that are redefining what it means to be human.

The festival focuses on sharing inspirational stories about the solutions to society’s greatest challenges and showcases the local heroes and changemakers who are building a better world.

Covering a huge range of mind-expanding themes, including: climate change, regenerative agriculture, artificial intelligence, innovation and youth activism, this year’s festival will change the way you look at the world.

Featuring a stellar line-up of powerful films and inspirational guest speakers, the Transitions Film Festival runs from the 1st until the 4th of April at Dendy Cinemas Newtown.

For more about Transitions Film Festival Sydney tour, visit–2019
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Captain Marvel is rocketing up the multiplex box-office at the moment, but, for my money, there’s a major marvel playing at Riverside Theatres at the moment that beats the kapow! out of that CGI blockbuster.

Like Captain Marvel, GROUNDED features a female Air Force top gun, a fighter pilot, highly trained, with an abiding love for the big blue, the limitless sky, the ecstatic freedom of flight.
She’s smart and sassy and has attained the rank of Major, a veteran of the Desert Wars.

Then, drinking with her mostly male aviator cohort in a bar, she is approached and wooed by a fella that fells her with one sweet swoon and a wild weekend in the sack.

Bliss blooms in her womb. She wants the child and so does the man. The only drawback to the pregnancy is that she will be grounded.

She finds being wife and mother wonderful, but yearns to take to the skies again, resume her career.
Husband is supportive, so much so that when she is stationed in Las Vegas, he relocates, finds a job, sets up the domestic majestic.

Her home life is grounded, in the best sense of the word – secure, loving, supportive – but her career is grounded in the worst sense of the word – curbed, static, stalled. Instead of taking to the air she is given a chair, an assignment to pilot drones. Out of the blue, and into the grey. Literally and metaphorically.

From Air Force to Chair Force, she sits in one desert while waging remote control war in another.
This assignment changes the whole dynamic of her vocation, taking her from confident and committed combatant, an actor in kill or be killed confrontation, to desk chair assassin anonymity, morally and physically disarming her.

George Brant’s script is grounded in complexity, compassion, empathy and exhilaration. If the play was a plane it would be admired for its grace and agility and in the National Theatre of Parramatta’s production it is piloted by an ace actor.

Emily Havea gives a soaring performance, aerodynamically adroit in physical and vocal presence, knowing when to steep and bank, go full throttle, and glide. Quite simply, she flies.

Director Dom Mercer expertly traffic controls the production navigating plenty of air space for his performer and marshalling the exceptional talents of John Hindmarsh, set and costume designer,
Alexander Berlage, lighting design, and sound designer Mary Rapp.

GROUNDED delivers thrilling theatre, from take off to landing. A major marvel. Come fly!




Rockdale Opera Company presents: REFLECTIONS OF OPERA IN CINEMA, A CABARET.  This will be a cabaret celebration of musical highlights of Opera in Cinema Featuring Megan Chalmers, Nik Roglich, Julie Paik and many more, accompanied by the Rockdale Opera Company ensemble.

Saturday 13th April 2019 at 2pm and 7.30pm at Rockdale Town HalL, 448 Princess Highway, Rockdale.

For more about Reflections in Opera in Cinema Cabaret, visit
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photo credit Raphael Neal

PIANO EX MACHINA is the latest mind-bending piano and multimedia international tour by award-winning London-based pianist, Zubin Kanga. Kanga returns to Australia this April to perform newly commissioned ground-breaking works exploring video games, internet culture, 80s action cinema, sci-fi, 3D motion sensors, interactive visuals, analogue synths, stop-motion animation and Artificial Intelligence.

Following his acclaimed 2015 DARK TWIN and 2016 CYBORG PIANIST tour, Zubin Kanga returns in a program of ground-breaking works for piano and multimedia by some of the hottest composers from around the world.

13 April 2019 7.30pm-9.30pm at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

For more about Zubin Kanga’s Australian premiere of Piano Ex Machina, visit
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It is hard to believe that this is Lukas Dhont’s debut feature film. It is beautifully photographed, terrifically acted and raises important issues .

It looks not just at the hard work, daily grind and obsessiveness needed in order to become a professional ballet dancer but also the generally hidden physically and emotionally difficult world of being a transgender teen. Body image is also most important both in the ballet world and generally. GIRL is about both Lara’s gender-changing journey and her all-consuming relentless passion to be a great dancer — to the exclusion of all other desires.

Cross gender actor Victor Polster plays Lara, a teenage girl now living in an apartment in Brussels with her father Matthias (Arieh Worthalter )and younger brother Milo. (Oliver Bodart) Lara has just transferred to a new dance school where she dreams of becoming a ballerina. Lara was, however, born with a male body, so she has been undergoing hormone treatments while eagerly awaiting confirmation for a sex-reassignment operation. The people in her life, for the most part, are very caring and supportive.In the eyes of her accepting father, Mathias, Lara is already a girl, and as her Flemish-speaking psychiatrist puts it, “The only thing we can do is confirm and support that.”

Dhont develops Lara’s story with the awkward growing-up moments everyone can relate to: the lunchroom on the first day of school, a tentative first sexual encounter, the gap between young people and parents at adolescence and so on. It is not clear whether Lara’s classmates know her secret, but it appears she’s trying to keep it hidden (though she uses the girls’ locker room, she comes already dressed and makes excuses so as not to shower with the others after). We see ghastly peer pressure when Lara is extremely embarrassed at a friend’s birthday party.

What could have be yet another highly awkward moment, when a teacher asks Lara to close her eyes and the rest of the female students are asked to raise their hand to indicate whether they are ok with Lara being in their dressing room, is shown in a brief, rather casual way.

And at school, a teacher discomfits Lara by drawing attention to her in the ‘what I did over the holidays’ round. We see Lara using white tape to flatten her crotch before ballet class – and that area becomes painfully infected and bleeding – which is also compared to the tape on all the girl’s feet to try and keep their feet surviving during pointe work (but still become a horrendous bloody wreck) .Both are used in the search for the image of perfection.

On the other hand Lara beams, delightedly when she drops off Milo at his school and a teacher asks if she is the boy’s sister.

Both Matthias and her therapist ask about the kind of boys she likes, but Lara hasn’t given it much thought and would prefer to leave it until after The Operation. And you get the feeling Lara is not really much of a talker , with awkward conversations between Lara and Matthias. Matthias is worried about the operation. Lara on the other hand counting the hours.

A dance student at the Royal Ballet School Antwerp who makes his screen acting debut here, Polster as Lara is amazing giving an incredibly assured performance and he sure can dance brilliantly .

Another issue is the film’s unflurried approach to nudity, which is very frank at times with Lara staring at the mirror wondering when her breasts will start to grow and how long before her ‘ male equipment ‘ can be removed. It is also perhaps typical of the dance and art world in general .

The supporting cast is very strong and Worthalter (Sympathy for the Devil) in particular is brilliant as Matthias, but the film really belongs to Polster as Lara.The startling ending is sure to provoke lots of discussion.

This was a  powerful, thought provoking film .

GIRL is playing  as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival which is screening until the 10th April, 2019.

Running time – with cinema ads allow 2 hours no interval


Australia’s live performance industry has welcomed today’s announcement of an agreement to secure the future of Sydney’s iconic Theatre Royal.

Live Performance Australia Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson, said “We’re very pleased to see that our call for this theatre to be reopened has been heeded by the NSW Government and Dexus in the form of a long-term lease agreement.

The future of the purpose-built venue at the MLC Centre in the CBD has been shrouded in uncertainty since it was closed in 2016.

Last year an alliance of producers, actors, creatives and crew rallied to save the Theatre Royal. A petition signed by almost 10,000 people demanded the Government ensure the Royal is reopened. Live Performance Australia lobbied the site’s owners, Dexus and The GPT Group, the NSW Government and the City of Sydney on the future of the venue. Continue reading THEATRE ROYAL SURVIVES THE AXE


Hunters Hill Theatre Company starts off the year with an impressive production of  Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE NILE. We spend two hours, including one interval, with Christie’s motley crew of characters.

A murder takes place on board a cruise place on a cruise ship going down the Nile. There is no Inspector Hercule Poirot on board so it is left to those on board to piece the pieces together and find the murderer before he strikes again.

Jennifer Willison’s staging was excellent and she wins good performances from a cast who clearly relished playing in a Christie.

Courtney Gibson  and Blake Eaton play glamorous newly wed couple Kay Ridgeway and husband Simon. Courtney impressed playing the princess like, born with a silver spoon in her mouth Kay, as did Blake playing her handsome, mild mannered husband. Continue reading MURDER ON THE NILE @ HUNTERS HILL THEATRE



To say the least, an electric viola da gamba is an uncommon instrument. Consequently, I had little preconception of what Thursday’s CD launch would entail. The simple answer is that it is all about exceptionally creative and innovative music and extraordinarily skilful performers that display their considerable talents with complex and intriguing compositions.

Jenny Eriksson’s electric viola da gamba is at the heart of Elysian Fields and she is joined by the impressive contributors: pianist Matt McMahon, saxophonist Matt Keegan, vocalist and violinist Susie Bishop, bass guitarist Siebe Pogson and Dave Goodman on drums. Their diverse backgrounds might seem at odds but it is fascinating how the classical, baroque, jazz and folk sensibilities can complement each other when the compositions, arrangements and skills of the musicians are all of such a high standard. The delicate interplay of styles and the impeccable harmonies are some of the features that make this unlikely mixture very entertaining and enriching. Continue reading ELYSIAN FIELDS CD LAUNCH @ THE FOUNDRY

THE REALISTIC JONESES @ LIMELIGHT ROOM @ Limelight on Oxford, 231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst


Sydney premiere. Starting at night on Jennifer and Bob Jones’s front porch, in a small mountain town, they meet and greet their brand new neighbours Pony and John Jones, who are now renting the house next door. Will Emo has carefully crafted a unique slow-burning and quite wistful play about two unrelated married couples absurdly both named Jones, who are getting to know each other, via highly eccentric and memorable Q and A.

Marriages under substantial stress, due to the constantly erratic but eclectic behaviour of both husbands. Praiseworthy direction by Julie Baz, and she has chosen an impeccable ensemble cast at the height of their craft, with each actor delivering earnest character-driven performances.

The two husbands, Bob Jones (Jeff Houston) and John Jones (David Jeffrey) are both dying, however they are keeping the exact same secret, that will be fully revealed in the Second Act. Discomfort easily generating laughter, their ever evolving back story, grows exponentially as multiple truths revealed.

John Jones displays assertive behaviour whilst delivering comedy immortal one-liners, with effective wordplay that sends the story forward in the most interesting and very entertaining ways, intentionally limiting and setting and respecting relationship boundaries.                               Continue reading THE REALISTIC JONESES @ LIMELIGHT ROOM @ Limelight on Oxford, 231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst


This week explore comedy, drama and physical theatre with each ten minute play covering all manner of things, including high society celebrity, Irish superstitions, the drug menace, surviving grief and theatre ghosts in a tasty assortment of live theatre treats vividly explored on stage during Short and Sweet Week Six of “The biggest little theatre festival in the world”.

Every week there is a new Short+Sweet Top 80 program (Thursdays-Fridays-Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 6.00pm) together with a separate new S+S Wildcards program each week (Saturdays at 3.30pm and Sundays at 2.30pm). The annual Short+Sweet huge gala finals, all take place during April 2019.

Second year in this big new venue for S+S, and comfortably seating a maximum of 171. Top 80 WEEK SIX is a huge week of must-see comedic delights with each brand new play under ten minutes, Thursday 14th March 2019 until Sunday. The S+S festival has new shows every week for eight weeks, and runs through to April 2019.               Continue reading SHORT+SWEET THEATRE TOP 80 WEEK SIX SYDNEY 2019 @ AMPA – TOM MANN THEATRE

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