Perth International Cabaret Festival – Michael Griffiths On The Glamour And Excellence Of The 2024 Event

Michael Griffiths
Joshua (he/him) is from Boorloo, Western Australia. Outside writing for scenestr and FROOTY, he is an active member of the arts and cultural industries, specialising in Film and Theatre management.

Welcome to the cabaret!

For those new to the festival celebrating its fourth anniversary, the Perth International Cabaret Festival is the brainchild of local producers Ali Welburn and Graham Lovelock, and honours the timeless traditions of storytelling set to music.

No doubt many have experienced the art form in various aspects during Perth Fringe World in the summer, so get ready for the winter wonderland that is the Cabaret Festival in June.

Grab the faux-fur jackets, and cocktail attire, and experience Perth International Cabaret Festival at His Majesty’s Theatre, featuring the festival’s own Artistic Director, and Helpmann Award-winning artist, Michael Griffiths.

CarlaLippis SamuelGraves
Carla Lippis - Image © Samuel Graves

“The germ of the festival started around 2019/20 and we had planned for the launch to be in 2020, but for obvious reasons that didn’t go to plan. The reality of a pandemic and border closures, it has been a bit rocky to say the least,” Michael says. “But we have been strong-willed, determined, and tenacious, proceeding against the odds – and we’re proud of what we were able to hold each year. It hasn’t been easy, but I think that’s showbusiness – the show must go on!”

“We have been so delighted with what we have been able to present, and the way the audience and festival has grown. After a reduced festival last year, we’re back, firing on all cylinders, with 2024 being the biggest and best festival so far.”

The combination of her persistence, and a collaboration with His Majesty’s Theatre, Ali reached out to Michael after his performance in Fringe 2020, establishing the first International Cabaret Festival in Perth of its kind.

CarolineOconnor PICF2024
Caroline O'Connor

“It’s a credit to Graham and Ali, they saw a gap in the WA arts market as every other state had a cabaret festival – such as Adelaide, whose festival is 20-something years old and very established. Ali had been a punter there many times before, and picked up on the vibe and attendance, and even the scale of shows presented; Adelaide was very much an inspiration.”

The festival this year is set to showcase Caroline O’Connor, an international musical theatre star in her world premiere of 'My Musical Life'; alongside Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier’s premiere of 'Songs From The Book Of Life', highlighting the wonders that are set to grace the stage this season. Among the performances, audiences can attend events such as a Cabaret Writing Workshop, workshops on singing in Noongar language, and various Artist Talks to further immerse yourself in the world of cabaret.

“You can trust that the Perth International Cabaret Festival will deliver on excellence, glamour, and a great time!” Michael exclaims.

'Songs From The Book Of Life'

He'll be performing 'It’s A Sin: Songs Of Love And Shame', which explores the journey of coming out in the early '90s, the Artistic Director’s personal experience, and memoir told through song. Before marriage equality, social media, and during the height of AIDS hysteria, Griffiths distinctly recalls the televised advertisement of the Grim Reaper bowling down individuals indiscriminately, and being part of a generation instilled with a faceless fear.

“We didn’t even really know how AIDS was passed, I remember being a young queer person, not even knowing if it was heavy kissing, or being to the dentist – there was this sense that anything you did with a stranger, or someone you knew a bit, was inherently dangerous.”

Vika & Linda - Image © Brian Purnell of Mushroom Creative House

'It’s A Sin' holds a plethora of odes to a bygone period in queer history – not to say that adversity has been lifted, but the performance highlights an era steeped in deeply-coded rituals and mannerisms that were orchestrated in a time before acceptance and dating apps. With the evening of songs drawing from the Pet Shop Boys playlist, Griffiths’ 'It’s A Sin' is a must-see for those in the LGBTQIA+ community as both a night of entertainment, and education.

As Liza Minnelli once said: “Life is a cabaret old chum, come to the cabaret!”

Perth International Cabaret Festival is on from 10-23 June.

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