Barbara Fordham: Come Out Swingin’.

10 March 2003 | 1:00 am | Eden Howard
Originally Appeared In

Fly The Coup.

The Brisbane Cabaret Festival runs from Thursday to Sunday at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

After their sold out launch on Saturday at the Lord Mayor’s Cabaret Concert at City Hall, the main body of the Brisbane Cabaret Festival gets into swing this weekend at the Powerhouse Theatre. This Thursday audiences will be treated to Leah Cotterell’ jazzy show, the stunning vocal chameleonics of Craig Vance (AKA Velma Vegas) and comedy from Andy McDonell, Michael Hibbard and Sam Lovejoy. Friday features local gypsy music outfit Doch, Yani and the cult-hit Jacques Brel Is Alive & Well & Living In Paris, featuring Sandro Colarelli, Alison St Ledger, Kate Miller-Heidke and Greg Bird. Saturday nights series of performances include the Krasky Sisters, father and son act Tyrone Noonan (george) and Brian Noonan, Queenie Van Zandt and the Festival’s only out of town act, high-energy musical extravaganza Todd McKenney. The event’s close on Sunday is by no means a low point, featuring a circus style performance, music from Paul Hankinson and Amy Cutler, Brian Cavanagh and Julie Cotterell working through La Boite’s La Bamba shows and Barbara Fordham’s classic R&B stylings.

Supported by a dynamic music trio, local diva Fordham is bound to seduce with her sassy repertoire and upbeat stage persona. A regular feature performer in Brisbane’s ever expanding cabaret scene, Fordham is fresh back from Empress, her own successful show season last year.

“I think cabaret is a real conversation with the audience,” she said of the event. “There’s a real intimacy with the audience. There’s no void there, you’re there with them, and that’s the appeal for any performer. It’s about mixing things up with the audience members, and you have the possibility of moving people because you’re so close in a cabaret experience. I think cabaret is very broad in how it’s developed over the years, so what you’ll see in the festival ranges from singers sitting and delivering to comedy acts or high voltage kind of performance. But the one thing that’s common is everything is as close as possible to the audience.”

How would you place an event like the Brisbane Cabaret Festival in context with the other regular or semi regular cabaret events around town?

“I think cabaret is really strong because we’ve lost a lot of venues, and people are producing their own material and trying to find situations to present it. I think that’s why there’s been a bit of a revival in Brisbane, we have lost venues and now it’s not as comfortable. It forces you to reflect on what you want from performance. You have to get out of your comfort zone, and think about what you want to and how you want to go about it. It’s a different context for the performer.”

What would you hope people would take away from an event like this?

“I hope people really take on the quality of Brisbane’s performers. Besides Todd McKenney everyone is a Brisbane person. I hope people take away that at there fingertips they have quality that is world class. I think as Australians we have an attitude that anything that comes from outside the country must be better, and Brisbane’s a smaller microcosm where anything from outside is better than Brisbane. But artists from Brisbane have travelled and experienced other places, and we’re on a par with anybody, even better in a lot of cases. I can see that in my fellow performers. I love seeing them challenge themselves, and for something like this to be produced for Brisbane performers is a real coup, I think.”