Alan Cumming first visited Adelaide over three decades ago. Next year, he promises to return as the first international Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

The Scottish-American actor and entertainer comes with impressive credentials – a Tony Award for Best Actor In A Musical for his performance as The Emcee in Broadway show Cabaret, Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG nominations for his role as Eli Gold in The Good Wife, a duet with Liza Minelli, and he is the owner of a cabaret bar in New York called Club Cumming.

Cumming’s last visit to the city was when he staged his solo show Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2017.

“I first came to Adelaide in 1989 when I was part of a cabaret act called Victor And Barry… and have always loved the welcome I’ve received there. And of course cabaret, with a big and small C, has always been very close to my heart!” said Cumming, who identifies as bisexual and lives in New York with his husband Grant Shaffer and their two dogs.

The festival announced the appointment at the conclusion of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2020: Bite-Sized & Home Delivered on June 20 – the festival was held online this year due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

“To be asked to come and curate Adelaide Cabaret Festival after this missing year, to be able to bring together the most vibrant of the world’s cabaret performers, to ask them to entertain us, provoke us, make sense of the maelstrom we’re living through, and most of all remind us why cabaret is such a vital form of connection between performer and audience – well, it doesn’t get much better!” said Cumming in a press statement, adding cheekily, “And apparently you have some nice wine too!”

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The incoming artistic director gave a ‘bite-sized’ preview of what’s in store with a video performance recorded at Club Cummung of Ladies Who Lunch, a song from the Broadway musical Company.

Ebony Bott, Adelaide Festival Centre Creative Director Cabaret & Commercial welcomed the new appointment. “Alan Cumming is the master of cabaret – and indeed the many artistic pursuits he has put his hand to! “Adelaide Cabaret Festival is loved by so many artists across the world, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming an international Artistic Director at a time when our global community is in need of galvanising.”

The online edition of the festival this year had Australian and international cabaret stars post performances which were seen over 1.5 million times between June 5-June 20, according to the organisers.

Outgoing artistic director Julia Zemiro said that her second year at the festival was challenging and COVID-19 “made us pause in the most profound and serious way. We channelled some of these feelings through our online Bite-Sized & Home Delivered cabaret offering, asking artists to respond to this strange new state of the world, personally and politically – the true trademark of cabaret.”

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