Invercargill’s first cabaret festival almost here

Upstage: Invercargill Festival of Cabaret is almost here.

The inaugural festival – set to take place in Invercargill from August 11 to August 19 – will include a smorgasbord of entertainment, from classic cabaret to traditional taonga pūoro, burlesque performances, music ranging in genre from folk to pop-soul, stand-up comedy, and even a cocktail masterclass thanks to the award-winning Cardrona Distillery.

Invercargill City Council Venues Manager Jason Wade said Upstage would feature nine evening events, as well as matinee cinema screenings and nine interactive workshops that would allow locals to tap into the knowledge of performers from around the country.

“This is the first time we’ve ever held Upstage, and we believe it is Invercargill’s first-ever cabaret festival. It’s something a little bit different for the city, and we’re looking forward to it kicking off,” he said.

“We are really proud to support the arts here in Invercargill, and we wanted to ensure all of the events being held as part of Upstage were financially accessible, which is reflected in our ticket prices. The arts should be for everybody – and we’re hoping that by bringing such a diverse range of acts to the city, Upstage encourages people to get out, and take in some talent from around the country.”

To further encourage people to “make a night out of it”, the Civic Theatre would also have a pop-up gin bar open prior to each performance, Wade said.

The festival had garnered some great support from partners including Arts Murihiku, which would co-ordinate the workshops, Great South, Invercargill Central Ltd, ILT and The Langlands Hotel.

“I think the great thing about Upstage is that it showcases what cabaret really is. Some people have the perception that cabaret is just about jazz hands and high kicks, but it’s actually incredibly broad. Cabaret does include music and dance with a bit of razzle dazzle, but it also encompasses genres like stand-up comedy, burlesque performance, and live music,” Wade said.

“Upstage includes a real mixture of musical acts as well – from the pop-soul of local singer/songwriter Michael Kuresa, who will be launching his new single, to traditional taonga pūoro from the Whirimako Black Trio, folk music from Looking for Alaska, and disco-country, courtesy of our closing act The Saggy Britches Band.”

Alice Hore, from Oamaru-based The Saggy Britches Band, said the crew was excited to bring its one-of-a-kind, self-proclaimed “electrifying fusion” sound to the deep south.

The band will perform at the festival’s Wrap Party at Invercargill’s Scottish Hall on Saturday August 19.

“The band started off about eight years as a three-piece. While we still sometimes play as the smaller acoustic version, lately The Saggy Britches Band has expanded to a six-piece, with musicians coming and going from the line-up. Our performances are always fresh – you never quite know what to expect,” she said.

The band was made up of Hore on vocals, Tony Campbell on vocals/guitar, Steve Harrop on bass, Victoria van der Spek on violin/keys, Austen McMillan on drums, and Tom Harvard on percussion/sound.

“We’ve been performing together around the place for awhile, but this will be our first time venturing to Southland. We’re really excited to get in front of a southern crowd, and we hope they get into the swing of things – the more dazzling flares, sparkling sequins, fabulous fringe and good old southern yeehaws, the better.”

For more information on the festival line-up, and to purchase tickets, click here.