Upstage: Invercargill Festival of Cabaret is underway

Invercargill’s first cabaret festival ever has started – and the fun is set to carry on all week.

Upstage: Invercargill Festival of Cabaret kicked off on Friday (August 11), with headliner Ali Harper performing for an on-stage, cabaret-style audience at the city’s Civic Theatre.

Invercargill City Council Venues Manager Jason Wade said the gala opening of the festival also included aerial silk performances from local group South Pole Dance, before Harper took to the stage.

“Upstage has well and truly started with a bang,” he said. “We wanted the gala opening of the festival to be a little bit glamorous, and it was fantastic to see so many people really get into the spirit of things. Everybody looked a little bit glitzy, people were enjoying the bubbles, and our performers were just top notch. It was a great night out, and a fabulous way to kick off the festival.”

Singer Ali Harper delighted audiences with her rich homage to cinematic legend Judy Garland, in her show Ali Sings Judy Garland.

Her interest in portraying Garland was piqued after she starred in a play called End of the Rainbow earlier this year. Garland’s story was a complex one, she said.

“She was a ‘star’ but also a wife – many times over – and a mother. She had a childhood that was influenced by the movie industry, and led her to have a life full of addictions and heartache – yet she kept performing and doing what she loved, no matter what was thrown at her,” she said.

The fun carried on the following night, with Ladylike: an all-female stand-up comedy show, held in the Civic Theatre’s recently-refurbished Wikitoria Room on Saturday August 12.

“Invercargill audiences can be a little bit reserved, but everybody who came along was having a great time interacting with a very funny line-up of ladies. There was great rapport and banter the whole night, which was fantastic to see,” Wade said.

Ladylike was hosted by MC Marea Colombo and also featured Molly Force, Nicola Brown, and headliner Harriet Moir.

Last night (Tuesday August 15) audiences were also treated to a sneak peek of Southland singer/songwriter Michael Kuresa’s next single, Currency, which will officially launch later this month.

“Michael really is a homegrown talent, and he’s definitely one to watch. It was a privilege to host him as part of Upstage, and we can’t wait to see what he does next,” Wade said.

The inaugural Upstage: Invercargill Festival of Cabaret will run until Saturday August 19, and features performers from Southland and throughout the country.

As well as another stand-up evening – with Late Night Comedy happening on Friday night – the festival line-up includes traditional taonga pūoro from the Whirimako Black Trio, burlesque from Double Act, and this evening’s sold out gin masterclass with Cardrona Distillery at The Langland’s rooftop bar 360.

Upstage would also include matinee showings of classic films like Singin’ In The Rain and Hello, Dolly! as well as nine workshops, run in conjunction with festival partner Arts Murihiku, which would give the community the chance to tap into the expertise of performers heading south for the event.

Great South, Arts Murihiku, ILT and the Langlands Hotel, Invercargill Central Ltd and Cardrona Distillery are partners of the event.

For more information on the programme, click here.