Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 25 June 2021
We thought nothing could stop the Eurovision Song Contest. The plastic glitter tv extravaganza that has been jauntily assaulting our eyeballs, ears and self-respect since 1956 is proof against international conflict, political controversy and stage-bombers. But a little virus from a non-competing country cancelled the contest in 2020 and Eurovision tragics had to content themselves with The Story of Fire Saga . The SBS music quiz tv show RocKwiz is keeping the legend alive in 2021 for those Australians who cannot travel. From the Gershwin Room in St Kilda’s Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne to the Festival Theatre in Adelaide they travelled, despite everything, for the 2021 Cabaret Festival. Brian Nankervis, Julia Zemero (the antipodean queen of Eurovision – joint narrator with Sam Pang for 8 years), the RocKwiz Band, Angus the shirtless scorekeeper and all.
Following the usual format, four audience members qualified to join the celebrities on the two panels. They were three people eligible for the Astra-Zeneca jab and the teenage Max who, in year 10, knows far more about Eurovision than is good for anyone.
Jay Zee dazzled in a gold wizard dress and a Kate Miller-Heidke crown which, she claimed, she put together at Spotlight. The crowd was wowed by the Eurovision-relevant celebrities; Montaigne, fresh from her near miss, performed “Technicolor” superbly, disappearing for a while to allow Adelaide’s own Hans – who, we are told, is Australia’s 2022 Eurovision entrant – to outdo JayZee in the sequin department, spinning and sashaying through “Cabaret” before joining the panel and adding nothing at all to their score. Alan Cumming, the director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival stoutly stood in for in Dami Im – true Eurovision royalty – who fell victim to timetable conflicts and COVID entanglements. He did a ripping version of “Mein Herr” from Cabaret. Renowned guitarist Olympia gave us Dami Im’s “Sound of Silence”, a little shrilly.
The questions ranged from the piece of cake, “‘which Icelandic country has not yet won Eurovision?” to the less cakey, ”what was unusual about the song with which Sandie Shore won for England in 1967?” (No, it’s not just that England heaved itself up from ‘nul points’, to which it returned in 2021. It was the first English-language winning entrant). Max knew almost all of the answers. TVC foresees dry ice and contortionists in his future.
The audience’s response to it all was delighted hand-waving and answer-shouting. Everyone delighted us at the end with an ABBA song which need not be named, complete with side turns from Hans and Alan and a finale of “Volare” (3rd place in 1958).