The changing face of cabaret

In the last 15 years, cabaret has grown from a niche art form to mainstream entertainment. We find out why, and whether different cities boast unique cabaret styles.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Variety Gala; image via

Once relegated to just a paltry page or two in Fringe Festival programs, and overshadowed by other performing art forms such as comedy and theatre, over the past 10 to 15 years the Australian cabaret sector has come into its own. Dedicated cabaret festivals thrive in many of our major cities, and cabaret artists draw large and loyal crowds at the likes of Perth’s Fringe World and Hobart’s Festival of Voices.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts