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2024 Artistic Director Virginia Gay

You have seen her on national TV and international stages; now she's bringing the local, national, and international talent to your doorstep!

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A note from our Artistic Director Virginia Gay:

My favourite thing in the world is bringing delicious things to people I adore. Introducing strangers who I know will become fast friends. Getting to a favourite restaurant and ordering for the table because “If we don’t get six of the little crispy guys, and two of this dessert, we’re gonna be furious.” So, imagine my delight when the glorious Alex Sinclair approached me with this—a job where I get to not only find the most extraordinary acts in the world for you, but also get to scream with wild enthusiasm about them at every opportunity—and no one can stop me! 

Often, on the other side of the world, we’d start to say, “We’d love you to join us at Adelaide Ca—" and stars will stop us, mid-pitch, and say “Oh. We’ve heard about Adelaide Cabaret Festival. We hear it’s the warmest, kindest, most outrageous festival around.” Little footprint, giant heart. That’s us.  

This legacy has been magnificently built by my predecessors—inspirational ADs and tireless programming teams. But it has been fostered and cultivated by  you. It feels like there’s no barrier between artist and audience at AdCabFest. Performances pour off the stage and into the foyer afterwards, and there you are, in your glad rags, belting out songs, laughing, flirting, and drinking champagne like it’s water. You. This. These are my people. This festival is what I want the whole world to feel like—a celebration of community and abundance, togetherness through individuality, in all its sparkling joy. 

Cabaret is beguiling in its simplicity—stories into song. Simple, right? But magic! So, we’ve tried to see how elastic that formula can be. We have bonkers improvised musicals and exceptional musical comedy; inventive theatrical experiences, and live cult podcasts; multi-award winners from home and abroad; and performers you’ve never heard of…but once you have heard ‘em, you’ll never forget ‘em; and always and forever, we have world-class singers and storytellers weaving ecstatic journeys through song. 

I’ve been a nervous and grateful artist here, a euphoric and irrepressible audience member, and it is my great privilege and honour to be its current Artistic Director. But I am first and foremost a fan, so please excuse me as I squeal into my sequined pillow about how exciting this program is, and if I bail you up in foyers and say “Oooo, if you loved that, you’re gonna LOVE this, and if you fang it now, you’ll catch it!”—you can’t be cross with me. It’s my job. xx 

Explore the 2024 program

Soak it in this Adelaide Cabaret Festival and explore our full program.


Virginia Gay graduated WAAPA, then spent four years pretending to be a nurse on All Saints, six months pretending to be Julia Gillard in the STC’s Wharf Revue, and five years on Winners & Losers, where she pretended to know a lot about high finance. That last one, particularly, was a stretch. 

She won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Actress for Calamity Jane, was nominated for a Most Outstanding Actor Logie for After The Verdict (Channel 9), starred in the film Judy & Punch (also starring Mia Wasikowska) which premiered at Sundance, and wrote and directed her short film Paper Cut, which made 2018 Tropfest finals. She starred in Savage River (dir. Jocelyn Moorehouse) for Aquarius Films (ABC, Paramount+), which also starred Katherine Langford, and Safe Home (SBS and Imogen Banks), also starring Aisha Dee. 

In 2020 she wrote two new plays: an adaptation of Cyrano for MTC which sold out its triumphant 2022 run and also toured to the Perth Festival in 2023, and The Boomkak Panto for Belvoir which was a smash hit for Christmas 2021. She starred in both and also co-directed  The Boomkak Panto.

She’s been an apocalyptic squid in Eddie Perfect’s Vivid White, a prize bitch in The Beast, every stop on the bogan-to-hipster spectrum in On The Production Of Monsters, and Nancye Hayes’ granddaughter in Minnie and Liraz, all for the MTC. She played pacifist, suffragist, and feminist Vida Goldstein in The War That Changed Us (ABC), and a fast-talking 1930s photographer in High Society (Hayes Theatre Company). She had a sold-out season at the Opera House of Cautionary Tales for Children (Arena Theatre Company), and was Bea Miles, iconic (and homeless) Sydney eccentric, in the immersive-theatre experience Hidden Sydney

She has written two solo cabaret shows, Songs To Self-Destruct To and Dirty Pretty Songs, both of which sold out at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and which toured nationally and internationally, most notably headlining the Famous Spiegeltent at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe. She also hosted cultural phenomenon La Clique in Leicester Square in Christmas 2019.

She makes regular appearances on Mark Humphries’ sketches for 7:30 (ABC), The Book Club (ABC), Adam Hills’ In Gordon Street Tonight (ABC), Good News Week (Channel 10), Studio at The Memo (Foxtel), The Unbelievable Truth (Channel 7), was team captain for CRAM! (Channel 10). She is extremely proud to play Magda Szubanski’s wife on Channel 9’s After The Verdict, Denise Scott’s daughter-in-law in ABC’s reboot of Mother and Son, and appears in a series of increasingly-unhinged cameos on Channel 7’s new sketch show We Interrupt This Broadcast.

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