Cabaret Fest fills houses, wows crowds

The Divine Miss Bette, cabaret artist Catherine Alcorn sings a variety of Bette Midler songs.
The Divine Miss Bette, cabaret artist Catherine Alcorn sings a variety of Bette Midler songs.

Sellout performances, standing ovations and encores have been the order of the weekend for Taranaki's first cabaret festival.

The Right Royal Cabaret Fest finished on Sunday with theatre, music and a sexy circus and has been heralded as a success by organisers and audiences alike.

Orchestrated by the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust in the Taranaki International Arts Festival off-year, the cabaret was well received by the public, communications manager Lisa McMullan said.

"The house has been pretty much full most nights, the artists have had a fabulous time and enjoyed coming to New Plymouth, and they've had several standing ovations so I think we can call it a success based on the audience response.

"It's been a bright, shining light of humour, comedy music, and entertainment of the best quality and Taranaki has embraced it so it certainly gives us courage for the future," she said.

Despite the success of the festival, the future of the cabaret isn't set in stone.

"We will review, do a debrief and be smart about what we do, but the people of Taranaki are telling us that they've really enjoyed it."

Ms McMullan said both Saturday night acts, The Divine Miss Bette and Die Roten Punkte, had drawn standing ovations and encores for their shows, and Friday night drag queens Bimbo and Buffy had also been a surprising favourite with the crowd.

"The audience was hugely loving, embracing and delighted.

"There were so many people leaving happy who hadn't known what to expect," she said.

The matinee performance of Drowning in Veronica Lake on Sunday afternoon was the least well attended.

Ms McMullan said it was because of the time of day.

"People who like theatre tend to prefer to go out at night, but we feel we are committed to providing a broad range of entertainment to a broad range of people and those that went said it was an exceptional quality act and were left speechless and thoroughly enjoyed it."

However, not all of those who went to watch were that enamoured by the one-woman monologue.

Chris and Lloyd Sorensen, of Waitara, were less than sure the performance was their cup of tea.

"It was different, it's good to have different stuff," Mrs Sorensen said, adding that the couple had been given tickets.

"People would have enjoyed it, if they were into theatre," she said.

"I think she did a very good job with the script. I don't know how she could have remembered all that," Mr Sorensen said.

But a group of New Plymouth women saw the show together and thought it was wonderful.

"I think she was captivating," Mary Sweeny-Black said.

They were as impressed by the massive dress that covered most of the floor of the stage as they were with actress Alex Ellis's portrayal of 1940s' Hollywood movie star Veronica Lake.

"You got a real sense of what she was like, she actually took you into herself," Lilian Hillier said.

Taranaki Daily News