Ken Longworth | Newcastle Fringe Festival

The Acappelicans: These singers perform without musical accompaniment. They will be performing at Hamilton’s Wesley Church
The Acappelicans: These singers perform without musical accompaniment. They will be performing at Hamilton’s Wesley Church

THE 2018 Newcastle Fringe Festival will offer an amazing range of 25 shows, including comedy, adult and children’s theatre, music, dance and cabaret, when it is staged from March 21 to 25.

There will be 71 performances at six venues over the festival’s five days, presented by performers from Germany, Canada, England, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, as well as Newcastle and surrounds - the inner city’s Royal Exchange, Grand Hotel and Christ Church Cathedral; Newcastle West’s Catapult Dance Studio; and two Hamilton institutions, the Gallipoli Legion Club and the Wesley Church.

The intimate Royal Exchange, for example, will have two very different female solo singers – Carlotta the Great, whose cabaret, A Showgirl: Deconstructed, illustrates how notions of what a showgirl is have changed over the ages; and Sister Ursuline, who accompanies her own songs, which look at women through the centuries, by playing a cello. Newcastle’s Clark Gormley will offer in Clark’s Nerdy Science Show a mix of comedy and music, with changing background images, as he looks at famous and eccentric boffins from throughout history. Charlie D. Barkle’s Shaken: A James Bond Cabaret will amusingly pit, with accompanying songs, the seven screen James Bond actors against each other trying to prove they are the best 007. Justin Buchta’s one-man play Wouldman, which explores with comic sketches, acrobatics, song and dance how actors use their bodies in performances, will have two versions: a matinee work for children and an evening show for adults. And Girls to the Front, a collection of poetry by women, will be staged by Writing Through Fences, a group of writers and artists who have been detained in Australia’s immigration prisons and those who have supported the detained.

The shows being staged at other venues likewise have considerable variety. Hamilton’s Wesley Church has The Acappelicans, a singing group who perform without musical accompaniment a wide range of musical numbers, including recent hits, jazz standards, traditional ballads, 60s pop, musical theatre and 90s nostalgia. The F Word is a comedy which has three female magistrates from different time periods looking at feminism through the ages. The Fun Talker is an amusing look by Ally Baharoon at what his stutter has done to relationships over the past 20 years. And Do You See What I See? has Newcastle’s Angela Laurette Michelle interacting with the audience as she looks at how people see each other.

Visit for more information about the shows, venues, dates and times, and booking arrangements. Tickets for most of the shows are $20 or $25, with children’s tickets for their shows $10 or $15.

Heat’s on with Burlesque Idol

THE 2018 edition of Burlesque Idol, a national competition which gives aspiring burlesque performers the chance to show their skills, will have two Hunter events. The Newcastle heat will be held at the Lizotte’s entertainment restaurant at Lambton on Thursday, March 8. And the grand final will be part of the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival on Friday, March 23, with the seven finalists from the shows across Australia performing.

This is the fifth year of the Australian burlesque competition, part of an international contest that was initiated in London in 2010. Burlesque Idol is a high-energy and entertaining evening, jam-packed with talent, humour and audience participation. From glamorous Vegas-inspired showgirls to comediennes who will have the whole room laughing, poets, opera singers, and more, Burlesque Idol celebrates all forms of burlesque, creating a unique night of entertainment – and there are even some males among the participants.

The 11 performers at the Newcastle heat, which will feature a comedian host, will include Ana Seethe, Fellatio Von Trap, Katrina Lee, Mauve Divine, Miss Surely Knot, Pearly Paradox, Ruby Corvette, Silla Black, Sugar Derramar, Summer Dragonfly, and Vivienne Rose. The winner is chosen through a 70 per cent audience, 30 per cent judges, vote. 

The Newcastle heat (tickets $35) will be at 8.30pm, will audience members able to buy meals from 6pm. Bookings: 4956 2066. The final will be at Weston Workers Club at 7.30pm. Tickets $20; bookings 4936 1909.