Yiddish flavour to cabaret festival

Galit Klas strides centre stage as she is watched by fellow performers in Yiddish Divas.
Photo: Jon Moss

This year the Melbourne Cabaret Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary with highlights including Yiddish Divas and a tribute show to Amy Winehouse. Danny Gocs reports.

YIDDISH Divas, the stage show featuring leading local singers performing in Yiddish that premiered at the Kadimah last year, is making a return at this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival being held from June 19-30.

While much of the show – a tribute to Yiddish music – remains the same, there have been changes to the line-up under artistic director Evelyn Krape.

“It is a similar production to last year, but we have fewer divas in the cast,” Krape told The AJN.

Yiddish Divas stars Galit Klas, Karen Feldman, Elisa Gray, Rachel Tigel, Ines Gotmaker and Tomi Kalinski, with two performers – Freydi Mrocki and Evie Gawenda – dropping out for personal reasons.

“It promises to be a great show as part of the cabaret festival,” said Krape. “We are inviting the audience into a female world of allure, concealment and transformation while celebrating the power, beauty and mystery of Yiddish music.”

Among the songs featured in Yiddish Divas are Arbeter Froyen (A Call to Arms), Di Shvartse Kats (The Black Cat), ghetto songs and Yiddish versions of New York, New York and What a Wonderful World.

Yiddish Divas is at Chapel Off Chapel for three shows on June 22-23.

Sydney-born New York-based singer Alexis Fishman is bringing her Amy Winehouse tribute show to the cabaret festival, hot on the heels of performing it in New York.

At the New York fundraising event on May 29 for the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Fishman shared the bill with Amy’s father Mitch, a jazz singer who has recorded two albums.

“Mitch is a terrific jazz singer and he’s thrilled that people like me are paying tribute to Amy and keeping her memory and music alive,” Fishman told The AJN by phone from New York.

“I’m excited to be coming back to Australia to perform Amy Winehouse: Resurrected at the festival and I will be staying in Australia for a few months to do other projects in Sydney.”

Fishman (pictured below) performed her Amy Winehouse show at the Shir Madness Jewish Music Festival in Sydney and has staged it in New York, but her Melbourne shows will feature an eight-member band and several backing vocalists.

“In the show I tell the story of Amy’s life and it has all her big hits plus other songs that she did as cover versions,” explained Fishman, who wears a beehive wig and tattoos while on stage.

Amy Winehouse: Resurrected is at Chapel Off Chapel for three shows on June 26-27.

It is Fishman’s first time back in Melbourne for eight years. She last appeared at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival performing her cabaret act, Club Gelbe Stern, which was set in prewar Berlin.

“I’m really excited to be back on the stage in Melbourne.”

Fishman graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a degree in musical theatre and has appeared in shows including Dusty, Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Urinetown.

In 2018 Fishman moved to New York to further her career and has performed in numerous cabaret shows and off-Broadway theatre.

“Moving to New York was always a dream for me, but I’m also glad to be coming back to Australia to catch up with family and friends, and I hope to come back more often for work in Australia,” she said.

Fishman will perform in Boychiks of Broadway at the Sydney Jewish Museum on August 22 – a show she performed at Shir Madness Jewish Music Festival, the Sound Lounge at the Seymour Centre in Sydney and at Pangea in New York City.

In September Fishman will perform on stage in The God of Isaac at Darlinghurst Theatre Company in Sydney.

Also performing at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival is award-winning singer Fem Belling brings to life rare and racy songs from the jazz world’s colourful history, accompanied by Jake Mason of Cookin’ On 3 Burners fame, on the organ. Her show, Fem ’n ’n Organ, is being staged at Chapel Off Chapel on June 25-26.

Playwright Ron Elisha’s new work, I Really Don’t Care, is being performed at Chapel Off Chapel ‘s The Loft from June 27-29. Starring Kate Yaxley and accompanied by pianist Mark Jones, it takes a look into the White House and the world of Melania Trump, posing the question over whether she is an innocent bystander of US politics or a self-serving tactician.

Blues performer Louis King and ARIA-winning vocalist Pat Powell will perform songs that tell the story of Sun Records, established in Memphis in 1950, in Sun Songs at Chapel Off Chapel on June 20-22.

The festival’s Opening Gala on June 19 features highlights of some of the shows in the festival including Fishman’s tribute show and Creatures of the Deep, who won the Melbourne Fringe award for best cabaret show.

The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is at Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran, from June 19-30. 
Bookings: melbournecabaret.com

Alexis Fishman stars in her tribute show, Amy Winehouse: Resurrected at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.