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Life is a Cabaret

1.     How did the idea for OzCabaret come about?

From left to right: Jess Edmeades, Sarah Regan and Katrina Kirkwood.

The idea of the show actually began during our graduating year at Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Australia in 2009. My husband, who is also the Producer of OzCabaret, Jordan Edmeades, started with a small idea that he wrote down in his journal about a cabaret that involved wine tasting to personal stories and famous winesongs, which are songs that contain the idea or theme of wine. You’d be surprised how many there are out there. Most people’s first response is “Red Red Wine,” which was originally written and performed by Neil Diamond (much better than the UB40 version).

The idea resurfaced again in early 2011 but the timing wasn’t right.

And then it happened! Myself and the two other girls were all in various parts of the Europe and the UK, we met up in Holland in February 2012 for a crazy Dutch festival called Carnivale and on the train ride into the heart of the festival in Maastricht the idea resurfaced, and the seed was planted. After one crazy weekend of creative brainstorming, an all-night street party and a unified love for Glühwein (the glue that keeps us all together) we were sold and we haven’t looked back since.

Our intimate cabarets are a musical union of wine tasting, candid nostalgia and interactive entertainment that will make you laugh, cry and everything in between. You’ve heard of a ‘Sommelier,’ someone who provides expert service to wine consumers? A ‘Sommelier’ pairs and suggests wines that will best complement each particular item of the consumers experience so that they all work in harmony together. Well, we are ‘Songelier’s’! As ‘Songelier’s,’ we are experts in pairing wines with music and stories so that they too, work in harmony together. For this reason we don’t pretend to be wine experts, we try to find the personality of a wine, the human qualities of a wine, the physical and emotional character of a wine – and then we pair it with a famous wine song. Each song and each wine has it’s own unique story to tell.

2.     What should an audience member expect when they attend one of your shows?

Audience members get to taste a number of delicious wines, two whites, a rose and two reds in the Wine Cabaret or a number of sparkling wines in the Champagne Cabaret, including one high-quality French Champagne. We share our personal memories that are inspired by the wines that we taste, either through song or through storytelling, and the audience is also invited to recall their own memories on our customized tasting sheets. There are lots of real moments, both joyous and at times quite sad, but above all, people should expect something a little special.

3.     How did you come up with the lyrics/themes for your different shows?

Our shows begin with the idea of pairing wines with famous wine songs throughout history, for example “Summer Wine” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood or “Killer Queen” by Queen. So in conceiving a show we start with a list of all the famous wine songs we can find (usually a list of hundreds) and then we whittle them down based on what we as performers relate to and what we think audiences will respond to, then we identify common themes amongst the songs and tie it all together based on that. The priority is to take the audience on a rich journey of nostalgia that is real for both them and us. We also spend a lot of time on creating our own unique interpretations of the wine songs. We have a pretty distinctive sound due to our instrumentation; I play accordion, Katrina plays violin and Sarah plays piano, we all sing and our musical arrangements are a blend of folk, carnival and rock.

4.     What’s your favorite show to perform?

Definitely the Champagne Cabaret, there is something special about bubbles, a treat that we don’t allow ourselves everyday.  To be able to share that with great people, who could ask for more?

5.     What’s been the biggest crowd pleaser?

Every country that we perform in responds to something different, so that’s a difficult question to answer. There is a moment where we pay tribute to a dear friend of ours who passed away; a musical eulogy set to Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova.” It’s very emotional and leaves very few dry eyes in the house. People really appreciate us sharing honest moments with them in such an intimate environment, they come as strangers and often leave as friends.

6.     What was your wine “ah ha” moment?

When we first brought the show back to our home soil in Australia it was for the Adelaide Fringe Festival earlier this year. We secured several local wine partners who provided the wines for tasting during the show and one of these wines was the Rusticana 2007 Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon with it’s delicious flavors of blackcurrant and eucalyptus. The Rusticana winery has 25 acres of vineyards located on the flood plains of the Bremer River in Langhorne Creek in South Australia and is surrounded by Australian gum trees.

When it comes to the eucalyptus taste in wine – that distinctly Australian gumleaf smell and flavor – everyone has an opinion but there is no definitive answer as to how it actually appears in the glass. For me, after so much time away from Australia and having sampled wines from all over the world, it was a real treat to taste this spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon. Each time I sipped it during the show it was like coming home and falling in love with Australia all over again.

7.     What does your tour dates look like for the rest of 2013?

We are debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival throughout August, following that we have a tour of the Netherlands where we have been selected to be part of the Amsterdam Fringe Festival and also the Best of the Fest in Eindhoven, an annual festival that selects the top international acts from around the world to perform in the famous Spiegeltent. The tour will finish in England at the London Wine & Cheese festival with the possibility of hopping over to appear at the Macau City Fringe Festival in November.

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