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Virginia Gay to take the reins as next artistic director of Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Monday, 19 June 2023

We couldn’t wait any longer to share the big news… Adelaide Festival Centre is thrilled to announce award-winning Australian stage and screen star, writer and consummate performer Virginia Gay will take on the role of Artistic Director for the 2024 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Last night – during the second weekend of South Australia’s favourite winter event – two of this year’s nine co-Artistic Directors, David Campbell and Julia Zemiro, passed on the baton to Virginia at Mark Nadler’s Hootenanny late-night show in the Banquet Room.

A popular face on televisions across the country through her roles in Channel 7’s All Saints and Winners and Losers, ABC’s Savage River and SBS A Safe Home, incoming Artistic Director Virginia Gay has won accolades and hearts alike for her stage roles including in Calamity Jane and most recently in Cyrano which she also wrote.  Virginia has also performed at Adelaide Cabaret Festival several times over the years in shows including Dirty Pretty Songs, Songs to Self-Destruct To and Gentlemen Prefer Blokes.

On opening night of Adelaide Cabaret Festival on June 9, Virginia was met with rave reviews and applause for her role as the charismatic host of the sold-out opening night of The 2023 Variety Gala at Festival Theatre. She also directed the development of Gillian Cosgriff’s new musical last week, The Fig Tree, and is taking some time to explore South Australia while in town.

This year will also see Virginia take to the ballroom stage on the brand-new dazzling season of Channel 7s Dancing with the Stars, starting tonight.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2024 Artistic Director Virginia Gay:

Adelaide Cabaret Festival is a place where I have had some of the most extraordinary performance experiences of my life and where I have witnessed, and performed alongside, world class Australian acts and international stars. I love Adelaide audiences - their openness and willingness to see new work, their warm embracing presence and their response to this beloved festival means there’s an electricity in the foyers, backstage and amongst the performers.

“I’m so excited for 2024 - for the game-changing iconic acts, for the up and comers who I know you’re going to love. I’m proud, I’m honoured and I’m so looking forward to delivering a 2024 program that will blow your socks off.”

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM:

“This year has been one of our most successful Adelaide Cabaret Festivals to date with the incredible Cabaret Collective of nine Artistic Directors at the helm. I want to thank our passionate cabaret audiences for attending the many fabulous shows on offer so far and for making the first two weeks so spectacular – we look forward to seeing you around Adelaide Festival Centre for our final week of cabaret. We know Virginia Gay will continue to lead the way as Artistic Director of Adelaide Cabaret Festival next year with her many years of performance experience, and we look forward to her fresh ideas for the 2024 festival.”

Adelaide Cabaret Festival Executive Producer Alex Sinclair:

“We welcome the wonderfully talented Virginia Gay with open arms and tip our cabaret hats to this year’s incredible lineup of Artistic Directors. With just one more week to go of this year’s festival and many sold out shows, we couldn’t keep this news from our loyal cabaret audiences any longer. We know Virginia is a much-loved Australian performer and can’t wait to see what she brings to the 2024 program – watch this space.”

This year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival has been exceptionally well received by audiences with almost 20 sold-out performances in the first two weeks and countless standing ovations. With just one more week to go for the 2023 festival program, audiences can delight in more standout performances by glittering artists including cabaret favourite chanteuse, Rizo in Prizmatism, Geraldine Quinn in BROAD, Nancy Denis in the Adelaide premiere of M’ap Boulè, trumpeter and singer Roscoe James Irwin in Lost In A Dream and the incredible vocal powerhouse Thndo in her new show The Reintroduction.

Tickets available at

Produced and presented by Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Cabaret Festival has grown from modest beginnings in 2001 to become Australia’s major winter festival and the largest cabaret festival of its kind in the world. The festival has been a platform for shows and performers who have achieved critical acclaim and has featured world-renowned artists including Ms Lisa FischerKristin Chenoweth, Tim Minchin, Eddie Perfect, Idina Menzel, Dita Von Teese and Patti LuPone to name a few.

 Previous Artistic Directors of Adelaide Cabaret Festival:

  • The Cabaret Collective: Julia Holt, David Campbell and Lisa Campbell, Kate Ceberano, Eddie Perfect, Ali McGregor, Julia Zemiro, Alan Cumming, and Tina Arena (2023)
  • Tina Arena (2022)
  • Alan Cumming (2021)
  • Julia Zemiro (2019 – 2020)
  • Ali McGregor (2018)
  • Ali McGregor & Eddie Perfect (2016 – 2017)
  • Barry Humphries (2015)
  • Kate Ceberano (2012 – 2014)
  • David Campbell (2009 – 2011)
  • Julia Holt (2001 – 2008)

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2024 will be held from June 7 – 22.

Updates at:

Get Social: Facebook @adelaidecabaretfestival / Instagram @adelaidecabaret #AdCabFest


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, 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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