The Brisbane Festival is set to explode across the city this September, with a thrilling 22-day lineup of theatre, music, dance, circus, cabaret, opera, film and visual art.
This year’s festival will host more than 60 events – with many free to view and many exclusive to Queensland – at venues across the city including QPAC, Brisbane Powerhouse, the Riverstage, the Tivoli, the Southbank Cultural Forecourt, and the South Bank Piazza.
“Brisbane Festival is proud to be a leading international arts festival, bringing some of the biggest names in the business from all over the world to our river city throughout September,” Brisbane Festival Artistic Director David Berthold said.
2017 marks both the 20th anniversary of Brisbane Festival’s Riverfire, and the 100th anniversary of historic Tivoli building.
“It’s a big year for The Tiv, so we thought we’d celebrate in style with a program of very special shows, aimed at celebrating the past, while looking towards an exciting future for the venue,” Berthold said.
View some of the highlights from this year’s Brisbane Festival below:
Diamonds Are For Trevor
A gala evening celebrating Shirley Bassey’s 80th birthday with Helpmann Award nominee Trevor Ashley and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in QPAC’s Concert Hall. With a stunning 24-piece orchestra conducted by John Foreman, Trevor – wearing dazzling costumes by Oscar-winning designer Tim Chappel (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) – performs dozens of Shirley’s classic hits. Trevor tells the Shirley Bassey rags-to-riches story like never before. Along with the sequins, jewels, big gowns and bigger hair, expect to hear ‘Big Spender’, ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Never, Never, Never’, ‘This is My Life’, ‘History Repeating’ and ‘Diamonds are Forever’. Take a tour of Shirley’s life, complete with feathers, flash, and frequent diva tantrums.
Fun House will bring all the eye-popping, sugar-rushing, heart-racing fun to this year’s Brisbane Festival. From the creators of Blanc de Blanc and LIMBO comes a brand new show full of exhilaration, exaltation and the best kind of inflation. Watch as a cast of international performers create a pop-up technicolour world before your very eyes and then invite you in to explore. Featuring the music of viral YouTube sensation DJ Pogo, pale-faced harlequin Spencer Novich, multi-award winning star of Kracken Trygve Wakenshaw, and – direct from Broadway – circus extraordinaire Kyle Driggs, this will undoubtedly be Brisbane’s biggest house party.
Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves The World
Meet Betty Grumble – surreal showgurl, obscene beauty queen, and sex clown. Experience her ecosexual cabaret of deep disco dissent and drama. Witness her sensual odyssey of maniacal laughter, internal organs and unashamed ritual of song and dance, protest and prance. This is a shamanic striptease of storytelling and an earthly date with Gaia amongst garbage and glamour.
Terror is a thrilling courtroom drama that has been stirring debate across the globe. A hijacked plane is heading towards a packed football stadium. Ignoring orders, a fighter pilot shoots the plane down, killing the 164 people on board in order to save the 70,000. Put on trial and charged with murder, the fate of the pilot is in the audience’s hands. You are the jury, so how will you vote?
Delve deeper into the vivacious and exhilarating party that was the award-winning, international sensation LIMBO by production house Strut and Fret. This is a brazen, crazed and wildly hypnotic exploration of your favourite LIMBO characters alongside some of the best circus performers from around Australia and the world. Continuing all the sexiness, sizzle and edge-of-your-seat spectacle of LIMBO, this unhinged new show takes you into an even grittier and hotter netherworld.
Bitch: The Origin of the Female Species
This is a visually rich theatrical reclamation of one of the most complex insults in the English language. A reflection of the animal in nature and the animal in our nature. Winner of Production of the Year and Best Original Script at the 2017 Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards, BITCH tells the story of a man suffering a stroke told through the eyes of his female dog. Created by theatre veteran Edith Podesta (Best Actress, Life! Theatre Awards 2014) and featuring Helmut Bakaitis (The Matrix Reloaded) and Brisbane’s very own Merlynn Tong with stellar multimedia, BITCH unleashes our primordial instincts from domesticity.
Inspired by the music of the legend that was David Bowie, this worldwide smash-hit show is a starburst of cabaret and rock. Enter the hyper-real world of seventies glam rock where the supremely talented entertainer Sven Ratzke inhabits Bowie’s multiple personas – a mad, bizarre, androgynous universe. Explore Bowie’s life from New York to Berlin and rediscover his classic songs in this crazy rock ’n’ roll ride. Ratzke is accompanied by his brilliant three-man band with the music grooving from rock into sound collages and intimate moments.
Megan Washington and Queensland Symphony Orchestra
With her feet once firmly rooted in jazz, Megan Washington burst onto the Australian music scene in 2008 with a unique and evolving approach to indie-pop and alternative rock. The two-time ARIA Award-winner and her band will join the Queensland Symphony Orchestra a the QPAC Concert Hall to perform brand new songs from her forthcoming album and a selection of favourites from her previous three.
Young Hearts Run Free
The Cardigans. Radiohead. Everclear. Garbage. Des’ree. Butthole Surfers. The kid with the voice. Other songs you knew all the words to. It’s been 20 years since Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and its nostalgic soundtrack, and you’re invited to the ultimate 90s masquerade-ball rock show at The Tivoli. The full soundtrack will be brought to life by a stellar line-up of musicians and performers to be announced in early August, followed immediately by a 1997 DJ set and a late-night after-party performance by Electric Fields.
Riverfire’s 20th Anniversary
Sunsuper Riverfire is Queensland’s ultimate fireworks display, wrapping up the festival on its final night for the 20th time since the first display was held in 1998. To celebrate, more than 20 minutes of fireworks will be accompanied by musical memories of the last 20 years, from 1998 right up to the present. Spectators will also be wowed by aerial aerobatics from the Australian Defence Force in the afternoon and evening.
Brisbane Festival runs from 9-30 September in various venues around the city. See the full list of events and attractions and for tickets visit the event’s website.