Stars All The Way

Life is a Cabaret, old chum - especially in Sydney over the next few days.

But it might be a "catch him if you can" situation for one of Australia's leading cabaret performers.

David Campbell heads back to New York (and may not return for a very long time, going on his current popularity there) but only after a couple of appearances today at the Hayden Cremorne Orpheum where he is taking part in the Gershwin centenary celebration. Sadly the two gigs are sold out but there's one last chance to see Campbell when he takes the stage tomorrow at the opening night of the Sydney Cabaret Convention.

Campbell joins one of the all-time great performers, Lana Cantrell, and a host of big names from the small stages at this fast growing week of intimate entertainment.

This year sees 65 acts from all over Australia giving their very best for seven minutes at a time at the Town Hall.

The names include established performers like Combo Fiasco, Paul Capsis, Jeanne Little, Toni Lamond and Geraldine Turner - and the Two Men And A Broad team of Jonathon Biggins, Phil Scott and Linda Nagle - as well as newcomers to the cabaret scene.

Derek Metzger, a very promising musical star, will make his debut with a show written by Tony Sheldon.

It's an easy-to-please format which gives the performers a seven minute chance to impress and the audience (from as a little as $15 a seat) one of the best value engagements in town.

And of course no cabaret would be complete without the legendary Judi Connelli, who is also breaking in the new cabaret room at the Sebel Townhouse.

Connelli, like Campbell, has been accorded rare accolades in New York where the New York Times critic Clive Davis wrote that she was more than just a vocalist... "Connelli is a theatrical force of nature".

In London she was a sellout at the Talk Of the Town and she is heading back for a season at New York's Firebird cafe, one of that city's leading venues.

Ironically, one of London's leading critics suggested Connelli would be the ideal star to play Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevarde.

Connelli was certainly on a shortlist for that role in Australia but began moving her career into cabaret when she didn't get the role. Her career nearly collapsed in 1995 when she was involved in a serious car accident.

But she found a new strength and perhaps a new Connelli.

She returned with such force that her performances are ranked truly world class.

By Paul LePetit - Sunday Telegraph, June 28, 1998