Cabaret Season is upon us — here are the shows you don’t want to miss

If you’ve been feeling a little more fabulous than usual of late, it’s because there’s a delightfully festive feeling in the air. Late September marks Auckland city’s collective embrace of Cabaret Season, a night-time playground for songstresses and temptresses, poised the wings and ready to take over.

Supported by Auckland Live, Cabaret Season is an event that offers conviviality at its core, where even the most discerning critics of live performance are promised an evening to remember. With a burgeoning line-up of ridiculous talent, we’ve selected a few of our highlights.


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Modern Māori Quartet: Ngā 80s
Far from the typical performance one associates with cabaret season, if we could only recommend one show to everyone, it would be this. Bringing back all of your favourite ’80s tunes in the epic tones of a traditional quartet, with just the right amount of comedic edge, it’s everything we love about live performance in one fabulous affair. It’s the kind of performance that would only shine among local audiences — but that it absolutely does.

The Soundtrack from Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge
Perhaps one of the most iconic cinematic curations of music, Moulin Rouge holds a special place in our hearts for more than just its incredible cast. This month, a spectacular line-up unites an ensemble of outstanding New Zealand artists and musicians for a rock-orchestral celebration of this magical musical creation. One that, we think, would make Baz Luhrmann proud.

Champagne & Cabaret with Kita & Anita
The stars and local icons of Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under, Kita Mean and Anita Wigl’it, are set to do the Civic’s excessive interior justice with a high-octane drag-extravaganza. Expect comedy, drama and an absolutely fabulous evening for all.

Hollie Smith Sings Jazz
Few New Zealand voices are as widely known as Hollie Smith. For this year’s cabaret season, she delves into a songbook of revered jazz numbers across the ages, alongside the sublime accompaniment of Nathan Haines. Expect sensual, heart-rendering renditions from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Peter Gabriel and Nina Simone, to name a few, alongside new originals. 

The Piano Bar
Tucked away in the attic of this historic Queen Street venue is The Piano Bar, where all kinds of debauchery lay behind a hidden door. The best way to describe this sordid location is jazz club meets karaoke, where a live band take the stage every night to bring you a curated performance, where the audience becomes stars. It is jazzy, a slight touch gaudy, and honestly the most fun we’ve had in a long time. Packed with cabaret artists, musicians, cocktails and late-night magic, it’s the perfect place to sip on martinis in dark corners and indulge in a definitively daring experience.

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