With winter on our door step, it seems only fitting that one of Melbourne’s favourite winter arts festivals returns to warm us up. Returning in 2017 for it’s eighth year, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival is set to bring ten shows to the Australian stage for the first time at Chapel off Chapel.

This year, the Australian Queen of Cabaret Dolly Diamond has taken the reins as Artistic Director, and promises a fabulous festival :“It’s full of homegrown Australian talent with a huge amount of new works being presented. It was important for me this year to draw on the talented artists who live and work in Australia, just as I do. I’m a great admirer of artists working all around the world but I felt it was time to focus on the performers who are the backbone of Australian cabaret” she says.

The festival kicks off in true cabaret style with a sensationally over the top opening gala on Tuesday 20 June showcasing the highlights from across the festival, and will hosted by none other than Dolly Diamond herself.

See the list of shows below.

Australia’s Boys of Motown

Wednesday 21 June (preview) to Sunday 25 June, 6.30pm

Australia’s Boys of Motown is a modern twist on that distinct soul-pop sound that is Motown. These boys blend the world’s best known originals, covers and remakes of Motown, with current chart hits in one Motown inspired spectacle. Sing along to the music of Jackson 5, The Temptations, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons to Bruno Mars.

Featuring Vincent Hooper, Richard Swanson & Barnaby Reiter.

Queen of Broadway – The Ethel Merman Story

Wednesday 21 June (preview) to Sunday 25 June, 7pm

Jon Jackson, acclaimed Australian operatic counter-tenor recreates the life and times of Ethel Merman. Revisit the era and amazing songs of Cole Porter, the Gershwin’s, Irving Berlin and even Amy Winehouse as Miss Merman comes back to earth for one last show. However, first she has to find a body to inhabit. She sends out her wish list and ends up with Mr. Jon Jackson. He’s got the presence and the voice, so his gender is something she’s prepared to overlook.

Ginger and Tonic: For Love or Money

Wednesday 21 June (preview) to Sunday 25 June, 8.30pm

After a lot of touring and a Green Room Award for Best Musical direction for Desperate and Dateless, the Ginger and Tonic girls are still struggling in love, but that’s not going to stop them from being the awesome women that they are. They have big ideas – huge ideas – to make big bucks! Or do they…? Using their powerful voices and tight harmonies, this time the girls are pitching in more ways than one, hoping to find success in this dog-eat-dog world.

You’re My World – The Story of Cilla Black

Tuesday 27 June (preview) to Saturday 1 July, 6.30pm

Fresh from a sold-out season with rave reviews at Perth Fringe, You’re My World – The Cilla Black Story is a biographical cabaret full of the powerhouse vocals and self-deprecating humour that made Cilla Black one of the UK’s most beloved performers. We meet the British Pop Icon and Television Personality at the peak of her popularity and reminiscing about her childhood in Liverpool, her meteoric rise to fame and sharing a few cheeky showbiz anecdotes about John, Paul, George, Ringo and her old mate Queen Elizabeth II. With beautiful arrangements of Cilla’s greatest hits, songs include: Goin’ Out of My Head, Alfie, Step Inside Love, Sing A Rainbow, Anyone Who Had A Heart and You’re My World.

Written and Performed by Danielle O’Malley. Musical Direction by Mark Jones with a line-up of piano, bass, and percussion.

Blue: The Songs of Joni Mitchell

Tuesday 27 June (preview) to Saturday 1 July, 7pm

Renowned for her artful storytelling and raw, emotive vocals, cabaret chanteuse Queenie van de Zandt, returns to the cabaret stage with a brand-new show exploring the songs, stories and art of the musical legend that is Joni Mitchell. In Blue: The Songs of Joni Mitchell, Queenie, along with musical director Vicky Jacobs and a live band, explore her love of all things Joni – affectionately reinterpreting Joni Mitchell’s melancholy music, and intimately revealing the stories behind some of her most haunting songs such as A Case of You, Both Sides, Now and Little Green.

Cyrens – The Swingin’ Songbook of Cy Coleman

Tuesday 27 June (preview) to Saturday 1 July, 8.30pm

A musical revue celebrating the legendary Broadway composer and jazzman Cy Coleman, known for shows such as Sweet Charity, Barnum, On the Twentieth Century, The Life and City of Angels, but his musical roots were in the jazz world. Cy Coleman’s songs are known for their sophistication and wit. Amanda Harrison (Wicked), Chelsea Renton-Gibb (Chicago) and Melissa Langton (The Fabulous Singlettes) are also known for their sophistication and wit –but more for singing loud and high and knowing how to sell the hell out of a song! Cyrens is performed with a four-piece band, some dangerously close three-part harmony, arrangements by Mark Jones and a few jokes and a dash of Bob Fosse.

Dolly Diamond: The Lady is a Tramp

Tuesday 27 June (preview) to Saturday 1 July, 9pm

THE LADY IS A TRAMP is an autobiographical tell-all and celebration of the life of a hard-working and fearless woman. Featuring tales of Dolly Diamond‘s life, loves and (alleged) lascivious behaviour this show features sensational new material and the incomparable Shanon Whitelock on piano. Like so many pioneering women before her Dolly refuses to be branded a ‘scarlet woman’ for simply embracing her sexuality or ‘opinionated’ for speaking her mind. This cabaret diva is making a loud and proud contribution in her lifetime and refuses to apologise for that.

There are a number of shows still in the works, with some established and emerging artists that have never graced the Cabaret stage.

The Melbourne Cabaret Festival kicks off at Chapel off Chapel on Tuesday June 20th and finishes on Sunday July 2.

Tickets are available online through the website http://melbournecabaret.com/