World-class entertainment

Dubbed Mad March, this month turns South Australia into a mecca for entertainment-hungry punters

Adelaide’s festival season incorporates everything from fine arts and world music to high-octane car races and equine carnivals. Unlike anywhere else in the country, the entertainment season literally takes over the city and much of state, creating an unforgettable spectacle that must be seen to be believed. The Advertisers and Messenger Newspapers’ experienced team of arts editors, music critics and gossip gurus is equipped with the insider knowledge to guide you through the month of madness. Here are our tips:

Adelaide Festival

March 3 to 19 –

Surround sound redefined as an immersive narrative experience in The Encounter on Broadway. Every Brilliant Thing turning depression into laughter at the Dublin Theatre Festival. The Schaubuehne company translating Shakespeare’s Richard III into German – and a drum-and-rap-filled sensory assault – at its purpose-built headquarters in Berlin. Canadian singer Rufus Wainwright channelling Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall. French choreographer Jerome Bel transforming Londoners of every age, shape and description into genuine dance sensations in Gala on the stage at Sadler’s Wells.

You could travel the globe to see all of these shows – or you can find them all in one place during March as part of the 2017 Adelaide Festival. Artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healey have already done all the legwork – or, rather, clocked up the frequent flyer miles – for audiences with their debut line-up.

It also ticks the boxes that some complained were missing from predecessor David Sefton’s programs, which took the Festival to an annual event in 2013 … in particular with the return of grand opera in the stunningly lavish, baroque form of the Glyndebourne production of Handel’s Saul, directed by Barrie Kosky (who also helmed the 1996 Adelaide Festival).

These are extraordinary works, ranging from the expanse of SA’s State Theatre Company and Armfield’s epic outdoor version of The Secret River at Anstey Hill Quarry to the intimacy of German photographer Volker Gerling’s one-man flip-book show, Portraits in Motion.

Perhaps the most acclaimed of all is Betroffenheit, a collaboration between Canadian actor Jonathon Young and choreographic sensation Crystal Pite that stretches the hybrid boundaries of dance and theatre. While the title translates as “sadness’’ or “consternation’’, it also implies the state of shock and bewilderment that follows in the wake of a disaster – and takes the audience on a gripping journey to redemption.

For those seeking lighter fare, Adelaide’s long-forgotten Floating Palais – an ornate ballroom on the River Torrens in the 1920s – will be resurrected on the riverbank as the Festival hub, complete with food, drinks and its own entertainment program.

Our picks for the Festival
The Encounter

Imagine the sensation that someone is behind you, that you can feel their hot breath in your ear, or that you are surrounded by dozens of alien noises. Such is the amazing world created in this piece through the use of sophisticated live surround sound effects to tell the story of a National Geographic photographer who finds himself lost in the Amazon. DunstanPlayhouse, March 7-11


Canadian actor Jonathon Young takes us through the aftermath of his almost unbearable personal tragedy in this collaboration with the dance world’s latest sensation, choreographer Crystal Pite and her company in this boundary-stretching hybrid of theatre and movement. Dunstan Playhouse, March 3 and 4

Peter and the Wolf

From Blackadder to Harry Potter, British actor Miriam Margolyes has delighted generations of fans and will introduce young and old to the instrumental characters of Prokofiev’s timeless Peter and the Wolf, coupled here with Britten’s mini-masterpiece A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Festival Theatre, March 11 and 12

The Secret River

Last used for Peter Brook’s iconic production of The Mahabharata in 1988, the Anstey Hill quarry will come alive with this new outdoor production of Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of the Kate Grenville novel, created especially for the site by Adelaide Festival artistic director Neil Armfield. Anstey Hill Recreation Park, February 28 – March 19

Richard III

Shakespeare’s hunchbacked tyrant is transformed into a death-metal rapping, drum-pounding, microphone-swinging monstrosity in provocative director Thomas Ostermeier’s bloody, visceral and darkly comic interpretation. Her Majesty’s Theatre, March 3-9


 Fringe Festival

February 17 to March 19 –

It starts up above. Every year on the evening of the Fringe opening parade, a weird pink and purple hue stretches across the sky and casts this electric, almost eerie glow over the city. It’s not a normal sunset – this one is always different. It’s like the heavens turn it on just for us and Adelaide at that very moment is the centre of the universe.

After the heart-pumping beats of Safari Disco Club die down and performers leave their trail of streamers and glitter on the streets, the crowds march across the closed-off roads and scatter into venues all around the square mile. We come alive under the night sky, and the hot, crazy mania continues over the next month. Why do you think we call it Mad March?

This year, 5250 artists will present more than 1100 shows for the Fringe Festival; the world’s largest outside of Edinburgh and the biggest in Australia. Shows will take place across SA on balconies, in basements, under big tops and in theatres – even Adelaide Oval is a venue this year. Hell, a bathroom in an old cinema is a venue. The magic pulsates throughout the city. It runs through the small bars (we’ve got about 80 of them), along the lush parklands and through our buzzing laneways.

Big names are everywhere. You might spot Greg Fleet tucking into his favourite pasta dish at Italian restaurant Amalfi, or Sam Simmons sitting outside the Exeter with beer in hand. The naff saying “there’s something for everyone” rings true at Fringe. People can watch buskers giving free street performances; catch a comedian such as Charlie Pickering or Cal Wilson; gawk at massive murals as part of the Street Art Explosion; or stumble upon a new performer who will be the Next Big Thing in a few years.

The Fringe is many things. It’s sweating inside the Rhino Room at midnight, gasping as Arj Barker walks on stage to do a random set for the comedy club’s famous Late Show. It’s sitting with five strangers inside a basement theatre as the sole performer passes around grapes (this really happened). It’s sitting on a hill under fairy-lit trees as music booms from a nearby tent. It’s the minutes spent adjusting to the outside world after leaving a moving theatre performance.

It’s our festival. And it’s yours, too.

Our picks for the Fringe

Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel was adapted into a controversial stage play before the film starring Ewan McGregor emerged in 1996. The black comedy about Edinburgh’s heroin scene of the ‘80s will get the stage treatment from Scotland’s In Your Face Theatre in this immersive piece under the train station.  Station Underground, February 17 – March 19

Blanc de Blanc

The latest show from Strut & Fret will be a cracker if their past shows are anything to go by. Expect vintage glamour, acrobatics, a making-out session (yes), cheeky humour and skin – lots of skin. Not one for the prudish.  Magic Mirror Spiegeltent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Rundle Park, February 17 – March 19

Butt Kapinski

Private eye Butt Kapinski, the alter ego of American comedy artist Deanna Fleysher, is heralded as one of the best acts of the Fringe. Leave your shyness at the door and get ready to spend an hour firmly engrossed in this film noir murder mystery. Campanile at The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Rundle Park, February 17-March 19

We Live by the Sea

Fresh from a sold-out run at Edinburgh Festival and stints in New York and London, this new work about a connection between a girl on the autism spectrum and a lonely teen involves playful but gentle visual storytelling and a live electronic score. Presented by Joanne Hartstone in association with Patch of Blue & Greenwich Theatre. The Black Forest at Royal Croquet Club, Pinky Flat/Tarnda Womma, War Memorial Drive, North Adelaide, February 16 – March 19

19 Weeks

Last year, Adelaide playwright Emily Steel had an abortion after her baby was diagnosed with Down syndrome. By a hotel pool, performer Astrid Pill tells Steel’s story so others might tell theirs. The show, one of nine to receive funding from the Adelaide Fringe Artist Fund, is directed by Daisy Brown. Steel’s past Fringe shows, Rocket Town and Sepia, have both won Fringe awards. Adina Basement Pool at Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury, 2 Flinders St, March 1-18


Clipsal 500 Adelaide

March 2 to 5 –

The Hilltop Hoods will make it a trifecta at this year’s Clipsal 500.

The Adelaide rap sensations are set to take to the main stage for the third time in the after-race concert held during the annual four-day Supercar event.

Joined by fellow rapper Seth Sentry, hip hop act The Funkoars and, up-and-coming soul and R&B singer Aaradhna, the Clipsal concert is once again moving away from its rock roots.

“I guess before it was Barnesy and that but just the fact that hip hop in this country – and local hip hop – has become much more mainstream and it’s more normalised now,” the Hoods MC Suffa says.

“It’s been big for 10 years now and people have grown up with it – they are men in their 30s who have been coming to shows since they were kids – so it has become a big part of Australian culture now,” MC Pressure adds.

But never fear – the rock is also as prominent as pit lane at this year’s event. Australian music fans, may have thought the rock ‘n’ roll river that is Hunters and Collectors had run dry, however there will be true tears of joy at this year’s Clipsal 500 as the iconic Aussie rockers reunite for a one-off gig.

The band will headline the event on Saturday, March 4. Hunters and Collectors frontman Mark Seymour says this year’s event will suit the reformed rockers who have always been a big stage band. “One-off gigs like this don’t come around often and the band relishes the opportunity to let rip in South Australia,” he says. “We’ve played some great shows there over the years – from The Tivoli to the Thebarton Theatre – we even did the Grand Prix before Jeff Kennett stole it.”

After three decades, Seymour admits it is surprising that the band is still going. “Yeah it is to be honest,” he explains. “We started back in ’81 and we were in our early 20s so you don’t have any idea that anything is going to last that long.”

Our picks for the Clipsal 500

There’s a reason these guys are one of the biggest selling Australian artists of the last decade. After almost 20 years together onstage the trio put every ounce of energy into their tight performance that seemingly gets better with every tour and — undoubtedly — every release. Through MC Pressure’s emotive verses to Suffa’s trademark sprints across the stage, Australia’s biggest hip hop act refuse to rest on their success. Returning to the live stage sans-orchestra, Clipsal will find the boys stripped back to their raw and powerful best.


Their story begins like many bands but has an ending only a few can relate too.
Their self-titled debut studio album arrived in mid-1982 to critical acclaim as the young Australian band were finding their sound and a fan base. After many successes, just ten years later a much different band began a musical assault on the Australian charts with their career defining album Cut that helped them reach new heights. Heck, how many bands have a tribute album featuring Birds of Tokyo, Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn. That alone shows the calibre and love. from fans and the music world alike, for this Aussie rock powerhouse.


Behind their labelmates Hilltop Hoods, Funkoars led by the seemingly unstoppable MC and producer Trials will bring their distinct flavour and cutting rhymes to the Clipsal big stage. Expect big beats and the brutally honest battle-raps that have earned these guys a legion of fans.


It has been a nudge over 25 years since the release of the anthemic rock single One Word — and the original Baby Animals are celebrating. The band, fronted by Suze DeMarchi, with guitarist Dave Leslie, bassist Dario Bortolin and drummer Mick Skelton, will bring new and old rock tracks to the Clipsal 500. A quarter of a century on, DeMarchi is still one of Australia’s most revered and respected frontwoman


The future of Adelaide music will be showcased at the Clipsal 500 with the Music SA’s Bands On Track Support Acts. More than 100 local acts entered the Bands On Track competition to support the likes of Hilltop Hoods or Hunters & Collectors. South Sudanese refugee hip hop crew Playback 808 and local soul hip hop DC & Dragz will share the stage alongside rap royalty Hilltop Hoods on Friday, March 3.

On Saturday, March 4, local rockers The Byzantines and garage rock trio Battlehounds will support the legendary Hunters & Collectors and Baby Animals. Previous winners include Koral & The Goodbye Horses, Bad//Dreems and Thom Lion showing that the event is merely a stepping stone to becoming a staple of the Adelaide live music scene.


March 10 to 13 – WOMADELAIDE.COM.AU

WOMAD’s 2017 line-up promises to be even more eccentric than usual and as always a united nations of music from around the globe in one beautiful, green location.

The Philip Glass Ensemble is bringing the New York composer’s cult classic, Koyaanisqatsi, performing the score live to a screening of the 1982 film.

Jamaican singer Brushy One String, known for playing guitar with a single E string, is coming for the first time, as is The Manganiyar Classroom a big bunch of kids who are hereditary musicians from India and Pakistan.

The Gilberto family, famous for its bossa nova, makes an appearance through Bebel Gilberto daughter of the singer Miucha and the man who invented bossa nova, Joao Gilberto. Bebel will perform with The Specials, the seminal British ska and rocksteady band, who have had international number-one hits and will be making their WOMADelaide debut.

Popular pyrotechnical performance troupe Cite Carabosse is returning for its fourth series of nightly fire installations, while Australian artists at the event include The Waifs and Archie Roach.
While some of these names may be unfamiliar – don’t feel like you’re not invited to the party. The charm of this festival is kicking off your shoes and wandering around Adelaide’s pristine Botanic Park and discovering the magic.

Whether it be the Tibetan monks chanting or simply a soul warming curry in the food area, there is something surprising and tasty around every corner of this much loved festival.

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie says the festival, which is celebrating 25 years, has shared “unforgettable musical memories with literally hundreds of thousands of festival goers”.

He’s not wrong.

Our picks for Womad

From Manchester, Gerald Simpson originally made his name as the UK’s first acid house producer, thanks to seminal tracks Voodoo Ray and Pacific State. He went on to lay down the blueprint of jungle and drum and bass yet continues to push the boundaries in 2017. No shoes required for this set — but maybe bring some water, because Simpson will set the WOMAD dancefloor alight.


British ska legends The Specials will be skanking up the stage at next year’s WOMAD festival. The rocksteady and ska superstars of the 70s and 80s will bring all their danceable and groove laden hits including A Message to You Rudy, Ghost Town and Free Nelson Mandela. And for those unfamiliar with the Doc wearing legends, you’ll know more songs than you think with the band basically soundtracking a period of UK political history oh, and appearing in dozens of great films.


Labelled “the torchbearers of 21st Century psychedelic Turkish rock ’n’ roll” — what’s not to like about this band already? Since 1996, the group has drawn inspiration from Istanbul’s rich history and the music of the sixties, fusing it with Oriental Dub and an electric energy that will shake Botanic Park.


We have never, ever heard Celtic music described as being cool until we heard the trio of Tim Chaisson, Jake Charron and Koady Chaisson. Blending traditional folk with a bolt of youthful energy, The East Pointers will have everyone step dancing by the end of their performance which is not only technical and enjoyable but more importantly, authentic.


Direct from the streets of New Orleans, the raucous traditional marching band blend jazz with funk, R&B and hip-hop. Over 20 years of leading community parades, funeral processions, street parties and concerts, the band has endured great tragedies, including the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, however they bring all their soul, joy and hope to Adelaide in what will be one of the most enjoyable live shows at the 2017 event.


 Adelaide Cup

March 13 –

You don’t need to be at Melbourne’s famous Flemington or Sydney’s Randwick racecourses to enjoy a sensational day at the track. While the Victorian Spring Carnival traditionally garners the racing headlines in Australia, the UBET Adelaide Cup at Morphettville is growing in stature – and appeal – for punters of all ages and interests.

The event, which makes for a public holiday in SA, will this year be held in the middle of Adelaide’s Mad March, and is so much more than horse racing: it’s a fun day out with plenty of hot spots to entice even the most casual racegoer.

These include the trendy pop-up space called The Starting Gate, which annually attracts thousands of fashionistas and socialites and will showcase multiple food, bar and designated picnic areas from leading SA eateries, wineries and bars. This year there’s even a ferris wheel, according to Thoroughbred Racing SA marketing brand manager Luke Schapel.

“After two sellout years, the Starting Gate will increase its capacity to 8000 due to popular demand,” he says.

“We’ve been working really hard to create a premium experience across all race meets at Morphettville. We want to attract people back to our major metropolitan track and then overwhelm them by offering an experience like no other available in Australia.

“The thoroughbred racing experience is unique and we want to celebrate what makes it such an occasion: it’s about indulgence, sophistication and carries an allure.”

The Starting Gate will also feature a special invite-only Moët & Chandon VIP area on the rails, which will host about 200 of the style set.

Another popular area for racegoers is sure to be the two-storey Yellowglen Terrace, situated within the Starting Gate precinct, featuring an elevated viewing platform and a themed sparkling bar – co-styled by New York-based jewellery designer Samantha Wills and French paper artist Marine Coutroutsios – complete with garden seating. The Yellowglen Terrace boasts uninterrupted views down to the all-important winning post.

Adelaide Cup Day will also be the scene of the Victoria Racing Club’s Myer Fashions on the Field State Final, which will pit the nation’s best dressed racegoers head-to-head, with thousands of prizes and a spot in the prestigious national final up for grabs.

Last year, Myer ambassadors Kris Smith and Nikki Phillips were among the judges surveying the fashion scene; who knows which big names will be there on March 13?

The style-orientated can also enjoy a relaxing day in Morphettville’s Fashion Pavillion, which this year will be hosted by Westfield Marion and include several fashion parades among other entertainment.

And when the races have been run and won, the crowd can kick into the sunset with The Maverick Experience fresh off his tour of Australia supporting the legendary Carl Cox.

“This year the Adelaide Cup will offer up the biggest track side party Morphettville has ever seen,” Mr Schapel says.