It’s not often you feel compelled to offer a city street an apology – but I do. A busy thoroughfare at the best of times, Chapel Street remains an abundance of exasperation and distraction irrespective of mode and so, I concede; interviewing a Melbourne entertainment icon in a highly visible location along this famous strip did no favour for the pace of public holiday traffic.
Radiating mere metres from Chapel off Chapel, Miss Dolly Diamond graciously acknowledged the attention from passers-by as a micro consequence of her commitment to the promotion of Melbourne’s forthcoming Cabaret Festival.
“I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed putting it all together” Dolly delights as she accurately predicts my first question about why she has chosen to return to the festival as Artistic Director for a second year. “It’s a real mixed bag of shows” she continues “and never knowing what an audience will want to go to, offering them a smorgasbord of Cabaret is always a good idea. There’s so much Cabaret talent in Melbourne to draw on and we’ve done that yet again”
With the festival’s Opening Gala on the 19th of June fast approaching, Dolly discussed her week ahead. “I love being busy. If I’m not busy then I’m not really very happy. The Opening Gala is probably one of the best nights for me because I get to show off everybody that’s in the festival; as well as show off a little myself.”
Now in its ninth year, the 2018 Melbourne Cabaret Festival offers an astonishingly varied program and an incredible opportunity to see works from established and emerging artists. With 20 brand new cabaret shows making up this year’s festival, surely Dolly has a favourite? “Why is it that everybody wants to know your one favourite show? Impossible. It would be like choosing your favourite child and even though I was that favourite child – I won’t do it”
Respectful restraint aside, like any proud parent, Dolly’s regard for all of her festival children was evident, particularly when asked about the benefits of participation. “It’s a great way of showcasing what you do in the bosom of a festival. As we know, when you go out on your own it’s often sink or swim. It’s always better when someone else can spruik your wares rather than you doing it all yourself – that’s the beauty of it. And it looks good on the resume.”
Originally from the UK and calling Australia home since 2009, Dolly Diamond is a seasoned cabaret performer and no stranger to local audiences in both intimate settings and at major events. Reflecting fondly on the venue where she first appeared on our shores, Dolly continues to recognise the ongoing relationship with all at festival hub Chapel off Chapel.
“The People that work there are there to support you. I began in Australia performing there 16 years ago and I always go back. The venue’s great with the two spaces right next door to each other and obviously, with the bar in the middle, it’s ideal for everybody”
With a flourish indicating her urgency to get back to work, my audience with the reigning Queen of Cabaret times out. Forever the consummate professional, Dolly’s parting shot is perfectly on message. ‘Well there’s no denying that 2017 was a fabulous year for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, so the pressures on to make this year’s festival even bigger. We’ve absolutely loved gathering such an eclectic line-up of performers for 2018, See you at The Chapel...’
And like a blast of statins for Chapel Street traffic, Dolly Diamond departs.
The 2018 Melbourne Cabaret Festival runs from Tuesday June 19 to Sunday July 1 at Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran. Visit: melbournecabaret.com
Top left – Dolly Diamond. Photo – Andrew Richey