Cheeky Cabaret: Q&A with Brett Haylock
Brett Haylock is the founder and Creative Producer of the award-winning circus/cabaret variety production LA SOIRÉE. First created in 2004 as a little late night cabaret called La Clique, the show has since evolved into an international sensation, smashing box office records across Europe, the US and Australia, and trailing a host of awards in its wake, including two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Entertainment for its London seasons in 2009 for La Clique and 2014 for LA SOIRÉE.
Brett is also the co-Director of the Brunswick Picture House, home of the Cheeky Cabaret, the smash hit production that will be dazzling audiences in the Star Court Theatre as a part of Artstate Lismore. We had a chat with Brett about how he ended up in Brunswick Heads, and what audiences can expect from Cheeky Cabaret this December at Artstate.
You’re co-Director of the Brunswick Picture House, home of Cheeky Cabaret. Can you tell me about yourself?
Originally born in a small beach town called Moonta in South Australia, I got my start running venues and box offices in Adelaide and eventually ran way with a beautiful old venue called the Famous Spiegeltent. The owner of the Spiegeltent and I then created a late night cabaret to take to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004, featuring acrobats, contortionists, hula hoopists, chanteuses, circus performers and everything in between. It was a smash hit and we haven’t looked back since. The show, called LA SOIRÉE, has now been touring internationally for fourteen years to sold out audiences. It still amazes me to this day the reaction we get – who would have thought that a little midnight cabaret which featured a woman pulling a red handkerchief out of various parts of her body would take the world by storm and even pick up a few awards in London and New York?! I’ve since created a new show called CLUB SWIZZLE which made its debut at the Sydney Opera House in 2015 and is about to hit the international touring circuit next year.
The historic Brunswick Picture House was lovingly revived back in 2016. How did you come to this amazing venue and why Brunswick Heads?
Back in 2015, our show LA SOIRÉE was performing in Brisbane and on our one night off, a group of cast and crew got into a rental car and drove here to visit some dear friends in Mullumbimby. My partner Chris and I had visited Brunswick Heads previously but on this visit, our friends casually mentioned that the old run-down little theatre in Bruns was put up for sale. We ended up going on a slightly drunken midnight stroll down to peer in the windows of this amazing cinema, whose doors had closed back in 1985, and fell deeply in love with it. Oh the possibilities! We weren’t in the market to buy an old theatre, but the ideas floating in my head as to what this space had to offer – in terms of re-opening its doors to provide entertainment, to serve as a home base for our shows, to use for rehearsals and create new work – the potential was there. And it happened to be nestled in a small little slice of paradise called Brunswick Heads.
How would you describe the Cheeky Cabaret experience for those who have never been?
The Cheeky Cabaret is a variety show made up of some the best circus and cabaret performers out there. It’s good fun, with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s joyous, it celebrates the weird and the wild, it’s hilarious and quite saucy. The Cheeky Cabaret is very much in the same irreverent spirit as LA SOIRÉE. It’s made for adult audiences, so bring Grandma and Grandpa but leave the kids at home!
One of the great things about Cheeky Cabaret is that it is never the same show twice. Can you give us some sneaky hints on what might be in store for Artstate Lismore audiences?
I’ve put together an eclectic and hugely entertaining motley crew of amazing performers from around Australia to take part in our first Cheeky Cabaret in Lismore. I’m happy to reveal that one of these performers is taking a weekend out of her busy touring schedule to return home to Lismore, where she grew up and where her family still lives, to perform for her hometown crowd! And who knows, that infamous disappearing red hanky might find itself re-appearing on that little red stage in Lismore…
Have you ever had a favourite Cheeky Cabaret act?
We have been very lucky to be able to bring world-class performers to the Brunswick Picture House, not only from across Australia but from around the world. I couldn’t possibly choose a favour Cheeky Cabaret act – that’s like asking to choose your favourite child!
What are you most looking forward to at ArtState Lismore?
I am thrilled to be able to present a show in the gorgeous Star Court Theatre and to Lismore audiences who have not had the opportunity to come to Brunswick Heads to see one of our cabarets. Also, it’s satisfying to see an event like Artstate taking place, which is long overdue, and where presenters and promoters from around the world get to see the abundance of talent and the rich, diverse programming coming out of the Northern Rivers – in which I hope the Brunswick Picture House has played a small part.
Catch Cheeky Cabaret at the Star Court Theatre Friday 1 and Saturday 2 December — book here.
Images: (Top) Brett Haylock, (Middle), Jess Love photo by Max Gordon, (Bottom) Heather Holliday photo by John W McCormick Photo.