Bradley McCaw – Cabaret star on the rise

We chat to the winner of last year’s Annual Cabaret Showcase ahead of the national tour and prestigious New York performances of his new show Cabaret: The Complete Unauthorised Biography

Bradley McCaw. Photo by Kurt Sneddon
Bradley McCaw. Photo by Kurt Sneddon

Bradley McCaw says he practically stumbled onto the cabaret stage.

“My career has been very much me just falling into things,” he says.

“I started out as an RnB and Hip Hop enthusiast in high school, as we all were, in the 90s. Then I went to a singing teacher. He said to me, ‘You’re white, you’re skinny and you can’t sing black.’ So he gave me some Jesus Christ Superstar and I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool. That Gethsemane is onto something!’”

After a long journey through performing, composing and writing, which saw Bradley perform as part of The Ten Tenors, write an original musical Becoming Bill and win the Queensland Theatre Company’s Young Emerging Playwrights Award, McCaw entered the 2012 Australian Cabaret Showcase.

Before the Showcase, McCaw’s had next to no experience with cabaret. He’d had plenty of experience with musical theatre, but unlike many musical theatre performers, he hadn’t yet had the intimate cabaret experience.

“To make cabaret work, you need a strong, honest presence,” McCaw says. “In all the research and the development I’ve done for this show, it feels like that connection with the audience needs to be the paramount thing. In cabaret, because the audience is so close, they can smell it when you’re not being real.”

McCaw is about to take Cabaret: The Complete Unauthorised Biography around the country and then to one of the world’s biggest cabaret cities and home of musical theatre, New York. The show traces cabaret from its origins in France in the late 1800s through to the art form it has become today and is inspired largely by McCaw’s own research as a newbie to the cabaret world. Featuring some of his own original songs as well as classics from the world of cabaret including some Marlene Dietrich, some Peter Allen and even some Debussy, the show is an eclectic ode to a unique art form.

In less than a year, McCaw has completely fallen in love with the challenges and rewards of working in cabaret and has found that the Showcase has opened doors that were previously closed.

“It’s definitely put me in a new sphere,” he says, “Jeremy Youett from the New York Music Theatre Festival who is producing the show in Australia and in New York. Having that contact and that expertise to bounce ideas off is wonderful.”

“Being a composer and a playwright you have works in the bank that often just sits there and without credits and recognition like this, often people don’t take much notice,” he says.

As one of relatively few Australian cabaret artists to perform their own show in New York, McCaw’s work is sure to get even more notice. When asked how he thinks playing New York will feel, McCaw is at a loss for words. “I’m a bit speechless, I guess. I’m more of a one-day-at-a-time type guy, so I’ll probably just get the job done and afterwards have a quiet beer and go, ‘Holy crap! I just played New York. Did that just happen?’”

Cabaret: The Complete Unauthorised Biography plays Adelaide Cabaret Festival June 8 & 9 before visiting Noosa, Melbourne, New York Musical Theatre Festival, Ballarat and Brisbane.

More information and tickets are available at

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