Trevor Ashley has always loved cabaret, and has long dreamed of running a festival. In just over a week he will do just that when the curtain rises on the inaugural Sydney Cabaret Festival, with Ashley at the helm as Artistic Director.

“Basically, I’ve been wanting to do something of this ilk in Sydney for ages and it was sort of serendipity in a way,” he says when asked how it came about. “I bumped into [business man, theatre lover and regular arts patron] Stephen Fitzgerald in a theatre foyer after a show and he said, ‘have you ever thought about a cabaret festival for Sydney?’ and I said ‘Yes! Of course I have!’” recalls Ashley.

Trevor Ashley in cabaret mode. All photographs supplied

“He said ‘look, I really want to get behind starting one’ and so we got together and he made an enormous donation of a quarter of a million dollars to get it started and I sort of took it from there and ran, and basically put the whole concept and the way that it worked together. It was great because Stephen really loves cabaret most out of everything. He’s...