By Luke Voogt
Melbourne’s ‘Queen of Cabaret’ Dolly Diamond will put on a “sparkling” extravaganza on Friday to launch a new live-streaming series at Geelong Arts Centre next month.
“I’m thrilled to be the one to start all of this off and I wouldn’t want it any other way!” Dolly told the Independent.
“I think it’s a marvellous idea and a great way for us to still be able to perform. It’s wonderful to get back onstage!”
Dolly comes to Geelong Arts Centre armed with “devilish wit” and “a voice like honey over gravel” to sing classic hits and share her “life stories”.
After starring in countless cabaret festivals across Australia, Dolly admitted performing onstage for just a camera would be “very odd”.
“I’m going to pretend that there is a big audience there, I just won’t wait for their reaction,” she said.
“I absolutely love audience interaction and I’m definitely known for it – especially dealing with what they fire back at me.
“I think I interact with the voices in my head now – there’s quite a party going on in there.”
But Dolly is no stranger to the camera either as a regular guest on ABC News Breakfast, an ambassador for charities such as Movember and an MC at various LGBTIQA+ events.
She also began shooting Youtube series Kerrie and Dolly’s House Party last Thursday, a brief respite from being cooped up with her alter-ego Michael Dalton amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been a challenge – I couldn’t do it every year,” she said.
A UK expat, Dolly sprang from the mind of Dalton more than a decade ago when he was working as a back-up singer for British personality Julian Clary.
He migrated to Australia in 2009, bringing his sequinned, flamboyant and razor-sharp alter-ego with him.
“Dolly’s a formidable, confident, fun-loving and entertaining woman,” he said.
“I don’t see her as a drag act. Dolly is Dolly, same way as Dame Edna is Dame Edna.”
Dalton celebrated his 50th birthday “on the outside” just before the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia.
Like millions of performers worldwide, he felt imprisoned by the pandemic.
“But you realise this is the way it is now and you’ve got to cope,” he said.
“I’ve called up family members in the UK I’d forgotten I even had.”
He felt especially sorry for anyone who celebrated their birthday in isolation at home, he said.
“My aim is to take everyone’s minds off what they’re going through.”
Dolly Diamond’s Big Night kicks off the Where Creativity Hits At Home series, featuring a line-up of Geelong and Australian stars streaming live from the local stage.
Joining Dolly for the series are leading Australian theatre men Bert LaBonte and Rob Tripolino, and home-grown star and The X Factor finalist Taylor Henderson.
Later in May Jessie Lloyd will share music from her Mission Songs Project while former Wicked star Amanda Harrison will sing theatre classics, with perhaps a surprise call-in from Dolly, Dalton hinted.
“I love those women, they’re incredible,” he said.
While the live-streamed shows are free, Geelong Arts Centre is calling for donations to help keep local performers onstage.
More information: geelongartscentre.org.au.