By Luke Voogt
After a decade writing and performing cabaret across Australia and the world, Anya Anastasia is on the brink of superstardom or a mental breakdown – or both.
“I’ll let the chickens out, they’re so noisy,” she told the Independent from her godmother’s farm in Adelaide Hills, as rooster crowed in the background.
“He’s trying to steal the limelight.”
Anastasia has spent a good chunk of COVID-19 weeding and revegetating her godmother’s farm, along with feeding its resident animals.
“It’s quite a rundown old piece of land that needed people with time on their hands to do it up a bit,” she said.
“When things don’t turn out to plan, you’ve got to be a bit open-minded.”
But next Friday the Adelaide songstress will kick off the gumboots and chuck on her stockings for her latest show Cabaret Star for Hire at the Potato Shed beginning 8pm.
Anastasia wrote the show in 2019 about, ironically, her disillusion with cabaret after a decade touring and performing at festivals around the world.
Her fascination with cabaret began at age 18, but over the years the profession took its toll.
“The financial rewards were enough to keep it going, provided I never stopped,” she said.
“There was no time to give back to myself – it was always onto the next tour and on to the next tour and so on.
“I wrote this show as a rebellion against show biz.
“Instead of saying, ‘this is sold out’ or ‘I’m really loving every second of this’, I wanted to actually talk about the truth and why I failed and why ‘this isn’t working out for me’.
“The show is me thinking, ‘I’ve quit cabaret, what should I do next?’
“It’s difficult trying to think of me doing anything else.
“I can play piano backwards behind my head while I sing and I have an excellent vocal range.
“I spent years on that acrobatic piano skill but it’s really not applicable outside theatre.
“While my CV is impressive in the context of show biz, I don’t have much experience in anything else.”
The show won best comedy cabaret at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe.
But then, when COVID-19 hit, Anastasia actually did quit performing, for a time.
“I quit first,” she laughed.
“By current definitions I’m the least essential worker. There was not really any performance work to speak of, but I recorded a few tracks.”
After returning recently to the stage she is on her way to Drysdale to share her musings in her latest musical comedy extravaganza Cabaret Star for Hire.
In the show Anastasia regales her audience with relatable and honest tales from her life as a recently-retired showgirl who discovers a new purpose: to become a secret agent spy uncovering a worldwide plot.
Anastasia looked forward to exploring the ambitions, failures and the struggles of a female professional artist in the show at the Potato Shed.
“I’m not there to sell my godmother’s produce or anything, I’m actually going to do a great show,” she said.
“I’m really excited; it’s such a beautiful space and it’s always such a great crowd – I find the audience is really engaged there.”
“And I love their gorgeous curtains, I’m really obsessed with them – scalloped art deco-looking things – I don’t know where they got them.”