Twilight At Taronga – Karen From Finance On The Circus Vibes Of This Year’s Drag Gala

The Twilight At Taronga Summer Concert Series returns for another year filled with back-to-back weekends of live music and performances.

Karen From Finance

As the sun sets over Sydney Harbour, and the bridge sits pretty in the distance, audiences will be entertained by some of Australia’s favourite artists, while Taronga’s animals settle in for the night.

Returning for their second year is the 'Drag Gala', holding you accountable this Mardi Gras with Karen From Finance, with a line-up worth cashing in your tax return for! But what got these queens into a thriving musical menagerie moment?

“Last year was our very first, and my Co-Producer and I were trying to come up with a venue that could host a party that was completely different – that hadn’t seen drag at this scale before,” Karen From Finance says. “We wanted to make a big splash for WorldPride. . . And we found it at Taronga! It was the biggest and best event we’ve ever been a part of, and we’re so excited to come back for the 2024 series.”

Rehearsals are currently underway, with call sheets and music submissions, resulting in a stampede of heels, high glam, and hilarity.

“We have a line-up of about 11 drag entertainers from around the country and New Zealand – and really curating a high energy, funny, camp gay show!”

The 'Drag Gala' is set to have appearances from fan favourites, Spankie Jackzon ('Drag Race Down Under' season two winner), Art Simone, Jojo Zaho, Maxi Shield, Beverly Kills, and more.

“By the end of the show last year, we had almost the entire audience standing up and dancing, while the performers did their acts – it has the real energy of a music festival.”

For those unfamiliar with Twilight At Taronga, it has been described as a live rock-n-roll performance, a stage concert with festival vibes. Audiences can enjoy each set on the grass, as the sun sets behind the stage, with Sydney Harbour framing the picturesque experience.

Reflecting on the scale, and celebration of the 'Drag Gala' at Taronga amidst Mardi Gras, Karen From Finance gives a few pennies for her thoughts.

“I think it goes to show how queer and drag performances have progressed over the years, but in the same way that audiences have progressed and accepted the performance style – being able to perform on stages like Twilight At Taronga, we haven’t seen Galas of this size before. So, it’s a real privilege to perform and produce something like this.”

“When I first started performing, I was really interested in the shock value of what drag performance could bring, and the subversiveness of the art form. I was trying to shock the audience, to advance their politics and their understanding of queer performance. Now, so much of what they hadn’t seen 12 years ago, they have, and they’ve come round to not only accepting but celebrating themselves.”

“That’s where performance for me is more about celebration now, as I have progressed as a performer, the audience has progressed with me. It feels more celebratory now, than it did 12, 15 years ago.”

All proceeds of Twilight At Taronga support their ongoing conservation work which includes the Litter Free Oceans Campaign to reduce single-use plastics. Whether you attend the 'Drag Gala', or any number of the other events, your tickets will be supporting a brighter future for everyone and every critter.

“The cast this year is such a diverse mix; we have showgirls, drag kings, funny queens, high energy dancing performers, it’s almost going to be like a circus – it’s going to be pretty incredible!”

Twilight At Taronga's 'Drag Gala' is on at Taronga Zoo (Sydney) 22 February.