Garnham, Guests and Gibbons. Yes, Gibbons.

What can I say? What a brilliant night. Held at The Pheasantry – a Pizza Express along Kings Road, London – I was not sure how it would support a cabaret. But it was a great venue, with a downstairs area set out with tables all around the stage so that all guests could watch, eat, drink and generally have a thoroughly relaxed evening.

 

Having seen Scott Garnham performing in Les Miserables, both as Feuilly and as Enjolras, I knew that the guy had talent. I had also watched some video from a previous cabaret of his which gave me some idea of what to expect. I didn’t howevr expect Garnham to be such an all round performer. He was funny, potentially controversial, sang a variety of songs (and might I add these were mostly away from musical theatre) and had a superb voice.

 

Kicking off with a croony number ‘Moving Too Fast’, Garnham proceeded to reminisce between songs taking us back to his teenage years, first loves and many other ‘experiences’ that youngsters go through. Next ‘appropriate’ song was If Only I had A Brain from the Wizard of Oz and this was followed by the hilarious ‘Talk To Me’, a song about being caught in a compromising situation. The next few songs followed the pattern of a journey through the teenage years (including  – ‘Blame It On My Youth’, ‘She’ and ‘Too Excess’. Each introduction contained witty anecdotes or banter with one of his guests, the first being Kieran Brown, a strong singer with real talent.

Craig Mather, a fellow cast member from Les Mis (played Marius) joined Garnham on stage for an updated version of ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’. Cleverly altered words instantly changed the song into a song about the two of them and the banter between them was extremely amusing – you could tell the two of them were good friends. A video of this can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiDaA-sQNjM

 

‘Out There’, a Disney song followed, which was beautifully sung by Garnham alone and then Killian Donnelly joined him on stage for the absolutely fantastic Take That medley. This was an absolute highlight and the two of them are just hysterical together. Take That like you have never experienced before – oh and Killian choking on his drink just made it extra funny! If you haven’t seen the video for this then you can find it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkpQpeno2eI  Thanks to Shannon Young for this – mine cut out mid routine though you can find most of it (including the beginning and end) on my account.

 

The first act was finished with ‘It’s My Life’, originally a Bon Jovi rock tune, but not at this cabaret. Oh no. It was turned into a musical medley by the pianist (Niall Bailey) as he played his way through an array of famous songs from the shows and Garnham fitted the words around the music. Very clever and if anyone has tried to sing the words of one song to the tune of another, it is really hard to do!

 

Act two started as Act One finished – Garnham introducing some more brilliant songs kicking off with ‘We Belong To The Stars’, and I was definitely impressed with his choices. They showed off his vocal range well and gave an insight into the real Scott. ‘Talking Myself Into Linda’ was next, followed by another song also better known for being more of a rock song – ‘Open Arms’ was sung as a duet with Simon Bailey. It was sung in a more theatrical style and was truly lovely, their voices very complimentary to each other. This was followed by ‘Last One Picked’, pretty obvious what this one was about from the title!

 

Moving on from his previous theme, Garnham moved onto the potentially highly controversial subject of religion. Stemming largely from the West End arrival of ‘The Book of Mormon’ the next few songs were somewhat tongue in cheek about a few religions including Muslims and Catholics. It was clear from his speeches that Garnham was in no way anti any of them – he was not being negative, purely using them as a subject and I found the songs very funny. Sabrina Aloueche sang Baptise Me with him and managed to turn it into a rather sexual sounding state of affairs – brilliant. As I have said once before, Aloueche has a really strong voice and never fails to impress.

 

‘Let’s Be Frank About the Muslims’ followed, then Catholicism was targeted with ‘Epiphany’. Maybe you had to be there but both were great. ‘Music of Heaven’ was next and then a slight change to the theme with Garnham’s self-penned ‘Self Indulgent Ballad’. Although this is not about religion, it is rather taking the mickey out of the egotism that can sometimes be found within theatre. This song is genius, I had heard it before but it gets better every time I hear it. It’s so witty and observant and highlights all the stereotypes you can think of.

 

Garnham told us that he knew the score – that at concerts the performers leave, and the audience, begging for an encore chant ‘We Want More’ until the artist reappears to sing something else. He asked us to do this (all absolutely tongue in cheek as there was nothing big headed about him and no assumptions made) but he needn’t have bothered. The packed house couldn’t wait to get him back out to sing something further for us all so amidst, cheering, whoops, and ‘We Want Mores’ he came out hi-fiving and shaking hands with everyone, another nod towards the informal evening we had all shared.

 

The show ended with ‘Good Thing Going’ and a humble looking Garnham who thanked his guests profusely. He  kept up the momentum throughout. He looked so comfortable – I have seen some who are not as happy when they are being themselves as they are when they are playing a role – but Garnham was not one of them. He was a natural comedian, crooner and performer. Special mentions must go the three GSA students – Ben Sell, Christina Bennington and Steffan Harri – who will be names to watch out for in the future without doubt, and another shout out to Niall Bailey, his piano backing was faultless and I believe he sorted out all the song arrangements.

 

Everyone left on a high, it was a top class evening, the sort I love the best with shed loads of laughter, wonderful voices and fantastic entertainment from all involved. I truly hope that these cabarets will be a regular thing as everyone should try to attend one. What fun. It was also lovely to speak to all the performers afterwards and I’d like to say a huge thank you to you all for your time.

 

Congratulations Mr Garnham, I think you may be onto something with these!

 

Keep Dreaming,
Naomi xx

Billy Elliot

So another trip to London beckoned, this time to see a cabaret on Sunday organised by Scott Garnham, and, as I was coming up anyway, a trip to see Billy Elliot. 

I have so many shows that I want to see but I was keen to see Killian Donnelly in the role of Tony so Billy was booked. I knew bits about it and had heard quite a few songs along the way, but I was genuinely not expecting it to be quite so epic.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised as all professional productions are excellent in terms of quality/effects/orchestra/set but I just dont think I expected it to be so entertaining. I knew it was about miners and a boy who wants to dance, but in truth it is so much more than that.

Every time the miners sang it was extremely tuneful, I loved all of their pieces and its always a pleasure to see plenty of men in the theatre. I know from amateur productions that finding enough (or indeed, any) men is a real task sadly.

The children were all immaculate too. Each one word, note and step perfect. And remarkably impressive with their comedy delivery and timing (particularly Debbie played by Millie Thornton). There was a lot of choreography across the whole cast but everyone appeared to know exactly what they should be doing.

Deka Walmsley played a very convincing Northern dad, who was (in the words of several cast members) ” a bastard” yet you could warm to him by the end of the show despite all his faults. I thought he was great. Mrs Wilkinson,  played by Gillian Bevan was another character who you grew to be fond of and she did a valiant performance as the ballet mistress.

Steph Parry played Billy’s dead mam and she was a lovely character, both times the songs (which were meant to be letters being read aloud) between her and Billy  reducing me to tears. Comedy relief therefore (although actually the show is remarkably funny) was provided by Mr Braithwaite (David Muscat) as the accompanist for the ballet students and wannabe dancer. Very amusing.

Killian Donnelly as Tony Elliot,  Billy’s brother was as strong and every bit as convincing as I had hoped. He stands up and fights for what he believes in and is very passionate. Though as an elf it is a little hard to take him seriously! Grandma (Gillian Elisa) is another fabulous character and she’s a feisty one too! She was hysterical,  I loved her!

Final mentions must go to Joe Massey as Michael and of course Harris Beattie as Billy. Massey was so lovable and so funny and gave such a confident performance as the slightly confused and comical best friend. And Beattie was outstanding. Everything about his performance was superb. His vocals were strong, his accent, his lines were delivered clearly and with the emotion they required and his dancing was exemplary.  Look out for this lad, he will go far.

I laughed, I cried, I wanted to get up and join in. That has to be the sign of a great show, right? It was topped off nicely by meeting some of the cast afterwards as well, so thank you to those actors who stopped to chat and sign programmes. 

If you’re debating whether or not to go, then don’t think about it anymore,  just book. But be aware there is an imminent cast change so if you want to see some of those mentioned above you will need to go in the next couple of weeks.

Hope you enjoyed, got another one from tonights cabaret on the way later!

Keep Dreaming,
Naomi xx

Reviewing (the situation!)

Hi everyone,

This month is going to be a busy one – just this week I am reviewing two shows and watching another two and then next weekend I am off to a cabaret as well. I will of course be blogging about them all but I wanted to share some links with you of my three (to date) professional reviews (as opposed to blogs).

First was Soul Sister, the story of Tina Turner. The review in it’s original form can be found here: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/soul-sister-wyvern-theatre-swindon/

Next was The 39 Steps a thoroughly amusing play with a cast of just four people. I recommend this to anyone who is not sure what to see and who wants to be entertained. The original review can be found here: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-39-steps-wyvern-theatre-swindon/

Most recently I reviewed Go Back for Murder, a classic Agatha Christie play, staged by the Official Agatha Christie Theatre Company. The review as I originally wrote it is here: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/go-back-for-murder-wyvern-theatre-swindon/

I am really enjoying my reviewing and I hope you will all take something from my reviews as well, whether that is to confirm your thoughts about a production or to encourage/discourage you from seeing something. Reviewing is something I intend to continue with and I have several more productions already pencilled in to see. As above, these reviews are slightly different to my usual blog as I tend expand a little more in my blogs and of course they are more informal. I’d be interested to hear people’s opinions though as to what they think about my reviews compared to my blogs. The above reviews were all at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon, a lovely little venue worth a visit, with a good view from all seats.

Coming up this month then, I have Boogie Nights, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Billy Elliott (just a blog, not officially reviewing this), Scott Garnham’s London cabaret (again, a blog not official review) and another gig from John Partridge (Eastenders’ Christian – blog). I am really looking forward to this month of shows, I love the escape from reality and the enjoyment of live action. And as much as I love musicals it is really good to see some plays as well, even if I do expect the characters to burst into song at regular intervals – I am still rather surprised when they don’t!

So please watch this space, lots of new posts on their way!

Keep dreaming,
Naomi xx

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