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!