ANNE REID & STEFAN BEDNARCZYK IN CABARET – The Pheasantry

In Cabaret, London theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

★★
The Pheasantry, London – until 31 July 2015
Currently in cabaret at London’s The Pheasantry, Anne Reid and Stefan Bednarczyk offer a songlist devoted to the Broadway/Hollywood writing partnership of Betty Comden and Adolf Green.

Most famous perhaps for the story and screenplay of Singin’ In The Rain (though incredibly their only contribution to that movie’s musical numbers was Moses Supposes), the Comden & Green partnership was to last the best part of 60 years, going on to include On The Town and Wonderful Town amongst a string of successes.

Reid and Bednarczyk are as enlightening as they are enchanting with a shared respect for Comden & Green that is infectiously appealing. Together, these talented performers bring a masterful combination of humour and pathos to a selection of numbers that reflect some of the best of the American Songbook.

The set includes not only classics such as I’m So Lucky To Be Me and Just In Time, but also the less well known works such as Talking To Yourself from The Hallelujah Chorus, Reid imbuing the song with a blend of power, hope and inspiration. Bednarczyk’s piano work was divine – but his vocals were magnificent too. A touching take on The Story Of My Life, suggested as possibly being an autobiographical reflection from Green looking back on an impoverished and abused childhood was heart-rending, whilst the satirical Capital Gains proved as topical today as when written some 50 years ago.

Don Black has spoken (here) of Reid’s remarkable cabaret persona. As a raconteur she’s amongst our finest and when she talks of having stage managed Margaret Lockwood, or her excitement at having met both meeting Comden & Green along with the occasional reference to Derek Jacobi, one could listen to her Geordie cum Weatherfield brogue all night.

As Reid recounted how she first met Benarczyk in the south of France, I was reminded of her Mme Armfeldt’s reminiscent Liaisons in a recent A Little Night Music, whilst a further wistful observation, as to how beautiful it must be to both sing and fly (a reference to a Peter Pan production she was following whilst on a UK touring circuit) made me speculate what a fantastic Berthe she might make should Broadway’s recent Pippin ever cross the pond!

Reid and Bednarczyk encored with a number probably made most famous by Jimmy Durante, Make Someone Happy, a deliriously poignant yet also profoundly uplifting melody. The moment, along with the evening was perfect – for in a packed Chelsea basement these two diamonds of the cabaret scene had, in fact, made everyone happy.

In residence until Friday 31st July

Jonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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Jonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.