Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London – until 1 March 2020
Martin Kaye enthrals his audience at Upstairs at the Gatehouse as he spins the tale of Elton John’s ascendance into global super stardom, complete with pitfalls along the way. Kaye’s enthusiasm for Elton is infectious, weaving in his own autobiographical detail into his recantation of the singer’s journey from the lonely Reginald Dwight in grey flannel trousers through to the sensational Elton John in spangled hot pants.
The show is centred around a night in Las Vegas where Kaye, during his time performing in Million Dollar Quartet, bumps into his ultimate hero Elton John in a hotel lobby where the two then spent an eventful, confessional, evening together. The evening’s narrative however seems minimal, especially when contrasted with Kaye’s excellent singing talent and with the Rocketman movie having only recently graced our screens, there is not much here that we do not already know. But the songs are great and undoubtedly the best part of the performance is a finale that sees Kaye getting the whole audience to sing along with ‘Crocodile Rock’.
Steph Pyne’s set is striking, with huge illuminated lettering and the piano being put front and centre (literally with some incredibly inventive live projection of Kaye’s finger work), giving the feel of being front row at an actual Elton John concert. The lighting is effective, helping to create atmosphere and tone, as the sparse set and limited props allow Kaye’s showmanship, with his odd socks and wild piano playing, to be the main focus of the event. Clever and entertaining, the show is a musically brilliant tribute to one of our greatest showmen.