Live At Zédel, Soho’s unique live entertainment concept at Crazy Coqs, announces its new 2018 winter/spring season produced in partnership with Fane Productions.
It’s all elegantly if slightly laboriously done in studied anachronistic style, delivered facing out to the audience as if emphasising precisely its decorative home.
A Woman of No Importance is the most Shavian of Wilde’s plays – in fact with a slight reshuffling of the cast the same company could present Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession also produced in 1893 and wherein the same issue of parentage is concealed.
At its heart is Eve Best: mournful and troubled in black velvet, hair tumbling, a humble church-mouse amid the quipping brittle socialites. Her wronged Mrs Arbuthnot is the emotional and moral core of the play.
You go away for a week, hoping they’ll put any exciting news on hold but no, there were headlines aplenty…
Michelle Terry being revealed as Emma Rice’s successor as Artistic Director of the Globe. I think this is a brave and inspired choice, for Terry is a deeply intelligent actor.
Last Tango in Halifax star Anne Reid will play Lady Hunstanton, alongside Eve Best as Mrs Arbuthnot, in A Woman of No Importance at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre from 6 October to 30 December 2017.
I have recently had the pleasure of watching Harry on stage alongside Anne Reid and James Bolam in a new play called Fracked! Or please Don’t Use The F-Word. I was delighted to chat with Harry about his character in the production.
Fracked or Please Don’t Use The F-Word is written by Alistair Beaton and couldn’t be a more current piece in the current political climate. The fact that it has two more mature characters at the helm in strong roles is especially notable.
Anne Reid and James Bolam star Alistair Beaton’s environmental black comedy FRACKED! OR: PLEASE DON’T USE THE F-WORD on tour.
Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid and Michael Ball and Alfie Boe could form a weirdly intriguing supergroup, it’s actually two separate CDs that they’ve released in pairs.
Fracking is something of a contentious subject in West Sussex, so where better to stage Alistair Beaton’s new comedy Fracked! (or: Please don’t use the word). Littered with references to very recent events (including Boris Johnson and Southern trains) you can’t help but feel the playwright is hidden in the theatre somewhere
Sunday 15 May 2016 saw the Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Awards 2016 take place at London’s Novello Theatre, with Guildford School of Acting’s Courtney Bowman (pictured centre) crowned the winner. Catherine Francoise was at the event for www.jonathanbaz.com and reports.
Wrapping up a UK tour, this week sees Anne Reid take up a residency at the Crazy Coqs. Not just as one of the nation’s most beloved actresses, Reid’s cabaret reputation precedes her and her set that lasts the best part of two hours is a delight.
Christmas came early to the West End on Sunday night, for just like Max Bialystock, Mel Brooks’ legendary king of Broadway, Alex Parker has done it again with his own Kings Of Broadway. Though where Bialystock famously flopped, yet again this remarkable conductor cum impresario succeeded spectacularly in mounting a one-night only extravaganza of the work of Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman. Either Parker has amassed a multitude of favours to call in, or, and this is far more likely, he has simply earned the respect of an army of talented professionals including a 30-piece(!) orchestra and a cast of stellar proportions, to put on a concert that proved to be as polished as it was entertaining.
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 London Festival of Cabaret opens this week and runs for a fortnight across the city. Featuring a line-up from both sides of the Atlantic you can expect legendary names getting up close to a microphone, singing songs that they love (and may also have composed) and reaching out beyond the spotlight to share stories with an audience.
Unlike a staged musical the atmosphere couldn’t be more relaxed – and over a cocktail or glass of wine, maybe with a bite to eat too, listening to an inspirational performer either singing beautifully or sharing a sparkling anecdote makes for a charming evening.
As the final preparations were being drawn up for Tuesday’s opening night, I caught up with Festival Patron and Oscar-winning lyricist Don Black to talk about his love for the art-form.
JB: Don, what drew you to supporting the Festival?
DB: I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, loved cabaret. When I was managing Matt Monroe, all those years ago, I used to go to those northern clubs and cabaret clubs which were rife in the ’60’s. Places like Talk of the Town, I used to love the atmosphere.
When I started going to America a lot, I used go to all the cabaret places in New York. Lots of things drew me to these places.
You would get singers there who sang the different songs, special material, witty songs. Songs you hear very often. No one in cabaret sings My Way or those out and out popular songs. You get some very, very interesting and intriguing artists.
In New York I used to go and see a guy named Oscar Brown Jr., wherever he appeared. In fact I was discussing him only the other day with Van Morrison, who is a huge fan of his, so is Paul Jones, and many people.
I used to go and see Matt Dennis who wrote great songs like Angel Eyes and Let’s Get Away From It All.
I just like that closeness, the intimacy of the cabaret room. I’m delighted that so much is going on in London, in cabaret. I go to the Crazy Coqs quite often along with the St. James and I go to The Pheasantry too. The other night at The Pheasantry I saw Charles Strouse, the man who wrote Annie and Bye Bye Birdie. Now, you tell me where you can go see a guy, nearly 87 years old, talking for 2 hours and sharing anecdotes about Jule Styne and Hal Prince singing his songs?
Also, I really like the idea of them not being great singers! I like watching the song writers, like Strouse, who’s not a great piano player, not a great singer. You get so much heart and so much emotion in those couple of hours. It’s a different kind of evening. Cabaret really is a great love of mine.
I recently saw Anne Reid at the Crazy Coqs. Now Anne is a great example of someone and she won’t mind me saying this, who really is not a great singer. But she’s a great actress, and therefore a great story-teller.
JB: What are your thoughts on the younger cabaret artistes, as compared to those who do cabaret on the back of longer established careers?
DB: What you get from young artists, that you may not get from the older people, is new material. You do get the younger people, they’ll find a song from a failed musical. You think, “Oh isn’t that beautiful.” They can be full of surprises.
But of course the more seasoned a performer is, the more they’ve got more to draw on and of course you can feel for them too. You are close up. So when you see a person in their 60’s and 70’s singing a song about years gone by or missed opportunities, you cannot help but be moved. It is very touching when you see Anne Reid, who’s I don’t know nearly 80 now, singing a Barbara Cook song. You get the goosebumps. And as I said about Charles Strouse, when he went into The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, I mean, god almighty it was phenomenal!
I saw Mitch Winehouse at the Hippodrome a few weeks ago, Amy’s dad. He really put through with about a 12 piece orchestra, and he was terrific. So interesting and of course lots of anecdotes about Amy. It was very personal and also very touching.
JB: So – is it about the songs or the story-telling?
DB: Being a lyric writer I’ve always gone for the story teller. It’s interesting because Tony Bennett’s favourite singer and he’s often said this and it says a lot, is Louis Armstrong. Sinatra’s favourite singer was Fred Astaire. These people aren’t known for singing but they are known for storytelling. You hang on every word when these people sing. That’s what I like about cabaret, you don’t have to be the greatest singer, but you just have to get your story across. That’s why with people like Lorna Luft, you hang on every comma.
JB: Don, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and enjoy the Festival!
Aside from cabaret, Don also spoke at length about his song-writing career and part 2 of this fascinating conversation will be published shortly.
The London Festival Of Cabaret – Celebrating Song opens on 28th April and continues at venues across the capital until 11th May. Confirmed artists appearing include Kerry Ellis, Barb Jungr, Janie Dee and Scott Alan (amongst many others) and you can also watch some of today’s younger stars such as Jamie Parker and Caroline Sheen branching out onto the capital’s cabaret circuit.
Anne Reid’s father was a foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, reporting from India, Iran and Lebanon. She says she likes journalists, as long as they don’t write anything nasty about her. Spending an evening in her company at Crazy Coqs it would be impossible to harbour nasty thoughts about Reid – she is likeable to the […]
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