St James Studio, London
In a new and novel cabaret set, Colin Savage attempts to teach Michael Webborn, through quick witted comedy and song, the way to get a girl. We discover that pianist Webborn has struggled throughout his life to hold down a relationship with a woman. To counter this romantic ineptitude, Savage (in his own opinion a noted success with the fairer sex) attempts a masterclass – and as the evening pans out we watch Webborn reveal his failures in love, as Savage tries to pass on his wisdom and show him everything he’s been doing wrong.
It turns out that the duo are quite simply hilarious! They have a genuine banter and chemistry between them, together with a set list that ranges from contemporary ballads through to older musical theatre gems, some of which have been re-written for the occasion. There’s even the odd pop song in there too.
Opening with Let Me Be Your Star, the number proves as big a smash as its show’s namesake and aside from being a fantastic pianist and composer, Webborn proves to be a stunning singer! The 29 year old has a voice way beyond his years with wonderful control and precise technical strength. The same can be said for ladies’ man Savage, a fantastic tenor whose high notes seem to just go up and up, with a very pleasing contemporary tone.
As the night progresses, we learn more and more about Webborn’s disastrous romantic past, a particularly tender subject being his most recent quest, a Brazilian nun who he’d spent a week wooing on a nudist beach!
The pair deliver a number of hilarious and impressive duets including an edited version of We Can Do It from The Producers and from City Of Angels, I’m Nothing Without You. Their wit and timing are spot on, creating an almost Book of Mormon-esque vibe, with Savage as the suave, confident front man and his partner proving to be the loveable yet bumbling sidekick!
The biggest accolade of the night has to go to Webborn. From the outset he allows himself to be the object of ridicule, with personality, looks and even his beloved (and, to be fair, acclaimed) new musical The Clockmaker’s Daughter being mocked, almost bringing him to breaking point. However when he launches himself into I’d Rather Be Sailing from William Finn’s A New Brain, Webborn surprises and impresses with a vocal performance full of strong high notes and a beautiful falsetto, bringing the entire St James’ audience to an acute silence.
An occasional fumble in the script is nothing that can’t be ironed out in a gig that sparkled with verve, wit and some truly enchanting singing. A one-off performance on this occasion – we can only hope the pair bring this show back soon. It’s great cabaret!
Guest reviewer: Charlotte Darcy