Tag Archives: Cabaret

REVIEW: Christina Bianco Life of the Party – Wild Cabaret, Glasgow

Let’s state some facts first: Christina Bianco is phenomenally talented. There are few in this vocal impression game who can deliver such spot-on, pin-point accurate impersonations. There are also few shows where you can hear Streisand, Garland and Minelli, Britney, Christina, and Celine, Menzel, Chenoweth, Peters and Lupone.

What sets Life of the Party from Bianco’s previous efforts is the inclusion of another diva – Bianco herself, finally singing in her own power-house voice and sharing more of her back story and influences. Though, it is her sensitive rendition of the show-stopping Santa Fe from Newsies that really leaves an impression (forgive the pun).

There’s still the unlikely interpretations – Judy Garland does Ed Sheeran to name one, a diva demands quiz, pal Jai McDowall doing a guest turn with Evermore from the recent Disney live-action Beauty and the Beast and Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald makes some bizarre appearances re-interpreting some unlikely movies: Gladiator, Dirty Harry to name a few. Bianco also throws in some highlights from her Broadway and West End turn in the long-running Forbidden Broadway and a flashback to the past with an old Betty Hutton comedy number.

The show runs at over two hours not including the interval and there’s so much bang for your buck. There’s also the fact that there’s such a warmth to Bianco, that the audience feel fully embraced throughout. If she’s playing at a venue anywhere near you, do yourself a favour and see her – the true doyenne of vocal impersonations.

REVIEW: Keith Jack: Movie Nights – Wild Cabaret, Glasgow

Astonishingly, it’s a decade since Dalkeith native Keith Jack was runner up in the BBC’s search for a ‘Joseph’ in Any Dream Will Do. Only 19 years old at the time, much has happened in the ensuing years, with Jack eventually donning the technicolour coat on the tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Currently on tour to promote his third and latest album, Movie Nights, Jack returns to Glasgow with an up-close and personal show at Glasgow’s Wild Cabaret. Sitting at tables, under twinkling candlelight, it’s a hark back to the golden days of cabaret.

Eschewing any of the musical theatre tunes that have made him famous, the entire set comprises Jack’s personal movie favourites. There’s no doubt that Jack possesses a voice that would blow a set of barn doors off, but there’s a sense of holding back in this small venue. The sound levels are also a tad imbalanced, the three piece band (drums/keys/guitar) headed by MD Scott Morgan, often overpower Jack – and that’s no mean feat.

The songs in the two-hour set are treated to some new and unusual arrangements from Morgan, the most successful of which are the ballads, especially She’s Like the Wind from the much-loved Dirty Dancing, accompanied only by the piano, Jack’s voice gets to shine fully. A particularly nice touch is the inclusion of children’s choir Vivace who provide depth and colour to I Believe I Can Fly and the title song from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Less successful are Jack’s backing singers who are almost inaudible. The set list as a whole is eclectic, and there really is something for every taste.

Jack’s bubbly personality shines through, and he manages to gee the crowd into life as the night progresses. This is a lovely, small venue and the chance to see a performer of Jack’s calibre and interact with him in such an intimate setting, is a rare treat – it is a great way to spend a Sunday evening – you just can’t help pine for some of those big musical theatre belters to let Jack’s phenomenal voice soar…maybe next time.

Keith Jack: Movie Nights at Wild Cabaret, Glasgow, Set List:

Viva Las Vegas

Love Me Tender

Jailhouse Rock

Staying Alive

Love Is All Around

A 1000 Years

You Got a Friend in Me

So Close

I Just Called to Say I Loved You

I Believe I Can Fly

Beauty and the Beast

She’s Like The Wind

Eye of the Tiger

Somewhere Out There

Bright Eyes

When You Believe

Kiss From A Rose

Run To You

Everything I Do (I Do It For You)

Jailhouse Rock (reprise)

Keith Jack’s album Movie Nights is available from: http://officialkeithjack.co.uk/shop.php

 

REVIEW: Kerry Ellis – Wild Cabaret, Glasgow

West End leading lady Kerry Ellis is in Glasgow for one night only with her solo cabaret show in the very intimate surroundings of Wild Cabaret at the Wicked Lounge.

Ellis delivers a cycle of songs that she has largely been regurgitating over the last five years, most from her own stage career with some personal pop favourites peppered throughout. There’s also the obligatory audience participation on For Good, though to everyone’s amusement, rather than duetting with one lucky viewer, the tiny stage is packed with most of the audience passing the mic.

In an attempt at originality, many of the musical theatre and pop standards have been ‘treated’ to new arrangements, which, rather than give them a new lease of life, renders virtually every song the same: Sondheim, the Sherman Brothers, Boublil and Schonberg generally got it right first time. Ellis needs to take a leaf out of Josh Groban, Jeremy Jordan and theatre diva Bernadette Peters’ book and provide a richer programme – if you’re going to mess with the best, then it really has to be different.

Ellis has a decent set of pipes, of that there is no doubt, she’s also personable enough, but the evening as a whole is a little lacklustre and has the feeling that the spiel is well-rehearsed rather than a spontaneous reaction to the city and the crowd, there’s also a complete lack of eye contact, whilst fine when singing, is a little odd given the minuscule nature of the venue.

Ellis-lovers will absolutely love it, the tiny venue was packed to the rafters and buzzing throughout, however, those who are a little more discerning might be disappointed.

REVIEW: Jacqueline Hughes From East to West and Back – The Arts Centre, East Kilbride

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This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

Currently appearing in the West End production of Wicked, Jacqueline Hughes returns to her home town with her debut cabaret, From East to West and Back Again.

Hughes starts as she means to go on, opening with the Streisand classic “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and the parade of show-stoppers just keeps coming, from “All That Jazz” to “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”, each selection perfectly showcasing her powerhouse voice.

As well as Hughes’ engaging personality and the welcoming intimacy of the venue, what elevates this above the run of the mill cabaret fodder is the well devised programme. There’s an eclectic mix of the classic: “Broadway Baby”; the familiar: “On My Own”; some cleverly re-worked pop numbers: “Poker Face”, “Imagine”, “Songbird” and a smattering of the downright obscure: “Alto’s Lament” and “Taylor the Latte Boy” (sung by MD Alison Rona Cleland) both by cult composers Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler and “An Old Fashioned Love Story” from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, all of which delight. There’s a pleasing mix of solos and duets, guest performances, interaction, emotional and celebratory moments.

This is an intensely personal show and Hughes acknowledges both her roots and her beginnings as a performer, indeed one of her guests is her first singing teacher whom she cites as the person who started her on her performing career and who touchingly performs “The Look of Love” and “Over the Rainbow”. Hughes’ other guest is life-long best friend Lyndsey Gardiner, currently appearing in Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s. Gardiner delivers a touching rendition of  “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom and a stunning display of vocal gymnastics in Jeanine Tesori’s “The Girl From 14G” originally made famous by Kristin Chenoweth. Both women then sing “For Good” a touching tribute to their friendship. To her credit Hughes isn’t afraid to share the spotlight and her two special guests more than hold their own, both having their own moments in the spotlight. Mention must also be made of MD Alison Rona Cleland whose impressive accompaniment on both piano and guitar and characterful vocals reveal her to be yet another star in the making.

Hughes (and her guest Gardiner) are perfect examples of how good you need to be to even stand on a West End stage and the reality is that both of these stunningly talented performers are ensemble members. This cabaret allows Hughes her rightful place in the spotlight and with her rendition of  ”The Wizard and I” and the revelation that next year she will be understudying the role of Elphaba in Wicked after over two years in the production, hopefully, she will finally get her chance to shine and gain the plaudits she so richly deserves.