Thursday, 7 March 2019

REVIEW: Lorna Dallas at the Crazy Coqs



Lorna Dallas is a West End star who having taken 20 years away from the limelight some may not recognise but in this ninety minute cabaret she gives us every reason to rediscover her and enjoy her fabulous soprano voice and delightful story telling. Her song choices, arrangements and perfect delivery are an absolute joy.

She explains that when she met the love of her life Gary Brown, she turned down playing Anna opposite Yul Brynner on Broadway in the 1982 revival of a King and I to be with him. She recently performed in Cabaret a set called Home Again, and this new show Stages is really Home Again 2. It is a wonderful collection of songs by brilliant lyricists and composers including Irving Berlin, Kander and Ebb, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Sammy Cahn, Ivor Novello , Anthony Newley and Rogers and Hammerstein II. But each is given an emotional context by the reminiscences from the different stages of her home life and from Show Business. She sets the tone for the evening with a wonderful version of "There's no business like show business" where she shows off her excellent phrasing, delivery and diction. 

She begins her life story with her sister Sissy and her own desire to be a singer against the wishes of her parents with "All I need (is one good break)". Her break came in a Coca Cola sponsored national talent competition which she won at the age of 17 and then went on tour with the Belles of Indiana to Iceland , Greenland and all places North. In tribute to her sister she performs "Blues in the night".

Her story of her visit to New Orleans and being shown the town by a lady called Fanny Mae is delightful and she engages everyone in the audience with her sparkling dancing eyes as she sings with a knowing smile " Never give anything away" before revealing that Fanny was the Madam of a New Orleans brothel! 

She fell in love with London during her two year stint in Showboat in 1971 with Cleo Laine and later played in Kismet in 1978. She shows her versatility and comic timing in the set highlight a rendition of 'Stranger in Paradise" where she sings the song as she did at The Shaftesbury theatre, in Cabaret at the Savoy and for a German TV recording. 

There are deeply emotional songs too as in "Empty" with beautiful sad lyrics about the feelings of loss , and in the powerful song "My Dearest Dear" which she performed at the 1982 Royal variety Show. Both songs were delivered perfectly to connect and touch the audience. She closes the show with a wonderful version of "Hello, young lovers" and appropriately "If all the world's a stage". 

She is supported on the piano by her musical director Chris Denny and guided by her director Barry Kleinbort who cleverly has changed some lyrics and they have put together this excellent show. Sadly it is only playing one night this time but she is a name to look out for when she brings the show back again to the West End.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: Cabaret | Price of Ticket: £25
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