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Wednesday, 6 April 2022

REVIEW: Lorna Dallas’ Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days at the Crazy Coqs

Lorna Dallas returns to the intimate cabaret room Crazy Coq, just off Piccadilly Circus for two nights as part of their American in London series this month. She calls this set Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days and it is a collection of songs from her past prompted by a lockdown cataloguing of memorabilia from her career. When I previously saw her at the same venue in March 2019 in her set called Stages, I was blown away by her charm, delightful reminiscences, and beautiful voice. Judging by the crowd for her first night back she has a loyal and appreciative fan base of knowledgeable aficionados including the pianist Bobby Crush. 

She still delivers each song with precision, perfect diction and a soaring voice with a wide range that is extraordinary to hear. Her short links slickly explain the reason the song is included and occasionally set the scene but there is a pervading melancholy air to the selection perhaps reflecting the past few years and I missed the more upbeat songs of my first visit which had included "There's no business-like show business”, “Stranger in Paradise", "Hello, young lovers" and "If all the world's a stage". 

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".

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

INTERVIEW: Christina Bennington, star of Bat Out of Hell

Christina can currently be seen in the lead role of Raven in Bat Out of Hell at the Dominion Theatre, a role she originated and has also played at the Manchester Opera House, the London Coliseum and in Toronto. She will be playing two solo concerts at the Crazy Coqs on the 7th January just two days after closing in Bat out of Hell. Her other credits include Pearl in Starlight Express (The Other Palace), Johanna Barker in Sweeney Todd (Derby/Mercury Theatre Colchester), Kim/cover Magnolia in Show Boat (New London Theatre), Marlene Hardcastle in The Smallest Show on Earth (UK Tour), cover Laurey in Oklahoma! (UK Tour), Sharon in Finian’s Rainbow (Charing Cross Theatre) and Marilyn/Sovereign in A Christmas Carol (Birmingham Repertory Theatre). 

Can you tell us a little about your experiences at Bat Out of Hell in the last few weeks? Halloween must have been quite the occasion! And how much did you enjoy the Sing-Along evenings? Hearing 1000+ people belting the songs back must have been pretty special?

There’s never a dull day at Bat! Our Singalongs have been a wonderful discovery. I was nervous about them but hearing 1000+ people singing along is very moving. It’s a vulnerable and exposing thing to sing in front of others and we’re so grateful for people putting themselves out there. Halloween had a particularly electric atmosphere. The sheer wall of sound from the audience was wild! It was also rather surreal looking out at a whole audience dressed in full costume - felt like they should’ve been on stage with us!

You’ve now played opposite 6 different Strats during your time as Raven. Do you have any subtle changes you make dependant on the actor that the audience might not even notice?

Playing opposite 6 Strats has been an amazing learning curve. I act with 3 Strats a week regularly, which means I have to be very flexible as that means 3 very different shows. For my Raven to be a match made in heaven for their Strat, my character naturally changes. There are other challenges too - as I always do all 8 shows a week, I have to pace myself and be prepared for Strat to be more rested and have more in the tank vocally. I have to remember that I don’t have those downtimes to recover, and use technique to stay solid and match their energy. Right now I’d say my show with Jordan requires an earnest rebel Raven, Simon a cheeky, feisty one and Barney a playful but dangerous one.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

REVIEW: Well-Strung at the Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zedel

A clever amalgamation of classical and contemporary hit songs played at the Crazy Coqs Live at the Zedel by the virtuosic, campy and not to forget pleasing on the eye Well-Strung, bringing a warmth to this cosy venue.

Well-Strung are a New York string quartet/ boy band who have gained critical acclaim and international attention, performing across the world their unique mash ups. Consisting of Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Trevor Wadleigh (viola) and Daniel Shevlin (cello) this crazy talented group play a varied repertoire, from mixing Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ with Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’, to the Sound of Music’s ‘Do-Re-Mi’.

For me, the most notable thing about this group is that their four part harmonies are off the planet. My particular highlight was ‘Part of Your World’ from the Little Mermaid, where Bagnell’s musical theatre voice shone and the acapella harmonies of the group gave what one can only describe as an eargasm. I particularly enjoyed their mash up of Gonoud’s ‘Ave Maria’ mixed with Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, showcasing Shevlin’s sublime vocals belting the high notes.
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