Much of the success of cabaret shows relies on the right combination of performer and selection of material and with this show featuring Reed Sinclair and Tiffany Graves, the Cabaret in the House series at Lauderdale House absolutely hit the jackpot. Tim McArthur’s programming has paired rising stars with more established performers but what is nice is that they are both given ample opportunity to shine, there’s no minor supporting slot here but a full programme from both which really offers value for money, especially when it is of this quality and compered by the delightfully self-deprecating Valerie Cutko.
Canadian Reed Sinclair put together an intriguing set of songs, showcasing a range of musical theatre numbers from his career ranging from Cole Porter numbers to songs from US musicals that didn’t make it to the West End. And whilst the tendency might have been towards the slightly obscure, Sinclair delighted me by featuring not one but two of my randomly favourite songs! Hedwig & The Angry Inch is one of those shows and indeed films that really deserves to be much better known and when it was introduced to me by a friend, ‘Wicked Little Town’ was the song that stuck out for from the first listen and Sinclair’s rendition here was beautifully heartfelt, mixed in with some of ‘Hedwig’s Lament’ too.
And ‘What More Can I Say’ from William Finn’s musical Falsettos is just a gorgeous simple song, which was sung superbly here, also in a medley with The Games I Play. Accompanied by Alexander Bermange on the piano, we were also treated to a couple of songs from Bermange’s new musical Thirteen Days, based on the Cuban Missile Crisis which included a beautiful duet called ‘Anyone But You’ and a witty comic number ‘The Grandad’s Defence’ which very much suited Sinclair’s chirpy humour. And even though it was axed from the show, I would have loved to hear what his take on Cheryl Cole’s ‘Fight For This Love’ sounded like.
Tiffany Graves is one busy woman: having just finished a lengthy stay in Sweet Charity as Helene and also covering the lead role of Charity on a regular basis, she is soon launching into the role of Killer Queen in the UK tour of We Will Rock You and so I think we were lucky to catch her here in London while we still can. And as with Sinclair before her, she pulled together an eclectic but personal mix of songs to take us through the Sunday afternoon. Accompanied by the dexterous Barney Ashworth on the piano Graves talked of her inspirations, in particular the singer Nancy Lamott, and she opened with ‘I Got The Sun In the Morning’ from Annie Get Your Gun and closed with a quietly beautiful ‘I’ll Be Here With You’, paying her own tribute. She also used her ‘quiet voice’ on a gorgeously hushed version of ‘Moon River’ which sent shivers down the spine. Fabulously open and engaging with her between-song chat, we discovered tidbits about her nephew Ptolemy, her workshopping Bridget Jones The Musical, her views on whether vegetarians can get food poisoning and her dating life:I would love to know how the meal in the dark worked out!
So altogether a hugely enjoyable afternoon and it is not often one can walk away from these things thinking that I would love to be good friends with the performers, between Sinclair’s taste in music and Graves’ sense of humour, I’m sure we’d all get along just fabulously! There’s just one more of these shows left in the series, featuring Legally Blonde’s Alex Gaumond so if you’ve nothing on next Sunday, I would recommend making the trip to Highgate.