Review: LIVE AT LOLA’S A Musical Chat Show with Stars of the West End

Christine Allado, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Hadley Fraser and Isaac Hesketh give some great cabaret and chat at Live at Lola’s

“I have somewhere exciting to go”

She may have been a showgirl but Lola has herself a very swankily appointed space beneath The Hippodrome. Lola’s Underground Casino, incredibly, is a converted water pool from the venue’s old days as a theatre but in its luxe new form, it played the venue for Live at Lola’s A Musical Chat Show with Stars of the West End. From the team behind the fun Monday Night at the Apollo series, the same chatshow/cabaret hybrid format is maintained to offer a stirring showcase for some serious talent.

The guestlist for this evening was Christine Allado, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Hadley Fraser and Isaac Hesketh, with Greg Barnett acting as compere. And whilst the show featured several sublime moments of intimately performed musical theatre, it also offered a hilariously borderline-chaotic energy as anecdotes veered off-course, in-jokes worked their way in and a quiz round produced a genius high school-related clanger (as well as revealing some audience members you’d definitely want on your pub quiz team).

Accompanied by the frankly outrageously talanted MD Chris Hatt (seriously, his piano playing was hypnotisingly good), the musical offerings ranged from Sondheim to Slade. Allado showed extraordinary range going from the legit soprano of Show Boat’s ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’ to the yearning of In The Heights’ ‘It Won’t Be Long Now’ to a delicately acoustic take on ‘Shallow’ from A Star is Born in duet with Fraser. His own emotion-soaked interpretation of ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ was a highlight for me – I look forward to checking out his new album. 

And Carly Mercedes Dyer, a double-nominee and winner at last year’s fosterIAN awards and my main reason for booking in, was superlative whether ‘Keepin’ out of mischief now’ from Ain’t Misbehavin’ or blowing the roof off with a stunning ‘Music and the Mirror’ from A Chorus Line in which she excelled last year. It might have been nice to get a second number from Hesketh to go with their powerful take on ‘Part of your World’ but who knows, maybe that was the punishment for the Rydell High boo boo.  

The chat was illuminating too, pointing to some of the pressures and privileges of a life on the stage. Dyer’s losing a role in SIX to the pandemic but ultimately ending up in the award-winning Anything Goes instead. Taking selfies with Dame Judi and sharing the stage with her too. Judgemental raccoons and breaking Disney+ boundaries; crab-apples, cassettes and contract-breaking – we absolutely ran the gamut and in these intimate surroundings, it really added to the uniqueness of an already special evening. Here’s hoping the series continues.

Photo: Danny Kaan 

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