A week or so ago I wrote an article highlighting some of the best new theatrical productions opening in London’s West End this January, as I regularly do for the start of each new month. There’s some great new shows to be seen this month, including The Master Builder at the Old Vic starring Ralph Fiennes, comedian Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure Reloaded, and the short-lived return of the RSC’s Richard II at the Barbican which sees David Tennant reprising the title role.
As I’ve said in the past though, theatrical enjoyment shouldn’t only limited to the big-budget shows that can be found in West End theatres. In addition to a thriving fringe theatre scene (the critically acclaimed production of musical Grey Gardens currently running at Southwark Playhouse being a perfect case in point of the quality of theatre that can be found in the London fringes), there is usually always a good cabaret to be found somewhere around London, and these intimate performances are often just as rewarding an experience – albeit in a different way. This past Sunday, 10th January, for example, I was at the Orange Tree Theatre where West End star Hadley Fraser was hosting his own cabaret. Fraser, who is currently appearing in both A Winter’s Tale and Harlequinade as part of the Kenneth Branagh season at the Garrick Theatre, was joined by guests Ramin Karimloo and musical theatre writer Dougal Irvine (although an unwell Rosalie Craig was unfortunately absent on the night). Both are old friends of his, and the easy familiarity and gentle ribbing that went on only added to the laid-back, fun atmosphere of the evening. Of course it goes without saying that the musical performances were outstanding. All three are hugely talented as both singers and songwriters, and despite having seen them perform on numerous occasions at previous cabaret events – together and separately –, it is always nothing less than an absolute pleasure.
I’ll be seeing Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser again next week when Karimloo hosts his own cabaret, An Evening with Ramin Karimloo, at Islington Assembly Hall on Wednesday 20th January (preceded by a performance at the Union Chapel the night before). His is not the only cabaret of interest coming up in old London town however…
Following the huge success of the series in summer/autumn 2015, TheatreMAD’s Late Night Cabaret Season is making a return with the involvement of a further five West End shows. The casts of five of the top musicals in the West End will be performing in cabaret in aid of The Make A Difference Trust, beginning with the London company of long-running musical, Les Miserables.
Last year’s fundraising cabarets – with the exception of the Gypsy cabaret – were held at the Delfont Room, but this time around, the series is moving to the Hippodrome Casino, London. TheatreMAD’s second Late Night Cabaret Season launches at the venue this Thursday, 14th January, with the cast of Les Miserables. It is then succeeded the following week by the cast of The Phantom of the Opera, whose self-titled cabaret, The Music of Tonight, takes place on Thursday 21st January.
The full programme of performances in the Late Night Cabaret Season presented by TheatreMAD is as follows:
Les Miserables in Cabaret: Thurs 14th Jan 2016, Hippodrome Casino
The Phantom of the Opera in Cabaret – The Music of Tonight: Thurs 21st Jan, Hippodrome Casino
Miss Saigon in Cabaret: Thurs 11th Feb, Hippodrome Casino
Kinky Boots in Cabaret: Thurs 10th March, Hippodrome Casino
Wicked in Cabaret: Thurs 17th March, Hippodrome Casino
The Make A Difference Trust is a West End charity that brings together the theatre industry and its supporters to raise funds for HIV and AIDS Projects that raise awareness and provide care, support and education in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa; as well supporting those in the entertainment industry facing hardship as a result of long term chronic illness.
Cabaret events such as these with West End casts and individual performers are little theatrical jewels set in the golden chain of the London theatre scene. They offer audiences the chance to see the talent of the West End up-close and personal in a relaxed, intimate environment, and more often than not, for the benefit of some charitable organisation. Each cabaret is a unique experience, and one which every theatre fan should partake in as often as possible.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 12th January 2016