The Pheasantry is a well-known and popular venue of choice for many performance artists and has welcomed its fair share of stars from the West End looking to stage their own cabarets. Located on the Kings Road in the heart of Chelsea, it is easily accessible and provides a warm and intimate atmosphere ideally suited for the cabaret experience.
I’ve visited the venue on several occasions and it has become a favoured spot for me, as it has so many others. There are some great events coming up in the next few months spanning a variety of musical genres, but for musical theatre fans, there are some especially exciting nights of entertainment in the pipeline. These include solo cabarets from award-winning Broadway actress Christine Andreas (La Cage aux Folles, On Your Toes, Oklahoma!) and Welsh classical singer/actor Mark Llewellyn Evans (performing songs from Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, etc.), as well as a collective effort from glamorous trio ‘The Girls From Oz’ (Kara Lane: The Rocky Horror Show, Oliver! – Simone Craddock: Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar – Abigail Jaye: Evita, Blood Brothers) and four twenty-something’s from the West End (Olivia Brereton: The Phantom of the Opera – Katy Treharne: The Phantom of the Opera, Dear World – Craig Rhys Barlow: Children of Eden, Tommy – Alistair Barron: The Phantom of the Opera, Three Phantoms) giving a very personal performance of Sondheim’s work in A Good Thing Going.
Before all of that though is the remainder of the month of March, which still holds a number of musical theatre cabaret events that shouldn’t be missed. West End talents Nicole Faraday and Nadim Naaman are both appearing at The Pheasantry this month, hosting solo cabarets for the pleasure of London’s theatre-going population.
Nicole Faraday is first to take to The Pheasantry’s stage, displaying her voice in an up-close-and-personal performance there on Sunday 23rd March 2014. The versatile actress is well known for both her television and theatre roles and is a regular on the cabaret circuit. Her TV credits include Bad Girls, Casualty and Emmerdale, and she has performed in both regional and West End theatre productions to great acclaim, most notably in Bad Girls – The Musical. She played the role of Shell Dockley, first at the Yorkshire Playhouse and then in the show’s West End run at the Garrick Theatre, and won ‘Best Supporting Performance in a Musical’ at the TMA Awards in 2006 for her performance in the original run. She has also played Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Eva Cassidy in Over The Rainbow and Dr. Jekyll in a modern adaption of Jekyll and Hyde. She returns to The Pheasantry in a few weeks time following a previous appearance there, as well as having played such other cabaret ‘hot-spots’ as Lauderdale House, Pizza On the Park and the Battersea Barge and performed as a guest soloist with Frank Renton’s 22-piece orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on several occasions. She can also be heard on the West End cast recording of Bad Girls – The Musical and fellow West End star Dianne Pilkington’s album Little Stories.
Following shortly after her is the equally talented actor/singer/songwriter Nadim Naaman, who has been part of some of the well-received productions in recent years. Most recently seen in One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, he first appeared in the West End playing Rolf in The Sound of Music (London Palladium) and went on to such roles as Armand in Margueritte (Tabard Theatre) and Anatoly in Chess (Union Theatre). One of his most notable theatre credits is The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre) in which he covered and played the principal role of Raoul countless times, to great acclaim, and he also took on the role of Charles Clarke in the award-winning production of Titanic (Southwark Playhouse)last year. That was a good year for him, as it was also the year he released his debut album We All Want The Same. The autumn album was a compilation of 11 self-penned songs ranging the musical genres from pop and jazz to R&B and musical theatre. His album launch gig at the Union Theatre last September was a sell-out success, and the upcoming event at The Pheasantry on Sunday 30th March 2014 looks set to be the same. Auburn Jam Records, who released the album in 2013, present a night of Nadim Naaman where he will perform live onstage with his 5-piece band, sharing the songs from his album along with other musical numbers which have inspired his writing and defined his career so far. He will be joined by special West End guests Will Barratt (Jersey Boys, Sweeney Todd, Phantom) and Siubhan Harrison (From Here To Eternity, Les Miserables, We Will Rock You), as well as his support act Nazneen, a cross-over jazz singer-songwriter who made it to the finals of the UK Songwriting Contest in 2013 and is set to release her own album this July. Being a familiar face at cabaret events, his solo cabaret night is a date to mark on the calendar.
There are a few more events still to come in March which will appeal to musical theatre fans, including the running series Cabaret Confidential and That Tring Thing.
Cabaret Confidential is a musical theatre showcase which is now in its 8th year. Each month, host Jamie Anderson introduces a spectacular line-up of rising names from the musical theatre and cabaret scene to perform before The Pheasantry audiences, giving them an early glimpse of the next generation of stars. Accompanied onstage by pianist Tom Carradine, the night of Thursday 20th March 2014 brings the talents of David Booth, Annabel York, Two Dumb Blondes and A Girl Called Fred. This is not one for the kids, carrying with it a recommendation that those aged 16 and under do not attend.
That Tring Thing provides another window into the future as students from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts take to the stage in an evening of music, comedy and song. Presented by The Musical Theatre Course, Students Past and Present brings a selection of the school’s current students and recent graduates to The Pheasantry on Friday 28th March 2014. With musical direction from Simon Sharp, cabaret star Paul L. Martin hosts the monthly series which runs at the venue for a 6-month series of dates. The March event features 2008 graduate Jasmine Gur, who received further training at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and has since gone on to play a variety of roles in professional stage productions such as Rapunzel in Rapunzel and the Rascal Prince (Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds), Jenni in A Dream Across the Ocean (Hackney Empire), and most recently, Princess Jasmine in Aladdin (Theatre Royal Windsor).
For fans of Stephen Sondheim who don’t want to wait until April to hear his work performed, Test of Time Productions is presenting a night of Sondheim at The Pheasantry on Monday 31st March 2014. Sondheim – ‘Only’…Slightly Rearranged… celebrates the music of the beloved musical theatre composer, but with a slight gender-bending twist that sees the girls singing boys songs and the boys singing girls songs. A collection of some of London’s finest professional actors/musicians will give intimate, stripped-back performances of his songs, accompanied only by the piano and with the added touch of relaying tales about him. Sondheim’s is a name any respectable musical theatre fan should know, and this is the perfect opportunity to experience the wonderful music he has given the world.
This is just a small sample of the highly exciting and entertaining events taking place at The Pheasantry; only 3 months into 2014, there is much more in store for musical theatre fans throughout the year. With so much on offer, fans should have no trouble filling up their theatre diaries.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Tuesday 18th March 2014