“Incredible Artists. Intimate venue. The Hippodrome’s story continues…”
The new cabaret season, Live at the Hippodrome, launched this summer in the Matcham Room at the Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square. For those that remember, The Hippodrome was an institution on London’s West End with stars such as Julie Andrews, Judy Garland and Sammy Davis Jr all having performed there. Since it’s triumphant re-opening this year it would seem that The Hippodrome is keen to delve back into its musical routes offering week long residencies to well-established West End and Broadway stars as well as upcoming talent and an array of international music legends.
Last Friday I had the pleasure of being taken to see my all-time favourite musical star, the original Roxie Hart from London’s 1997 Chicago revival, Ruthie Henshall. The show promised to be a ‘wry’ look at Ms Henshall’s life and musical career, and it certainly was that. At 8pm sharp the three-man band (piano, bass and drums) kicked off and from behind me a voice began to softly sing the opening lines to ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. Henshall moved her way through the tables of the snug room and up onto the stage, a vision with her hair in a neat up do and an ultra-glamorous floor-length sequin gown.
For those in the audience who were expecting Henshall to sing the ‘done to death’ songs that we have heard her sing time after time throughout her career, they were sure in for a surprise. It was clear from the off-set that she had quite deliberately kept those fail safes at arm’s length (for the most part anyway) and instead we were treated to all manner of songs, from Joni Mitchell to Billy Joel. Naturally, she kept a few of the old favourites in and being the true Gershwin fan that she is she couldn’t resist a fabulous rendition of ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ followed by the ever fun ‘They All Laughed’.
Henshall was at ease on the stage and the audience (and band) seemed perfectly charmed by her witty anecdotes and flirtatious quips, including the totally shameless yet endearing plugging of her new book So You Want To Be In Musicals? prior to a side-splitting rendition of ‘Adelaide’s Lament’.
Undoubtedly a crowd favourite was the hilarious and sexually ‘Woking’, a song about a train announcer blessed with the most orgasmic voice (no kidding) who whips the commuters into a frenzy with her ‘golden voice’. Likewise Tom Lehrer’s ‘Poisoning Pigeons In The Park’ went down exceptionally well.
Closing with the classic Chicago showstopper All That Jazz, Henshall brought the crowd to their feet rounding off the 1hr 30 minute cabaret on a much-welcomed familiar note.
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