Season opener begins with a starburst

Review by Paul Nelson

THE opening of the 11-week season of Sunday cabarets at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the event organised in seemingly no time by Ian Mowat, was a runaway success.

One might call it a starburst, which as I recall is a firework with an initial breathtaking display followed by an even bigger and more glittering effect.

That, in fact, is virtually what happened.

The cabaret opened with the debut of Jody Crozier. Crozier in fact is a young man who has been in the West End playing leads for all his professional life; nevertheless, he admitted he was nervous, as this was his first appearance in the cabaret genre.

Near the end of his set, he then confessed that there was to be one more song just as his nerves had left him and he had begun to enjoy himself.

He need not have worried in the first place. He is a personable chap with a big voice, and his choice of numbers was excellent. Most showed off his fine singing technique and two, Where Was I When They Handed Out Brains and On The National Express, gave us a chance to see the humour of the man.

In addition, two Cole Porter songs, I'm a Gigolo and Love For Sale, both initially written for men but the latter now a standard for women, were given a professional treatment that was a joy to hear. A stirring version of I Don't Remember Christmas, from the Maltby/Shire revue Starting Here, Starting Now put the audience securely in the palm of his hand.

Judging by his personality, looks and voice, he will no doubt be returning to the West End soon but I would like to give a word of warning. Cabaret to my mind is not an end of the pier show, nor is it panto, and audience participation, I truly believe, should not be attempted. We did not, after all, go there to be in it but to be entertained by it.

Mr Crozier was followed by the much more secure Nicola Hughes (pictured above), who was also in fine voice. This former Velma from Chicago started by belting Velma's All That Jazz from the show.

Arlen, and Kander and Ebb featured strongly and her choice of numbers was delightful, moving, comic and romantic. The perfect mix for what turned out to be a seasoned entertainer, providing a shattering event to start off this season.