Open-Mic Night of professional standard at Crazy Coqs.
Fiona-Jane Weston at Crazy Coqs
If you labour under the misconception that open-mics are little more than karaoke nights in posher venues, then you really must go to the Open-Mic Night at Crazy Coqs on Thursday nights. You will be very pleasantly surprised.
Not only is the room beautiful and the staff pleasant, but the standard of performer is universally professional, even though one or two of the singers may in fact be simply lovers of music and happen to have a natural ability. There was certainly one such performer this evening.
The atmosphere is at once both relaxed and disciplined, held together by debonair host Harold Sanditen. His style is welcoming and calm, and he keeps a tight rein on the tone and quality of the night.
The open-mic has been going for exactly one year, and celebrates its birthday next week with a special bash. Sanditen has striven over the past 12 months to encourage a mix of cabaret, musical theatre and jazz singers to step up, which is unusual, and most welcome. Apparently, even opera divas have regaled the audience on previous occasions.
I was unable to stay for the whole performance (it’s a late one!), but this mix was much in evidence with Julez Hamilton kicking off the proceedings with a great swing version of On A Clear Day, and there were comic songs from Liza Keast and Geoff Cotton, and a lovely Joni Mitchell song bravely rendered acapella by the delightful Akari Yamamoto. Her comment on Judaism was priceless! I noticed Helen Theophanous. Helen Rivera and Frank Loman were there too, and was sorry to miss their turns.
In the style of New York’s venue Don’t Tell Mama, the waitress Hatty Preston got up too – and was great!
The quality of the work was enhanced by the excellent musicians Nick Durcan, deputising on piano for their usual pianist Michael Roulston, and Jonty Fisher on bass. I should say I was fortunate enough to be able to sing myself, and was proud to be there.
Fiona-Jane Weston at Crazy Coqs
About Fiona Jane Weston
I am Fiona-Jane Weston and as well as being a performer myself (see website), I write reviews of and features on shows, mainly on the London cabaret and theatre scene.
I have worked in theatre for many years, but decided to embark on a new direction in cabaret in 2009, when I produced 20th Century Woman: The Compact Cabaret. Not wanting to neglect my love of spoken word, particularly drama and verse, I made the conscious decision to include these elements in the programme, as well as wonderful songs, to tell the story of women's changing status and preoccupations throughout the 20th Century and up to now.
I was invited to audition for the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale, run by the late legendary Erv Raible, and that was thrilled to be one of only 26 accepted that year, where I was taught by the masters of the genre. Amanda McBroom (composer of the Bette Middler hit "The Rose" and the poignant "Errol Flynn"), Laurel Massé, original member of Manhattan Transfer, Sally Mayes, Tony Award nominees Sharon McNight and Tovah Feldshuh, and New York cabaret veteran Julie Wilson were all on the faculty. We were also treated to the musical direction of Alex Rybeck, Hubert Tex Arnold and the now late Paul Trueblood.
With the benefit of their insightful teaching and great encouragement, I took my show to The Duplex in New York, where I was delighted with the response.
Since then, I have produced Loving London: The Capital Cabaret, using the same format of songs, poetry and drama, in various London venues, including Leicester Square Theatre and The Crazy Coqs.
2014, the centenary of World War 1, saw the launch of Wartime Women: the Khaki Cabaret to a sellout house at St. James Theatre, London, garnering great notices, including from The Times and Musical Theatre Review. I have since been touring the show to Belgium and throughout the UK.
I hope these reviews and interviews entertain and educate at the same time, and if please do leave comments in the box. It's great to engage in a conversation about the Arts.
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