David Scheel

David Scheel

Acclaimed Australian comic pianist David Scheel to appear at Crazy Coqs.

A cabaret artist from Australia is to appear at the Crazy Coqs on Monday who has been described as one of the funniest pianists in the world.David Scheel 2

David Scheel first burst onto the scene just over 20 years ago, when his solo concert, Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player, sold out at three consecutive Edinburgh Festivals, in London’s West End, and instantly had him acclaimed as the most original musical humourist of his generation.  A flood of British radio and television appearances rapidly cemented his reputation, and naturally led to inevitable comparisons with the legendary Victor Borge.

As well as sending up the classics, he may play a piece by Bach with one hand, and another by Andrew Lloyd Webber with the other, simultaneously. His “translation” of the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda is described as a genuine comedy classic, as is Everything You Need to Know about Classical Music Explained in 5 Minutes.

But the comedy isn’t confined just to music. David Scheel also sends up, or tears down, many of the icons of modern living: supermarket culture, the internet, text messages, Celebs, and he does so armed with a locker as full of comic voices and accents as Robin Williams, and – personally, I think this is important -without using a single four-letter word. “If you need to use bad language to get laughs, then your core material isn’t strong enough,” he says. My thoughts exactly.

As well as funny, Scheel is a highly skilled concert pianist, and composer. Pure music lovers will not be short-changed.

Fiona-Jane Weston

Review addendum:

It was fortunate to have an opportunity to see Scheel at work, as there has been a 20 year absence since he played in London, apparently.

The show, as expected, had plenty of amusing anecdotes on his musical life, including a time when he ran a nightclub here in London called Fouberts, and he had some sharp quips for some of his pet hates about modern life.

We saw him playing familiar tunes in different styles and genres, and lots of fun was had here, but for me the standout moments were when he allowed himself the luxury of simply playing for us.  A fine classical pianist, it was a delight to hear some little known pieces played in the beautiful room that is the Crazy Coqs, including the seldom heard Spanish piece Manuel de Falla’s Flamenco from La Vide Breve, and some of his own compositions such as Dance of the Birds, inspired by the romantic mating ritual of cranes, from his album Hymn for Planet Earth Suite.

There was also a fascinating item when he improvised on four notes volunteered by the audience.

Scheel hopes to return to London in two years time after an extensive tour to the United States, where he is better known and sells out large venues, so that will be a good time to catch him.

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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. Fiona-Jane Weston
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