Sally Ann Triplett: Elephants to Broadway and Back Again

Sally Ann Triplet 1

Musical theatre star Sally Ann Triplett brings her cabaret to the Crazy Coqs.

Sally Ann Triplet

Sally Ann Triplett at The Crazy Coqs

Sally Ann Triplett has had an extraordinarily varied career, starting off riding elephants in the circus, but mostly in musical theatre where her belt voice and dancing skills were put to best effect.  She describes herself as ‘a hoofer’, though she always hoped for a career in ballet.

The show at Crazy Coqs consists mostly of a whistle-stop tour of songs from her musicals – she has appeared in 11, apparently – with some jazz numbers thrown in for good measure. There are even a few excellent comic duets with her recent colleague from Damsel in Distress, Sam Harrison.

Accompanied by a rhythm section comprising musical director/pianist Mark Dickman, bass player Dave Berry and Martin Layzell on drums, she sings works from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas where she was engaged as Swing early in her career, which enabled her to play nine whores, as well as songs from Follies, Grease, Anything Goes, Guys and Dolls, and Mama Mia, to name but a few!  Chicago’s All That Jazz showed off her voice particularly effectively.

Whilst one could certainly see her undoubted talent, the first set, though entertaining, did feel somewhat unstructured.  There was precious little patter or well-crafted links, but rather just the dates of when she appeared in the show the song came from.

Also, Triplett gave few of the songs a personal take or showed much emotional connection with them. This meant we felt rather distanced, not helped by the band drowning her out on more than one occasion, making it difficult to hear the lyrics. The second set was more successful in this regard.

As with a lot of musical theatre performers, Triplett appears reluctant to ‘break the 4th wall’ – that is, to share directly with us.  She does speak and her patter is amusing, but this could be much more developed, offering more thoughts, observations and anecdote.  Occasionally, she tantalised us with titbits, such as when a drunken Eartha Kitt punched her during the run of Follies, and how she came to play opposite Sting on Broadway. We were dying to hear more.

In fact, Sting’s song As Yet from his Broadway show The Last Ship provided one of the most stimulating and affecting songs of the evening, alongside a lovely ballad arrangement of Abba’s Chiquitita, and a very touching rendition of Al Johnson’s When the Red, Red Robin.  Again, this worked so well, in part, because by then we knew that as a child she loved to go on Sunday drives with her father when they would sing old songs together.

She displays her musical ability too with the jazz material, perhaps best demonstrated by Straighten Up and Fly Right.

There is much to commend this show. It would be further strengthened by greater direct communication with us, including through the songs themselves. Her personality is charming and intriguing – and we would love to get to know her better.

Fiona-Jane Weston

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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