Cassie Compton performed at the Crazy Coqs, London.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★
There’s not very much of Cassie Compton but from a tiny, almost fragile frame emerges a husky, effortlessly powerful voice that fair takes your breath away.
The 2004 X Factor contender made her Crazy Coqs debut a winning one with material made famous by female songwriters, not least Carole King, Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell, Amy Winehouse and Bonnie Raitt topped off with Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ as a roof-raising finale.
Songs from her West End past, notably her stints as Eponine in Les Misérables and Nessarose in Wicked, were avoided – “because they freak me out” – and her one concession to musical theatre came with one of the least-known of her set, by Californian singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.
And if the terrific ‘She Used to Be Mine’, released as an album lead ahead of Bareilles’ first Broadway musical Waitress, based on the 2007 movie of the same name, she’ll have a hit show on her hands. After a sell-out run in Boston, Waitress opens on the Great White Way in March.
Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ and Raitt’s ’I Can’t Make You Love Me’ were power ballads equally well suited to Compton’s smooth belter of a voice, and while admitting she was no great fan of Miley Cyrus, she made an outstanding job of her ‘Wrecking Ball’.
Friends Tim Driesen, the Belgian actor-composer who’s been playing Frankie Valli in Holland, and Jodie Jacobs came on for duets – she and Jacobs rocking the joint with Queen’s ‘Hammer to Fall’ -– to add variety to an interesting collection of the familiar with the unfamiliar.
This rare solo show, accompanied by Simon Heeley on piano, came shortly after finishing in the Michael John LaChiusa musical See What I Wanna See at Jermyn Street – her last, she said, was at Lauderdale House not far from her north London beginnings where music, thanks to her mother, herself a professional singer, was always a big part of her life.
Once Compton polishes up the repartee which comes tumbling out in a rush of words, many of which get lost on the audience, she’ll become a more assured performer in a cabaret environment.
Fascinating stories, about the night it all went wrong at Wicked, the embarrassment of forgetting the words of her big Les Mis solo ‘On My Own’ when later asked to audition for something else, and the awesomeness, as a teenager, of being called up to sing alongside Winehouse, need working on.
But as for the singing itself, this little lady makes a big impression.
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Interview – Cassie Compton makes her debut at Crazy Coqs – Interview