Primetime! – David Bedella & Friends performed at the St James Theatre Studio, London.
It may well have been a slightly blustery Sunday evening in Victoria, but deep in the heart of the St James Studio, there was definitely a warm Latin feel. David Bedella & Friends is a unique and deeply personal approach to the art of cabaret that feels more like a television chat show. Bedella has regularly held these evenings at the Century Club in Denmark Street, drawing not only the biggest names in the industry to join him on stage, but also a fair number of industry names in the audience.
Its sofa, chat and sing format, supported by a cracking band, works perfectly and this transfer to the St James Studio reveals Bedella to be a potential ‘poster boy’ for the London Festival of Cabaret. Ferociously charming, witty, warm and possessing that mellifluous voice, Bedella weaves a magic on the stage that allows his guests to shine and his audience to feel completely at home – and this is all before he has sung a note.
For his own numbers, Bedella chooses an eclectic mix to blend into the evening’s entertainment, opening the first half with Santana’s ‘Give Me Your Heart, Make It Real’ and following it up later with the poignant Barry Manilow favourite ‘Lay Me Down (And Roll Me Out to Sea)’. The second half sees Kander and Ebb take centre stage with Bedella’s infatuating baritone building to a crescendo with ‘The World Goes ’Round’.
Primetime! features several special guests including Sasha Regan, artistic director of the mighty atom that is the Union Theatre and producer of the highly successful all-male Gilbert and Sullivan series. Bedella caught the last leg of HMS Pinafore on tour and invited Neil Moors (Cocoran) and Alan Richardson (Josephine) to give a sample of G&S, Union style. Moors may have won hearts with ‘Fair Moon, To Thee I Sing’ but it was Richardson’s falsetto technique for ‘Sorry Her Lot’ that amazed the appreciative audience.
Just about to leave the cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge joined Bedella on the sofa for a chat. Hodge had directed Bedella last year in Torch Song Trilogy so the couple had quite a few stories to share with the audience and Hodge took to the piano to perform the Stevie Wonder number ‘All in Love is Fair’.
With Bedella just about to open with In The Heights at the Southwark Playhouse, he took Primetime! as an opportunity to plug the show, but more to the point highlight its themes and style to a new audience. Eve Polycarpou entertained the audience with a couple of Greek folk songs, but the real showstoppers were dealt by cast members Christina Modestou singing ‘Breathe’ and Emma Kingston singing ‘It Won’t Be Long Now’.
The excitement and diversity of the fringe coupled with big names and gossipy stories from the West End make David Bedella & Friends an irresistible combination for the London Festival of Cabaret.
Musical director for the evening was Steve Clark (keyboards) who was joined by Alex Steer (guitar), Dom Palmer (bass) and Ozzie (drums).
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