Harold Sanditen performed Flyin’ High at the Crazy Coqs, London. He then takes the show on an international tour until 5 June.
Star rating: 4 stars ★ ★ ★ ★
Harold Santiden’s residency at the award-winning Crazy Coqs is primarily as host to the venue’s remarkably successful Open Mic nights. Just about to celebrate its second anniversary, the weekly event is rapidly gaining a worldwide reputation, resulting in the phenomenon of ‘cabaret tourism’ in the capital. Flyin’ High is a timely reminder that Sanditen is not only the genial host of these evenings, but also an accomplished cabaret performer in his own right. Ahead of a worldwide tour, Flyin’ High sees Sanditen offer his unique view of the physical roads he has travelled in his life as an avid tourist with no less than 65 countries under his belt.
It comes as no surprise that Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen’s ‘Come Fly With Me’ features very early on in a set predominantly inspired by travel. It opens the show along with a syncopated arrangement of ‘Route 66’ – which runs through Tulsa, Oklahoma – as a tribute to the singer’s hometown. After this, the songs become a little more eclectic, from the Beatles’ ‘Rocky Raccoon’ to a delicate re-working of ‘Up On The Roof’, a number currently featured in the West End show Beautiful –The Carole King Musical.
An avid storyteller, Sanditen peppers his set with engaging tales of life on the road from glorious sunsets in Guatemala to downing lobster and beers in Tijuana. It’s amusing and ultimately engaging banter that gives shape to the evening and springboards a selection of great numbers.
Through the week, Santiden has been joined on stage by an interesting mix of guests including none other than Dame Janet Suzman in her professional cabaret debut, but the night I visited was the turn of Turkish-born vocalist M Seran Bilgi. A regular at the Open Mic nights, Bilgi’s rich, soothing vocals are a perfect accompaniment to Sanditen’s light tenor – singing in Greek, no less.
This handsome duet is an aside, however, from Sanditen’s main gig and he is soon back in his stride with ‘Let’s Eat Home’, ‘The Look of Love’ and, thankfully, the artist’s signature number ‘Waters of March’. While it’s very much Sanditen centre stage, the artist pays homage to his musical director Michael Roulston and the band (Tom Mansi on bass, Jonathan Kitching on percussion). A familiar and welcome face at the keyboards in countless cabaret bars across the capital, it’s Roulston’s arrangements that are exceptional here, including an ebullient rendition of Berlin’s ‘I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning’ and the lively Act II opener, ‘Aquarela do Brasil’, replete with samba rhythms and whistle blowing.
Flyin’ High is a lighthearted, musical exploration of a life well travelled and as such a great show to take on the road. From Monday, the boys will be packing their bags and heading out to San Diego, Palm Springs, LA, San Francisco, New York, Paris and Montenegro.
* Readers may also be interested in:
Janet Suzman makes singing debut with Harold Sanditen at Crazy Coqs – News
Roulston and Young – Two Faced – Crazy Coqs – Review