Gary Williams – Hollywood Swings continues at the Crazy Coqs, London until 28 May.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Gary Williams, a great favourite of Crazy Coqs patrons, returns with his latest cabaret which he dubs ‘A Technicolor Celebration of the Silver Screen’. And what he delivers is what it says on the tin – a trawl through the movies and their soundtracks. Each one being given the Williams treatment and excellently sung in his trademark swinging style.
He provides an evening not only of quality but also of quantity. Williams manages to fit 30 numbers into his brand new act, many of which are new songs to his repertoire. In addition to his singing, he entertains with his knowledge of film history and with anecdotes – all delivered with his customary charm and wit.
His first set starts with the golden age of film musicals, journeys through classic movie scores and gives a passing nod to the present with Spider-Man.
A medley of Fred Astaire numbers are matched with a couple associated with Gene Kelly. ‘Unchained Melody’ featured in two films – it was written originally for Unchained and appeared later in Ghost.
With ‘That’s Amore’, we are reminded that it came from a Jerry Lewis film, The Caddy, and was sung by Dean Martin, while ‘Tu vuò fà l’americano’ conjured up visions of Sophia Loren in It Started in Naples.
The British contribution is reflected in a Matt Monro medley and the first set closer ‘Always Look On the Bright Side of Life’ which has the audience joining in.
Announcing that the second set would be all music from Disney films may have raised a few eyebrows, and possibly some concerns, but Williams’ treatment quickly removes such fears.
He pays homage to Peggy Lee with the two songs she wrote for ‘The Lady and the Tramp’. One of the best songs of the evening is a beautifully tender version of ‘Baby Mine’ from Dumbo. The animal theme continues with lively antics as he delves into The Jungle Book for a couple of numbers.
The title song from Alice in Wonderland, in an arrangement by Clive Dunstall, takes on the air of the Bossa Nova. Dunstall provides excellent piano and keyboard accompaniment as well as arranging other numbers. Joe Pettitt completes the musical backing with sensitive work on the double bass and guitar.
Once again Williams proves to be a consummate showman who is at ease with his audience, cheeky with his patter and who can entertain in spades. He leaves them wanting more. They do get more. For the encore they are treated to an exquisite version of ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’.