Gregg Edelman: Broadway State Of Mind continues at Crazy Coqs, London until 25 October.
London cabaret fans are being thoroughly spoilt: while the incomparable Maria Friedman’s two-week residency continues to thrill at The Pheasantry, another master of the craft, Gregg Edelman has sidled into town at the Crazy Coqs in Piccadilly.
This is only Edelman’s second time here – he did a somewhat different version of Broadway State of Mind at the Crazy Coqs in June of last year – which is why you should get to know this polished star of 15 Broadway musicals who is sadly nowhere near as well known over here as he should be.
From Evita in 1979, his Broadway credits include Cliff in Cabaret, Billy Crocker in Anything Goes, Stine in City of Angels, Colonel Ricci in Passion, Javert in Les Misérables and good roles in Into the Woods, Anna Karenina and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, as well as a Chicago run in Sweeney Todd.
Naturally enough, he gives us samplers from several of these key shows in his long career and tells wonderful showbiz tales of working with Broadway greats Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb and Cy Coleman.
‘Don’t Go’ was specially written for him for the 1987 revival of Cabaret, the show that really made his name, replacing the original ‘Why Should I Wake Up?’ (which he also sang) while the two he sings from City of Angels, a jazzy ‘Double Talk’ and ‘I’m Nothing Without You’, are good reasons to grab any ticket you can for the Donmar revival of that Coleman/David Zippel/Larry Gelbart classic when it opens in December at the Donmar Warehouse.
As Edelman has done Tony in West Side Story, as well as Passion, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods during his four-time Tony nominated career, there is always going to be a fair smattering of Sondheim, who he said had been such an inspiration and help to his career.
Sure enough, there is a ‘Tonight/Something’s Coming’ pairing and later ‘Everybody Says Don’t’ from Anyone Can Whistle and an outstanding spin on ‘Send in the Clowns’ from A Little Night Music.
Let’s face it, great though they are, ‘Bring Him Home’ (from Les Misérables) and ’Clowns’, have been done to death but Edelman invests both with new meaning, particular the former which brought tears to a good few eyes.
Edelman has such natural charm and playful rapport with an audience, a pitch-perfect voice that never strains, and a unique ability to breathe life into cabaret staples that make them as fresh as the day they were written.
A duet with his accompanist and MD Christopher Denny on ‘The One I Love’ is new from last time as are ’Lulu’s Back in Town’ and the witty ‘Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone’, but sometimes the old ones are best and it is good to hear the audience joining in ‘Rhode Island is Famous For You’, the Dietz-Schwartz comedy number from the 1948 revue Inside USA which featured outrageous rhymes with as many American states as they could match.
Edelman was amazed that the British so readily knew the names of the states, saying that if the positions had been reversed and there was a song about English counties for a Broadway audience, few Americans would have a clue.
Nor did he neglect the newer generation of songwriters with ‘Time’, a lovely ballad by Barry Kleinbort, sitting particularly well with the American Songbook classics, the more so for coming straight after that exceptional ‘Send in the Clowns’.
An evening of undiluted joy – and even better this time around. Who knows – maybe the musical version of The First Wives Club, which he will be working on shortly in Chicago, will eventually arrive here and West End audiences can belatedly enjoy this special Broadway talent.
Readers may also be interested in:
Interview – Gregg Edelman on his Broadway State of Mind
Maria Friedman – Back to Before – The Pheasantry – Review