Julie Atherton performs at the Crazy Coqs, London until 20 February.
Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩
Making her debut at Crazy Coqs, Julie Atherton comes with an extensive background in musical theatre. She created the roles of Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut in the hit show Avenue Q and has played the lead role of Sophie in Mamma Mia! Outside of the West End she has toured in Fame as well of appearing in many regional productions.
But in this cabaret she eschews trotting out familiar songs from the shows. Instead she chooses to showcase new British talent, which often is denied a West End platform, and to issue a plea for the audience to support the Fringe where new writing in musical theatre does get a chance to be seen and heard.
One such number is ‘Do You Want a Baby Baby’ from The Buskers Opera, Dougal Irvine’s new musical inspired by The Beggar’s Opera which is to be presented at the Park Theatre later in the year. Unfortunately this song along, with several others, suffers from the overpowering accompaniment that Atherton has assembled. In addition to pianist and musical director Michael Bradley, there is a guitarist, percussionist and two backing singers. This line-up would be better suited to a concert platform rather than the intimate space that is the Crazy Coqs. The high octane singing and heavy backing ensures that the lyrics are overpowered and lost.
Craig Adams and Ian Watson’s ‘Lost in Translations’, from their musical Lift, is a quieter number but still full of emotion. As is the song of the aftermath of 9/11 – a girl talks to her lost partner as she prepares to move on – a poignant piece beautifully delivered.
Atherton has a bubbly and cheeky personality and her sense of fun provides some of the evening’s highlights as she turns to humorous numbers. These show off her considerable comedic talent. ‘Portrait of a Princess’ is a glorious spoof of Disney heroines, while ‘Gonna Put a Party Hat On My Cat’ is a delightful response to her mother’s advice not to mention that she lives with two cats when setting up her social profile. In this she was joined by guest artist, Laura Pit-Pulford, who had also accompanied Atherton earlier in a parody of ‘I Don’t Know You’ that arose from their first meeting and the handing over of a can of Gin & Tonic.
Olivier Award winner Katie Brayben (Beautiful – The Carole King Musical), Atherton’s second guest, proved that less is more with her delicious interpretation of ‘Both Sides Now’ with only guitar accompaniment.
The set ends with tracks from Atherton’s CD Rush of Life, including a self-penned song, ‘Whoever You Are’. For an encore she sings a Sara Bareilles number from The Waitress, the musical based on the 2007 film written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, due to open on Broadway in April this year. She jokes that it is to be her audition piece.
More details about Julie Atherton at the Crazy Coqs – HERE.
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