Let’s Do It! – Tiffany Graves at the Crazy Coqs, London (also on 18 April).
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
West End leading lady Tiffany Graves switches effortlessly and bewitchingly from the world of musical theatre to the very different art of cabaret in this multi-layered confection and those who have tickets for next Monday’s sell-out repeat are in for a treat.
From the moment this powerhouse blonde slides into the teasing ‘When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It’ with a great sense of fun – she’s been playing Ulla on The Producers tour – the audience know they’re in for a good time.
Whether they’re showstoppers from shows she’s performed in around the UK like The Witches of Eastwick, Kiss Me, Kate and Anything Goes, a new spin on old pop, or the enduring beauty of ‘A Quiet Thing’, the star turn of a Kander and Ebb medley, she invests all with her own magic.
Her ‘I Know Him So Well’ from Chess (with arranger and accompanist Leigh Thompson doing the Barbara Dickson bits) is a real crowd-pleaser and Graves tailors her show to the moment, injecting a topical reference to David Cameron and his tax problem into the show’s title song.
Graves and Thompson have clearly invested much time and thought into coming up with something different and that gives the evening its unique cabaret appeal.
‘Zip’ (from Pal Joey) has been updated to ‘Tweet’ and the joys of Twitter, and ‘Another Night At Darryl’s’ (from The Witches of Eastwick) becomes ‘Another Night At Zedel’s’, namechecking the same-ownership brasserie next door.
And with the Eurovision Song Contest just a few weeks away, there’s a timely reminder of the good old days when the United Kingdom entry didn’t worry about finishing last.
A medley of our five winners – come on, you must remember ‘Boom Bang-a-Bang’, ‘Puppet On a String’, ‘Making Your Mind Up’, ‘Save Your Kisses For Me’ and ‘Love Shine a Light’ – is the plan but somehow the Brotherhood of Man number went missing. It will return next week!
A jazz-inflected mash-up of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’’ with the Kylie classic ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ is different and a guest spot from the dashing Ashley Day, Graves’ co-star in the Opera North tour of Kiss Me, Kate, absolutely no hardship.
But for me, as a massive Nancy LaMott fan, the best moment comes with her encore, a second tribute of the evening to this true great of New York cabaret who left us far too soon at just 43. LaMott, she says, is her all-time favourite and inspiration.
There could hardly have been a dry eye in the room after the unashamedly sentimental ‘I’ll Be Here For You’, one of the last of many David Friedman wrote for wonderful LaMott in the 1990s.
Graves’ interpretation is every bit as good as the LaMott version. There is no higher compliment than that.
An expressive actress and comedienne as well as a room-shaking vocalist – now and again she overdoes the power for such a small space – the versatile Graves makes full use of all her talents.
‘When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It’ she sings at the start. She does just that during a thoroughly likeable evening.
Readers may also be interested in:
Interview – Tiffany Graves having a gigglefest on tour with The Producers