Linzi Hateley continues at the Crazy Coqs, London until 21 January.
Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Linzi Hateley opens and closes her cabaret with ‘True Colours’, perhaps a metaphor for her act which looks back on her life and her 28 years on the stage.
Inevitably her starting point was playing, at 17, the title role in the RSC’s ill-fated musical version of Stephen King’s Carrie. It flopped big time both here and on Broadway and has since entered into the annals of theatre history. A subsequent book of spectacular failures is entitled Not Since Carrie.
Recently a new production of the musical was well received at the Southwark Playhouse, and listening to the title song and the heart-wrenching ‘When There’s No One’ suggests that the musical itself is not so bad, perhaps the staging and production gimmicks doomed the show. An amusing anecdote regarding the “blood scene” suggests the latter. Later in her set the actress and singer plays musical tribute to Barbara Cook and Betty Buckley – her ‘Mother’ in Stratford and on Broadway.
At least the show drew Cameron Mackintosh’s attention to her, for she was offered the part in 1988 of Eponine in Les Misérables, a show that she returned to later as Madame Thenardier. These references allow her to interweave ‘Out Here On My Own’ with ‘On My Own’.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium followed next where she played the Narrator.
Hateley is a great ballad singer and interpreter. Two highlights for me being her versions of Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Stars and the Moon’ and ‘Meadowlark’ from The Baker’s Wife.
When putting her act together there was a suggestion that she include references to her relationships – an idea that she declined. As a compromise, she does include a wistful number, ‘Nothing Really Happened’.
A surprise guest, Katie Brayben, former star of the Carole King musical Beautiful, delivers along with Hateley, a scorching version of ‘You’ve Got a Friend’.
‘You’ll Always Be My Baby’ and ‘Hold On’ are dedicated to Hateley’s daughter Meg who then joins her mother on stage for a lively duet – ‘Here Comes the Sun’.
In the run-up to the finale Hateley is reunited with three other shows that she starred in. From Chicago she successfully manages to interweave ‘Roxie’ with ‘Sooner or Later’ and ‘The Man That Got Away’. Having just finished touring in Barnum, it is appropriate to include ‘The Colours of My Life’. In contrast to the gentle ballads that pepper her act, she lets rip with a couple of numbers from Mamma Mia!
Not only proving herself as an accomplished singer, the evening reveals that she is an amusing raconteur. Her easy and at times conspiratorial delivery draws the audience to her.
There is excellent piano accompaniment from Marcus Savage, her musical director.