Shoshana Bean at The Singers Lounge, London (future dates are 25/26 September and 2/3 October).
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Girl power ruled Shoshana Bean’s Sunday night musical theatre special at a sold-out Singers Lounge with the effervescent, chutzpah-loaded Broadway star surrounding herself with three of the West End’s finest, Eva Noblezada, Emma Hatton and Natasha Barnes, as top-drawer guests.
Bean, recently rave-reviewed in Boston for her own Fanny Brice, had London’s own Funny Girl, Barnes, up for one of the many magical moments as this star understudy launched into an outstanding ‘She Used to Be Mine’ from current Broadway hit Waitress.
And with Noblezada’s ‘Til I Hear You Sing’ (Love Never Dies) and Hatton’s ‘I’ll Cover You’ (Rent’s best song), both thrillingly delivered, backing up Bean’s stunning versatility and range, musical theatre lovers were in seventh heaven.
Starting with ‘Corner of the Sky’ (from Pippin), the feisty, chatterbox hostess, never short of a good showbiz story, changed pace with a heartfelt ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and the title songs from Sunday in the Park With George and, later, Man of La Mancha.
Two from My Fair Lady – her version of the Professor Higgins classic ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face’ was particularly sweet – were real crowd-pleasers, helped in no small way by Chris Hatt’s eloquent piano.
After Bean had nailed ‘Tomorrow’, which she never got to sing in Annie because she wasn’t cast in it until an adult, and ‘black’ ballads from Porgy and Bess and Once On This Island she wasn’t the right colour for, Hatton was spot-on in Tweeting: “This girl could sing the phone book, right?”
Nothing fazed the good-natured Bean as she took audience requests, coming good with snippets of ‘Popular’, from Wicked, a show with which she is particularly associated, ‘Maria’ (West Side Story), ‘What About Love?’ (The Color Purple) and a bit of Dreamgirls.
‘Still Hurting’ (from The Last 5 Years) received the full treatment and gave this dynamic performer the opportunity to plug celebrated composer Jason Robert Brown’s guest spot in the fifth of her eight-show residency this Sunday, quite a coup for this relative newcomer to the London cabaret scene.
In truth, this younger brother to the Pizza Express’s long-established Pheasantry is even less customer-friendly in layout to that U-shaped room in Chelsea.
With only a small segment of audience able to face the stage, the sound quality is far from ideal for the remainder, nor to have them on each side can it be easy for the performers. But with such a dream cast list and all those wonderful songs from the shows, who cares?