Beige Recommends: Janie Dee at Crazy Coqs
The new season at London’s most exquisite cabaret venue, The Crazy Coqs, got off to a flying start this month. After Barb Jungr’s terrific sell out week and Miss Hope Springs’ packed out new Parisian style Sunday show, we were delighted to see Janie Dee make her début on the Art Deco stage.
Miss Dee has been famous for her work in musicals and drama for many years. She never stops. After a recent great success in Noises Off at the Old Vic, she put on her Sunday clothes, boarded a train to Leicester and starred in Hello Dolly. That show finished on Saturday. Three days later she launched her brand new cabaret show at the Crazy Coqs by singing Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll three inches away from my right shoulder as she walked through the crowded room. Her energy is incredible.
Cabaret can be a difficult place as an actor is exposed with no role to inhabit. But Janie pulls it off through sheer vivacious charm. We instantly warm to her. She has cleverly chosen a wide and varied selection of songs, including standards Misty, Come Rain Or Come Shine and a few obscurities, alongside Yes, the Kander and Ebb paean to positivity made famous by Liza, and Touch Me In The Morning, which Miss Dee candidly informs us she once sang in a nearby hostess club during her early days.
There are also moments of theatricality in show, as Miss Dee incorporates characterization into the songs. The most successful is her attempt at androgyny. She slowly undresses, stripping from her black Satin doll evening gown, down to a skin tight leotard covering her incredibly slender body. She then dons a white tailored shirt, sharp black suit, bow tie and trilby, before puffing on a cigar and singing a wonderfully moody version of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. It’s very Victor-Victoria.
Her vocal delivery is flawless, as crisp and bright as the evening shirt she wears to close the show, which she does with a rousing version of So Long Dearie from Hello Dolly. It’s a great fun evening and the perfect escape from the cold winter nights. With Janie Dee this week, Lorna Luft next, and Miss Hope Springs, like cream cheese, sandwiched in between, the Crazy Coqs is already an unmissable stop on the cabaret circuit this year.
Until Saturday 26 January.
20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED
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