Review by Daz Gale
As they celebrate their 50th and 40th birthdays respectively, the self-proclaimed “French and Saunders (or Harry and Meghan) of Drag” Jonny Woo and Le Gateau Chocolat have teamed up to celebrate all things musical theatre with the promise to perform every single musical hit from the past 90 years… in one hour. Sounded like heaven for a lover of musical theatre, right? At the very least, I just hoped it wasn’t a Drag.
From the moment both performers strutted on to the stage wearing oversized Mickey Mouse hands while performing ‘All That Jazz’ from Chicago, the tone for the evening was set. As Jonny Woo and Le Gateau Chocolat informed us early on, we were to expect more Pussy than Cats and less Dreamgirls and more “Nightmare Sluts of Soho”. And they certainly lived up to their promise.
What followed was a series of homages to past musical theatre numbers, sometimes left intact, other times adapted to feature new innuendo-filled lyrics. Numbers from The Sound Of Music and Sweet Charity were among those on offer, while a very strange ‘Rain’ medley saw a variety of numbers performed in rather unique outfits. The consistency of the night was how hilarious the whole thing was, with impeccable precision for comic timing in a show that was so slick, the shenanigans always came across as spontaneous.
This was musical theatre as you’d never seen it before. Le Gateau Chocolat delivering a sensitive performance of 'Memory’' from Cats only to segue straight into Khia’s ‘My Neck, My Back’ (think of the next line to understand the connection) just to go back to ‘Memory’ as if nothing had happened was one of the weirdest and unexpectedly hilarious things I have ever seen related to Andrew Lloyd Webber… and I’ve seen (Bad) Cinderella.
Jonny Woo had several highlights of the night, lip-syncing to ‘Some People’ from Gypsy and ending up on stage wearing nothing but a smile in a brilliant piece of performance art. He also managed to upstage Le Gateau Chocolat’s ‘Part Of Your World’ with a fleeting cameo as a shark, while his performance of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ (with some hilarious lyric changes) was an undoubted standout.
One surprising but refreshing moment in the show came in a stripped back, raw and emotional performance of ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ performed by Le Gateau Chocolat as a tribute to the late Olivia Newton John. While some members of the audience may have been waiting for the punchline, this was a beautiful touch in a show that was predominantly unashamedly silly and allowed some depth to the affair… though the overarching tone was immediately restored when Jonny Woo bounded on to the stage with his own very different tribute to Olivia.
Through all the silliness of the evening, one thing remained very clear – this was a remarkably talented pair of individuals. Both Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo have fantastic voices which were befitting of the iconic numbers they were performing. The talent doesn’t stop with their vocals though with both performers showing a flawless knack for comedy, both in how they say their jokes and the physicality of it, creating a consistently and effortlessly funny show.
While not every single musical theatre number was covered here, they certainly gave it a good go in a show that lived up to its promise to give you a fun night while honouring all things musical theatre. With an array of glittering costumes and ingenious use of props, A Night At The Musicals is a fun, feelgood and carefree show that manages to showcase the best of Drag, Cabaret and musical theatre in a fabulous combination. With two performers at the top of their game, this is one not to be missed.
Jonny Woo & Le Gateau Chocolat – A Night At The Musicals plays at Soho Theatre until 21st January. Tickets from https://sohotheatre.com/
Photos by Shazad Khalid