You’ll be hard pressed to find a more charismatic duo at Fringe than Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo.
Fringe World favourite Le Gateau Chocolat (a Laurence Olivier award winning powerhouse of a performer who has recently wrapped up a season working with The National Theatre on The Threepenny Opera) and Jonny Woo (a drag, comedy, fashion and media superstar) have teamed up for A Night at the Musicals – a wonderful, funny and at times touching tribute to all of the best musical theatre numbers.
Chocolat and Jonny have an undeniable chemistry and their energies work so well together, as they bounce from serious to ridiculous and back again, strutting their way through an impressive repertoire of musical hits, changing the lyrics as they see fit as they joke that this show is “where musical theatre goes to die”.
The night was peppered with cutting yet good-natured barbs directed both at each other and on occasion at the audience, as the duo touched on important social issues all the while reminding us that all it really takes to be human is a bit of empathy and compassion.
Le Gateau Chocolat could easily have stolen the show with his incredible voice. If you’ve never heard him sing before, all I can do is tell you it that you MUST, because nothing I can say can truly prepare you for just how amazing he is. Chocolat’s voice is rich, beautiful and deeply moving. From the profound baritones to catchy higher notes, when he sings it in turn stuns you to silence and gets you dancing along. With an incredible stage presence, a persona that he owns in all its fabulousness, a knack for knowing just when to add in a comedic element and amazing costumes to boot, believe me when I say you will not want to look away.
As I said, Chocolat could easily have stolen the show had he been paired with anyone other than the wonderful Jonny Woo, who more the managed to hold his own. Hilariously self-deprecating with a face that can portray a thousand emotions, Jonny’s star shone bright as he dazzled his way through At the End of the Day (Les Miserables) using just one item of clothing and his incredible characterisations. Not to be outdone by any of Chocolat’s solo numbers, Jonny absolutely nailed Cabaret’s Mein Herr, complete with fishnets, giant Mickey Mouse hands and an audience member who was more than happy to let him get up close and personal.
No song was safe in this celebration and desecration of all that is holy in the musical theatre world, as the duo made good on their promise to “Les Misermassacre” all the musicals you know and love. From Phantom of the Opera and The Little Shop of Horrors to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, no song is safe – and let me just say that if it was Le Gateau Chocolat’s voice belting out Let it Go (Frozen) then parents wouldn’t have gotten sick of that movie quite so quickly. Branded by Jonny as “the gayest moment at Fringe”, their theatrical version of this new classic was just amazing.
Their three-part tribute to Grease was a fitting end to the night – Johnny performed a spirited and dirty rendition of Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee, Chocolat belted out the classic Hopelessly Devoted To You, and then the two joined up for Summer Nights like you’ve never heard before, as the audience sung along and brought down the house with applause.
Whether you’re an avid fan of musicals or have steadfastly avoided them at every opportunity, this show still has something for everyone. Thanks to the widespread nature of pop culture you’ll recognise some of the songs, while the showmanship will be strong enough to carry you through the ones you don’t know.
A Night at the Musicals was mesmerising and magical, a playful and silly yet inspired ode to the wonderful and wacky world of musical theatre and a true testament to the power of self-expression, whatever its form.
Tonight’s performance has already sold out, but if you get in quick you might be able to catch the last two shows on Sunday and Money night, at the De Parel Spiegeltent at Fringe Central.
*I received tickets to this show in exchange for my review (thanks Fringe World Festival). All opinions are my own.