Follow Spot: Proud Cabaret – Sophia Ragavelas and Zoe Curlett
PROUD cabaret in the heart of the city is a return to good old fashioned entertainment with a contemporary feel.
Walking down the mirrored stairwell you feel like you’re entering a hidden mystical location and you’re certainly not disappointed with the luxurious yet understated decor and ambience provided at Proud.
Although slightly late starting the wonderfully vivacious Jess Robinson bounds on stage as our compare extraordinaire. With great presence and energy she soon warms the audience up not only as a personality but with her comedic ‘Who’s In The Hat’ audience participation number! Spoiler alert: we see impersonations of ‘Shirley Bassey’ singing Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, Britney Spears singing ‘HAPPY’ by Pharrell Williams! At this point it’s safe to say the audience is ‘warm’!
Unfortunately the evening takes a slight curve in atmosphere when we are introduced to some of the support acts. Although entertaining Alex Lodge’s numbers were missing a ‘wow’ factor and were at times, pitchy. A young and promising performer that in 10 years time will be comfortable in this intimate venue lacked the audience engagement to command the space. But definitely one to watch . . . .
Francesca Leyland was our next warm up act. A sweet engaging innocent sounding vocal who maybe started with the wrong song (although technically flawlessly) went on to impress. Leyland came into her own with ‘The Little Mermaid’. Although an odd choice in this venue, in the true spirit of cabaret worked wonderfully. A cute, humourus delivery full of character and endearment. I overheard two audience members say she could easily be a ‘Glinda’ in ‘Wicked’ and I would have to agree. Maybe we’ll see her arrive by bubble one day . .
The third warm up act Harry Heart brought cabaret back to its roots. ‘Way Ahead of my Time’ saw a cheeky camp nod to a vaudeville style with rainbow coloured braces and was received with rapturous applause.
A promising first number with good humour lost momentum with his second number ‘Baptise Me’ from ‘Book of Mormon’ which should be a fabulous cabaret number that was poorly delivered due to poor timing and pitchy harmonies.
Throughout this we had been served food by the venue. I feel in love with the idea of a return to dinner theatre whilst being entertained. The beef satays and steak were cooked extremely well and tasted very sumptuous. However it was slightly pricey and more than a handful of us left feeling hungry and went on to eat later.
Post dinner and drinks and three warm acts we had more enlightening and slightly blue words from Jess Robinson followed by a heartfelt and passionate performance from Jordan lee Davis who ‘got us in the mood’ for the main act!
It was at this point that I noticed the band. Truly professional and constantly aware of the mood and atmosphere they ‘jammed’ and worked with the performers to ensure the continuity and quality of the evening was never compromised. All MD’d by the ever in control Simon Pickering with one hand on keys and one conducting whilst maintaining an eye on the act at all times.
The main act didn’t fail to impress. Zoe Curlett opened the set with a raucous number that certainly got the crowd on board.
Sophia Ragavelas went on to own the stage with her own Essex spin on Oklahoma’s ‘I Can’t Say No’ which was extremely well received.
Curlett’s personality shone through her numbers and the duets had strong harmonies and complimented each other vocally with some outstanding moments of musical theatre magic coming through.
A particular highlight for me was Curlett’s Rodgers and Hammerstein medley. This was beautifully delivered with poise and elegance and showed her vast range and flexibility as a performer in comparison to her earlier numbers.
‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’ came next from Ragavelas, this was a big belty number full of sass and character. One of the most beautiful numbers of the evening also came from Ragavelas in the form of a Take That song from the musical ‘Never Forget’. Charged with emotion and with the audience in the palm of her hand, Ragavelas delivered a breathtaking performance.
This female coupling drove a powerhouse performance and were well worth the wait.
The main act of the evening is what cabaret should be, a mixed melting pot of eras and genres delivered with ease and grace by the artists, a true west end experience worthy of five stars. However, due to the structure of the evening I have to downgrade this rating to four stars. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the billed act and possibly earlier in the evening with the support acts interspersed with numbers from the headliners.
Although the location is somewhat out of the way it’s well worth a trip to see Proud Cabaret as it doesn’t fail to deliver and with the cream of London’s west end talent performing you’ll have a wonderful evening of entertainment.
Reviewed by Matthew Wren Andrew