The Phoenix Artist Club (located underneath the Phoenix Theatre) plays host to the Stephen Sondheim Society cabaret nights, a bi-weekly event that sees theatre performers sing a selection of songs.
I went along to the final cabaret for 2016 to see my friend Tim McArthur compare a night of musical theatre songs performed by Laura Armstrong, Jamie Birkett and Hugh O’Donnell.
Part Sondheim, part new writing and part ‘other’, these cabaret shows enable performers to show several different sides of themselves in one evening (it’s like a great musical blind date). Jamie Birkett started the night with a full disclosure announcement that she had picked songs she had never sung before and learnt them all the night before so anything could happen! She came across as extremely likeable and the crowd warmed to her very quickly. Hugh O’Donnell camped up the night with Sing But Don’t Tell by Carner and Gregor and also Roses Turn from Gypsy. He also told a brilliant story about singer/songwriter Scott Alan which I won’t repeat! Laura Armstrong made a welcome return to performing after taking a few years off to have a family.
These Sondheim Society cabaret shows are a brilliant way to bring musical theatre lovers together and the sold out crowd at this final show was testament that we need something like this as a permanent fixture in the West End. The Phoenix Artist Club has a great underground feeling of community and is perfect for these types of shows.
Reviewed by West End Wilma