get ready. Cabaret stars Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo say they are going to perform all the hit music from the last 90 years in their new show. Even limiting it to the songs they love would probably force them to bend time and space. But although they miss some classics, they do comply.
This is a firecracker of a set that starts off so loud with a soulful rendition of All That Jazz, you wonder if they can keep it up all night. And then they go even higher. At one point, Woo ends up a naked number on the floor. And that’s only halfway through the concert.
These are not mere karaoke versions. Gateau and Woo are two cults, both full of personality. They’re a natural double act, describing themselves as “the French and Saunders of Drag” and, more topically, “the Harry and Meghan of Drag.”
Gateau, who has performed at venues from Glyndebourne to the Globe, has a spectacular multi-octave voice. Woo, co-owner of The Glory gay pub in Haggerston, has sass, charm and a winning line in bawdy wit, at one point turning Singing in the Rain into an absolute downpour of filth.
There are also incredibly tender moments, usually from Gateau, including a stripped-down rendition of McArthur Park. Grease fans will be delighted by Olivia Newton-John’s content.
The clown is superbly flashy, with interpretive dance and high kick choreography that definitely seems to have taken its cue from the aforementioned French and Saunders rather than the Royal Ballet.
Some songs deliver more directly than others but all of them, well almost all of them, are performed with care and a clear love of the genre. Which does not prevent them from sending it. At one point, Gateau swaggers around in a Little Mermaid costume while Woo plays with a plastic shark head.
The risk is that the songs will be overshadowed by the outfits. But countless costume changes make each song feel special. The highlight is a mega mix of Memory by Cats and My Neck, My Back by Khia with Gateau resembling a giant furball.
Elsewhere, Woo sings in a doll’s outfit that, he touchingly explains in a rare earnest moment, he inherited through a cross-dressing farmer friend. Sitting in my jeans and sweater I have never felt so underdressed. Thankfully, aside from a brief Rocky Horror Show song, audience participation is minimal.
Maybe the duo definition of a musical feels loose, but let’s not be pedantic and make a song and dance about genres. Just go and enjoy a wildly entertaining and occasionally moving show.
soho theaterto January 21; sohoteatro.com