Wednesday 29 July 2015

Anne Reid and Stefan Bednarczyk in Cabaret - Review

The Pheasantry, London


Anne Reid and Stefan Bednarczyk

Currently in cabaret at London’s The Pheasantry, Anne Reid and Stefan Bednarczyk offer a songlist devoted to the Broadway/Hollywood writing partnership of Betty Comden and Adolf Green.

Most famous perhaps for the story and screenplay of Singin' In The Rain (though incredibly their only contribution to that movie’s musical numbers was Moses Supposes) the Comden & Green partnership was to last the best part of 60 years, going on to include On The Town and Wonderful Town amongst a string of successes.

Reid and Bednarczyk are as enlightening as they are enchanting with a shared respect for Comden & Green that is infectiously appealing. Together, these talented performers bring a masterful combination of humour and pathos to a selection of numbers that reflect some of the best of the American Songbook.

The set includes not only classics such as I’m So Lucky To Be Me and Just In Time, but also the less well known works such as Talking To Yourself from The Hallelujah Chorus, Reid imbuing the song with a blend of power, hope and inspiration. Bednarczyk’s piano work was divine – but his vocals were magnificent too. A touching take on The Story Of My Life, suggested as possibly being an autobiographical reflection from Green looking back on an impoverished and abused childhood was heart-rending, whilst the satirical Capital Gains proved as topical today as when written some 50 years ago.

Don Black has spoken (here) of Reid’s remarkable cabaret persona. As a raconteur she’s amongst our finest and when she talks of having stage managed Margaret Lockwood, or her excitement at having met both meeting Comden & Green along with the occasional reference to Derek Jacobi, one could listen to her Geordie cum Weatherfield brogue all night. 

As Reid recounted how she first met Benarczyk in the south of France, I was reminded of her Mme Armfeldt’s reminiscent Liaisons in a recent A Little Night Music, whilst a further wistful observation, as to how beautiful it must be to both sing and fly (a reference to a Peter Pan production she was following whilst on a UK touring circuit) made me speculate what a fantastic Berthe she might make should Broadway’s recent Pippin ever cross the pond!

Reid and Bednarczyk encored with a number probably made most famous by Jimmy Durante, Make Someone Happy, a deliriously poignant yet also profoundly uplifting melody. The moment, along with the evening was perfect – for in a packed Chelsea basement these two diamonds of the cabaret scene had, in fact, made everyone happy.

In residence until Friday 31st July

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