Goodbye Café de Paris, hello Café Royal. How does the Black Cat Cabaret fare in its new residency? Toby Boon investigates.
After almost a year packing out the Friday night slot at the Café de Paris, the Black Cat Cabaret moved in December to its new abode. The Grill Room at Café Royal is a dramatic space – gilded mirrors and painted ceilings are dripping with heritage and utterly over-the-top. But when the lights go down and the Champagne starts to lubricate the senses, the room is intimate enough to make it an ideal setting for Black Cat Cabaret’s new residency and its show Salon des Artistes.
Warming up a midweek crowd can be tricky and, at first, Marcel Lucont‘s louche lounge lizard struggles to find a connection. The thaw comes quickly however, as the wit behind the arrogant Gallic cliché hits its mark. By the time he recites his ode to the hirsute – a tribute to the manly man – he has achieved the kind of entente cordiale that diplomats only dream of.
Lucont’s laid-back pace sits well as a counter-balance to the rest of the Salon’s bill. Slick, classy performances from singer Marcella Puppini and handbalancer Sammy Dinneen set the tone. Both acts are bursting with their own distinctive brand of sex appeal and Dinneen’s upside-down, one-handed striptease is worth the ticket price alone.
With costume and make-up as subtle as The Grill Room’s décor, Reuben Kaye makes a big impact. In fact, everything about the Australian singer and comedian is big: the voice, the stage presence, the repertoire of classic pop twisted into dark, achingly funny torch-songs. Even throwing in an unscheduled encore, Kaye leaves the audience hungry for more. Vicky Butterfly brings the live performance to a close in a whirl of gold lamé and her trademark ethereal burlesque, before a DJ sees the evening out. This is cabaret with first class comforts and whilst there might be some who prefer things to have a little more edge, Salon des Artistes is a welcome addition to the scene.
Words by Toby Boon.
The Black Cat Presents Salon des Artistes. Café Royal Hotel, 68 Regent Street London W1B 4DY. Wednesday/Friday 19.00. £25-£35 (£65 with dinner) www.blackcat.info