Cabaret stars give a worthy cause a helping hand at next weekend’s The Big Mix festival.

Ed Gosling of Chivaree Circus will be appearing as part of a bill of circus, burlesque and music.

Ed Gosling of Chivaree Circus will be appearing as part of a bill of circus, burlesque and music.

Running over the weekend of 1-2 June and split across six venues in Shoreditch, The Big Mix returns for its fifth year with a heavenly blend of live entertainment. On offer at the urban festival will be music, comedy, cabaret, a vintage dance night, musical bingo and, intriguingly, a treasure hunt with all proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support.

As with last year’s Big Mix, the Book Club on Leonard Street will see a dazzling variety of cabaret. Bringing the big tent atmosphere to the venue will be Chivaree Circus with their juggling and hula
hoop performances as well as clowning and magic from Magi and comedy from the tutu-touting Madame Galina.

Expect a tornado of tassels from international starlet Sukki Singapora and the Iron Lady of burlesque Honey Wilde plus Lady Catalina, Harlow Heartbreak and Miss Cherry on Fire. On the music front, ex-Dexy’s Midnight Runners Pete Saunders will be tickling the ivories and there will be opera from tenor Adam Music.

We spoke to compère Lady Beau Peep about the festival.

Give us your best introduction. Who is Lady Beau Peep? What do you do and what are you working on at the moment?

Lady Beau Peep is something of a diva who sings popular songs with a jazz twist, often with Pete Saunders – a brilliant blues pianist. She incorporates a burlesque style which involves having a
laugh with the audience, sometimes getting a bit cheeky through the medium of song and chat. She can also be found hosting and produces her own cabaret/burlesque shows usually with a variety of multi-skilled performers.

How did you get into Burlesque?

I trained as an actress and singer then performed in musicals, plays and in a jazz duo before singing on cruise ships for a few years. On my return, I was delighted to discover burlesque was making a resurgence. I loved the burlesque-style movies like Cabaret and the origin of burlesque was theatrical entertainment, mainly dance and song, in the form of ribald humour and immodestly dressed women. I thought “I can relate to that!”

With my admiration for those notable burlesque stars from beginning of the last century, my passion for jazz songs as well as comedy and glamour meant that being a burlesque artist was just a natural fit. Seven years ago, my agent put me up for a burlesque gig at Shoreditch Town Hall, the gig went well and so Lady Beau Peep was born.

Who in the cabaret scene do you most admire?

I think the performers I most admire are clever and make me laugh. Some of the amazing performers I have had the pleasure to work with are Audacity Chutzpah who is incredibly inventive and funny, her one woman show Waiting For Stanley is genius. I love Ginger Blush – very clever and witty burlesque and Shirley Windmill for her brilliant slapstick music hall numbers. Vicious Delicious for her sardonic wit and Ivy Paige who is similar to me in the fact she hosts, sings and produces – she is fantastic too.

You’ve been involved with the Big Mix festival for 2 years now, how and why did you first start working on it?

I was very pleased to be asked back this year to help create the cabaret programme as it is for a great cause that is close to my heart. I was artistic director at The Brickhouse last year, site of The Big Mix 2012 Festival. They asked me if I would like to do the programme, so of course I jumped at the chance.

Who are the driving forces behind the festival?

They are a committed bunch of volunteers from a mix of backgrounds – some of them work in the music industry, some in PR and some from Macmillan. All of them are driven by the freshest music,venues and entertainment, and – of course – raising money for people affected by cancer. I am personally working on the project with the gorgeous Mia Robertson who is an events manager.

Let’s assume you’re horribly biased but what’s special about the festival? Why would you recommend it to people reading This Is Cabaret?

Well, in essence if you buy a wristband you get a weekend of fabulous entertainment. The Big Mix is setting up camp in BOXPARK, where you can do some discount shopping, dust off your dancing
shoes, listen to some music and get fed and watered on the Saturday. This is followed by a chilled out Sunday of award winning comedy, burlesque and film. That’s where we come in with a burlesque and cabaret show on Sunday 2 June at The Book Club between 7pm–10 pm. The show includes a fantastic mix of circus, comedy, burlesque and live music, some of the brilliant artists include Madame Galina, Ginger Blush, Chivaree Circus and Pete Saunders on piano. And, of course, I will be hosting.

Lastly for anyone reading this who might want to buy you a drink at the festival. Do you prefer a pint, a cocktail or a glass of wine?

Wine is always my poison, white, or rosé as it is summer. A cheeky cocktail makes for a lovely alternative, but I never drink beer – a lady doesn’t do pints!

All the information on next weekend’s The Big Mix can be found on the official website. Donations to Macmillan Cancer Support can be made directly here.