I love a good opening night gala, and this was one of the best. Hosted by the incomparable stars of the Weimar Room, the Cabaret Fringe gala had it all – feathers and sequins, big voices and tiny costumes, familiar faces and a CabFringe “virgin” or two.
The gala was hosted by Hans (“The Boy Wonder of Berlin”) and the stars of the Weimar Room in their own louche style. How we’ve missed Klaus, Rudi, Greta, Luxe and Fifi. It was worth the ticket price just to see them together again and remember the bad old, good old times.
Bruce Hancock was there, too, tinkling the ivories, alongside John on double bass and Yuri on drums. And Hans’ beloved accordion even made a brief appearance.
For anyone undecided about what to see this year, the gala was a delightful taster of what’s on offer. And, in true entrepreneurial style, tickets were on sale for all the shows previewed.
The first CabFringe act onstage was Marduk Flamenco: “I love anything a little ethnic,” said Hans.
Each act had only one song with which to strut their stuff, but still the show stretched to a generous three hours. They were too many to mention, but a few highlights were: Sophia MacRae and John Bienvenue with Sounds Like a Story (MacRae is also doing When You’re Smiling); Cab Fringe “virgin” Tahlia Ries in To Diva or Not to Diva – she knows how to handle a song; and Candy Chambers, star of 50 Forever, who was divine in sparkles and the most astonishing red bouffant.
There were salad greens, too, for throwing at the stage. Poor Rudi could only mutter: “I prefer living in ignorance and eating my celery.”
So many cabaret fans packed the German Club that those at the back were “sitting in a different postcode”. Frank Ford, arts champion and Fringe Festival founder, happily stepped onstage for a little audience participation, and Zac was a willing victim for Hans’ naughtiness.
Unfortunately, the evening was plagued with technical hitches that repeatedly left the performers stranded on stage with no sound. Apart from that, it was a brilliant night in a quaint and quirky venue.
You’ve missed the gala, but Hans has his own show at the German Club on June 26 (almost sold out, so be quick!) and the brilliant Catherine Campbell (Greta) is in Food Court Cabaret at La Boheme from June 12. Enjoy!
The Cabaret Fringe Festival continues until June 28. The full program is online.
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