BWW Interviews: Denise Black About Her Forthcoming Cabarets!

TV actress, celebrity masterchef, and cabaret singer - Denise Black is a woman of many talents.

She's also a woman of seemingly boundless energy: yesterday she spent the day filming for Emmerdale before heading off to see a movie as part of her duties on the judging panel for BAFTA ("Yes, I just bumped into Kate Winslet!" she laughs) and then getting up early to begin rehearsals for her forthcoming cabaret at the Pheasantry, 'The Birth of the Musical'.

She's working alongside Graeme Taylor, perhaps better known as the MD of War Horse, and Paul Sand, who is writing original material for the show, which Black describes as "genuine, truthful to the period, in a style that feels redolent."

The concept of the show is to highlight the development of the movie musical as the vaudevillian entertainers migrated to Hollywood in the 1930s after the Wall Street Crash - "a big melting pot of immigration", as Black describes it.

The evening's songlist includes the works of Cole Porter, the Gershwins and Dorothy Fields as well as unattributed standards.

"We're having such a jolly time!" enthuses Black. "We've got some original patter songs - so there's one about Irving Berlin falling in love, which leads into performing songs that he wrote. There's lots of humour, there's a tribute to Fred and Ginger, there's Jolson - these are just the great days of the wordsmiths."

Black is clearly a genuine fan of vaudeville and variety - and she thinks that comes from her own early experiences in showbusiness.

"I wanted to be an actress but didn't know anybody, so moving into theatre was nightmare," she explains. "I ended up in cabaret, lying on top of a piano singing for people like Janet Street Porter, who I recently did Celebrity Masterchef with; I did a residency in Maida Vale, and this is how I earnt my bread and butter for years, through this alternative cabaret world, and the school of hard knocks.

"That's why I like vaudeville - they throw things or boo you if they don't like you, so you have to work, nothing comes for free! I feel like I came through variety - and I love the energy that comes out of it."

Denise Black performs 'The Birth of the Musical' at the Pheasantry on Tuesday November 12.


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