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BWW Review: JANIE DEE: A NEW LIFE, Crazy Coqs


The West End star takes to the stage with her new cabaret

BWW Review: JANIE DEE: A NEW LIFE, Crazy Coqs BWW Review: JANIE DEE: A NEW LIFE, Crazy Coqs
Sweeping into the Crazy Coqs in a haze of red sequins, Janie Dee took to the stage last night at the intimate (yet socially distanced) cabaret venue to deliver her latest show Janie Dee: A New Life.

Opening to the sound of bird song (which she later revealed she had recorded herself in her garden!), Dee began the evening with a beautiful rendition of the Frank Sinatra classic "Strange Music".

A New Life was an eclectic mix of songs from Dee's long and varied career, peppered with anecdotes about her experiences during lockdown. A wonderful evening crammed with heartfelt renditions of well-known musical theatre songs and standards, humour was also never far away. "Thank you for being here tonight," said Janie, over the introduction to her second song. "Risking your lives!"

Fresh from her performance as Desiree Armfeldt in the concert production of Sondheim's A Little Night Music at Opera Holland Park (which she co-produced with Alex Parker), Dee regaled the audience with an account of how the idea for the concert occurred to her when she was watching her son skateboard in the park. An entertaining run-down of the events surrounding the concert followed, combined with a humorous version of "Singin' in the Rain" (a nod to the "buckets" of rain the audience had to contend with during the concert).

Sensitively chosen songs exploring attitudes towards lockdown and the current state of world affairs followed, including "Another Hundred People/Move On" (Company/Sunday in the Park with George) and a moving rendition of Sting's "All Those Born Under an Angry Star". Dee was joined by her former co-star Ashley Campbell (they worked together on Carousel when Campbell was a child) for her performance of "Move On". Campbell then treated the audience to an emotional rendition of "And The Rain Keeps Falling Down" (Elegies For Angels, Punks and Raging Queens).

Dee handles raw emotion and light-heartedness with equal mastery, and several comedy songs delivered throughout the evening (including a cleverly updated version of the Cole Porter song "The Physician" for our Covid times) were real highlights.

Ever the seasoned star, Dee provided the eager audience at Crazy Coqs with an evening of song and laughter, which was both entertaining and full of hope for the future of live performance. The description of the show reads: "Above all, a celebration of being back together." And it really was just that.

Janie Dee: A New Life at Crazy Coqs until 10 September

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From This Author Laura Fuller