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John Yap

Review: LORNA DALLAS : STAGES at The Crazy Coqs, Live at Zedel

Lorna Dallas With her distinctive voice and style, Lorna Dallas brought her acclaimed cabaret, STAGES, back to London after the sold out performances at the Birdland Theatre in New York and earlier in the year at The Crazy Coqs. 

Lorna together with her collaborator, Barry Kleinbort, selected some great Musical Theatre songs and devised a programme that is both entertaining and informative, not only on Lorna’s life experiences but also on the array of wonderful Musical songs. Barry Kleinbort is an American writer, composer, lyricist and director extraordinaire. Lorna was born in the little town of Carrier Mills, Illinois, USA and came to London in the ‘70’s to star as Magnolia in the West End revival of SHOW BOAT. She married Gary Brown and stayed on in London. Since then she has graced the London stages in various Musicals, most notably KISMET and THE KING AND I.

The title STAGES serves a double meaning in that it is about the stages of Lorna’s life as well as the stages of the Musical Theatre. This gives Lorna the opportunity to graft her life’s stories to the songs from the Musicals. Every song is preceded by a story of a stage in her life. The considered selection of some familiar and some less familiar songs from the Musicals helps to engage the audiences’ interests for the whole cabaret (about 90 minutes). This combination of story and song results in a most entertaining and informative evening.

Lorna tells a humorous story about her visit to New Orleans and a surprise encounter with a madam named Fanny Mae Goldman. When Lorna told her that she loved performing so much that she would sing for free, Fanny Mae immediately retorted that Lorna should never “Give Anything Away”. This gives Lorna the opportunity to sing “Never Give Anything Away” a lesser know song from Cole Porter’s Musical CAN CAN

Lorna serves up a hilarious rendition of “Stranger In Paradise” from KISMET in which she sings three different versions of the song at the same time. She tells that when she was appearing in the London revival of KISMET, she was engaged to appear in a nightclub act at the Savoy Hotel after the theatre performance. She had to rush from the theatre to the nightclub and sing a popular version of the song in her cabaret act. Meanwhile, she was also signed to appear in a TV program in Germany and had to sing the song in German, hence the “Three in One” rendition. 

Lorna recalls another story in which she gave up the opportunity to appear on Broadway with Yul Brynner in THE KING AND I in order to stay on in London because she met and fell in love with her future husband. This was a cue for Lorna to sing “Hello Young Lovers” from THE KING AND I, a song that she sang at the Royal Command Performance for the Queen Mother and her husband loved the song. Whilst Lorna sings sweetly and emotionally throughout the evening, Simon Beck, the Musical Director, accompanies beautifully and musically on the Piano. 

Familiar songs such as There’s No Business Like Show Business, Blues In The Night, Over The Rainbow, My Dearest Dear and unfamiliar songs such as Empty (cut from MINNIE’S BOY’S), I Wish It So (from JUNO), If All The World’s A Stage (from CAN HEIRONYMUS MERKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS?) and Was (from the new Musical WAS written by Barry Kleinbort) are some of the songs that Lorna sings in the cabaret. 

If you want to treat yourself to an evening of entertainment and enlightenment, LORNA DALLAS “STAGES” is the cabaret for you. There is another performance on November 5 2019 at the Crazy Coqs, Live at Zedel.