When a uniformed flunkey opens the door to the Brasserie Zedel, just round the corner from Piccadilly Circus, you may think you are stepping into a pricey eaterie. Well, you are, but go down the long flight of stairs and you descend into a plush atrium from which several doorways beckon. One of these leads into the equally plush Crazy Coqs, a cabaret venue of renown. While discreet waiters hovered around the small tables to take orders for the bar, the audience were treated yesterday evening to a remarkable show.
Liza Pulman is the third and youngest member of Fascinating Aida, a trio of musical comediennes who have been charming audiences since the 1980s. Miss Pulman was trained as an opera singer at the Guildhall School of Music, and that was a great foundation for the very different style which she has since perfected. Her current tour features a selection from the compendious oeuvre of Barbra Streisand, ranging widely from hits like Second-Hand Rose to less well-known numbers, like her rendition of Paul McCartney’s Honey Pie (from the White Album). The blurb in the Live at Zedel programme describes Miss Pulman as “a magnificently talented singer and a marvellously quick-witted comedienne”, and you reviewer will unashamedly borrow that description, for both those talents were on ample display last night. With her on-the-button repartee, Miss Pulman struck up a great rapport with the audience, who were clamouring for more at the end.
Equally outstanding, however, was the musicianship of the six-piece Stardust Ensemble, a combo comprising drums, bass (double and electric), guitar, trumpet, saxophone (and other assorted blowing instruments), all under the musical direction of the pianist (and at one stage, accordion-player), Joe Atkins. He it was who devised what the blurb calls the “glorious new arrangements and orchestrations” of the Streisand songs. “Glorious” is the word, both for the arrangements and for the way they were performed by these stupendous musicians.
The show is returning to the Crazy Coqs for two more dates, but is also going on tour to exotic locations like Didcot. You can find out where these are by looking up Miss Pulman’s website. Catch the show if you can!