When a uniformed flunkey opened the door to the Brasserie Zedel, just round the corner from Piccadilly Circus, your reviewer was glad to get out of the rain, but didn’t quite know what was in store for him. He was unfamiliar with the star of the one-woman show which would be starting soon below. Going down a long flight of stairs, he descended 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 waitresses hovered around the small tables to take orders for the bar, the audience were treated yesterday evening to a remarkable show.
“You’ve still got it!”, cried one man as the audience rose to their feet at the end of the show. And she has. Lorna Dallas, the American singer and actress, was back in London’s West End, her adopted home, where in the past she has shared the stage with such diverse talents as Cleo Laine and Danny La Rue. Her own talents were very much to the fore in this, her first cabaret in two decades. Her soprano voice has lost none of its power, but that was combined with delicate phrasing and nuanced interpretation of some classics from the Great American Song Book, by the likes of Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Jerome Kern. Some modern American pieces were also included, as well as – rather unexpectedly – three from Ivor Novello.
All these diverse numbers were delivered with great panache, and the singer struck up an excellent rapport with her audience, many of whom appeared to be long-time fans. Equally brilliant, however, was the accompaniment by Jason Carr, who has been accompanying Miss Dallas for 29 years. He is an absolute maestro of the piano, and his arrangements of the songs on last night’s programme were a delight to the ear. Their long friendship and their easy familiarity with each other’s ways make Dallas and Carr an outstanding collaboration.
This music is not “easy listening”, however. It demands the attention of the audience to appreciate its subtleties. It got that attention last night. There is only to be one more show at Zedel, so grab a rare opportunity and catch it if you can on Independence Day!