Black Cat, burlesque, cabaret, Cafe Royal Hotel, Ceil Chapman, champagne, costumes, Duncan Walsh Atkins, Dusty Limits, Frisky & Mannish, Lili la Scala, London, Marcella Puppini, Michael Roulston, music, Nicola Enigma, Oscar Wilde Bar, Salon des Artistes, Sarah Louise Young, Singer, Tattinger, the Black Cat Cabaret, variety
Now I know I have written about the Black Cat Cabaret before, but there has been an evolution for this kitten. After slipping away from the gaudy Cafe de Paris last year, the Black Cat has been rehomed by the gorgeous Cafe Royal Hotel, in the historic Oscar Wilde Bar (formally the Grill Room). The room is an extravaganza of gold leaf and mirrors with a baby grand piano in its centre and it is there where we set our stage.
As a singer, it is always a treat to be given the chance to interpret lesser known gems and as a regular attendee of the ‘Salon’ I get the chance to sing songs that would normally see the light of stage in a more conventional recital, as well as interpretations of other favourite songs of mine that I have hoarded in my collection. In many cabaret clubs we all slip into our comfortable staples, (normally those songs for which we can find the backing tracks) but the joy and delight of the ‘Salon des Artistes’ is the addition of the musicians; and what musicians they are! We are regularly graced by Michael Roulston, Nicola Enigma, Duncan Walsh Atkins and fabulous bass players like Tom Mansi. They enable us singers to perform music which is not normally found loitering around in other cabaret haunts.
We have also been lucky enough to have had some of the world’s top cabaret singers through the doors of the ‘Salon’ including Frisky (of Frisky and Mannish fame) is a regular and so is the amazing ‘La Poule Plombée’ with her carer, West End star Sarah-Louise Young. Lady Rizo stopped by when she was in town, Ali McGregor came along (avec enfant), Marcella Puppini (the founding Puppini Sister) and even Alfie Boe, (OK, he may not have sung a song, but he definitely was in the room – we’ll get him next time!)
Dusty Limits is the compere and director, although yours truly steps in on occasion. Otherwise, I get the chance to pull more unusual songs from my repertoire, soak them liberally in Tattinger (pink Tatty on occasion) and unleash them on our intimate and adoring audience. At the moment, I’m enjoying Lizst and Léhar as well as a little Radiohead. I’m contemplating some Mozart and some Poulenc for later in the year. Add to the mix, the muse – a gilded Vicky Butterfly, a devastating hand balancer, (you can count Reuben Kuan and Sammy Dineen amongst our guests!), resident danseurs ‘Cabaret Rouge’ and the best looking bar keeps in town (do make sure to look out for the heart-achingly gorgeous Tiago – Dusty’s particular favourite – although Tiago himself prefers a little Lili in his life, I’m sure!)
If you haven’t yet had the chance to come along to the ‘Salon des Artistes’, I suggest you unleash your inner artist, dress elegantly, slip through our door and wallow in the champagne-soaked decadence of our stunning home. It is a privilege to perform in such splendour and you’ll feel equally as astounded as the performers envelope you in their demi-monde of Parisian chic right in the heart of Piccadilly. I thought I’d leave you with a scattering of my favourite pictures taken by Clive Holland, one of modern cabaret’s greatest supporters.
And once you have finished gazing in wonder at the pictures, maybe you should stop by here and buy a ticket, go on, we’d love to see you.