Words by Sarah Ison
The lights hadn’t even been switched on as the audience in the Spiegeltent began their high-pitched cheers. They needn’t be, for the silhouette appearing on stage was undeniable. Huge hair, ballooning curves and a dress that still managed to sparkle in the dimness; La Gateau Chocolat had graced us with his presence.
It was of course a single, vivid spotlight that washed over the stage as the chords of an organ rang out a familiar tune. The Phantom of the Opera was an aptly dramatic start to the show and Gateau milked every second, swishing across the stage in his golden mermaid dress, red wig bouncing as he strutted towards the audience. As always, the sassy queen made no secret of the depths of his baritone voice, booming out the low bass notes proudly across the rapt crowd.
The switch from deep voiced opera singer to flamboyant diva was astonishing, and the audience was kept in this amusing state of whiplash throughout the entire show. Gateau’s character could be as quickly changing as his costumes, and it is exactly this that makes him such a wonderful solo performer. However Gateau was not alone in this particular show, with supporting drag queen Jonny Woo joining our favorite chocolate diva on stage throughout.
While both individually very talented, moments of dramatic or musical cohesion between the two Queens were few and far between.
Attempted harmonies were unfortunately near misses for the duet on most occasions, and the banter between songs didn’t feel quite authentic. Thankfully, Gateau’s solo performances continually redeemed moments of flatness on stage. Not to say that Woo was a weak link. In fact, given his own solos, Woo demonstrated extraordinary dancing and acting capability, otherwise unseen next to Gateau.
It became increasingly frustrating however, when the two came together again on stage, with each shining less brightly in an attempt to compliment one another.
While lacking the same polish and caliber of Gateau’s past solo shows, A Night at the Musicals still succeeded in bringing together a remarkable blend of theatre, music and cabaret. Caught halfway between a homage and a parody of our favourite show tunes, this show was full of originality and cheek.