Pros: Both Harold and Anita are incredibly talented, with voices that can transport you and evoke strong emotions.
Cons: There were a few slip ups by the pair, but as Harold said, “Hey, it’s cabaret!”
You won’t find a grander entrance to a Pizza Express in London than the entrance to the King’s Road branch. With ornate pillars and statues adorning the front you’d be forgiven for thinking you were entering a gallery, not a pizza restaurant! However this branch has an extra surprise, the wonderful Pheasantry cabaret room located in the basement. Pizza Express, in its jazz clubs, has launched the career of many an artist, including the wonderful Jamie Cullum, and its programme of jazz and cabaret evenings is really well worth a look.
Harold and Broad is a heart-warming cabaret show, in which Harold Sanditen and Anita Gillette celebrate two milestone birthdays: a sixtieth and eightieth respectively. The show features songs from both their birth years, as well as reflections on key moments in their lives. As someone who grew up watching musicals and in particular the films of Doris Day, I was a fan of their chosen repertoire! There’s a lovely mix of recognisable show tunes as well as lesser-known songs.
A particular highlight is a moment in which both reflect on the wars they have witnessed in their lifetimes. This leads to Harold discussing the relatively unknown musical Johnny Johnson, about a pacifist who fights in the First World War. On his return Johnny becomes a toy maker but refuses to create tin soldiers. The song that Harold performs is really tender and beautiful, highlighting the tone of his voice, and he moves into a version of John Lennon’s Imagine before returning to the song from Johnny Johnson.
Anita has an incredible voice and this is shown to particular strength in her solo numbers. At one point she speaks of losing her husband much too soon and proceeds to sing an enormously moving and powerful solo. She has the whole room, possibly teary eyed, in her hand by the end of the song.
Alongside the more reflective and sometimes quite moving moments, the show also creates a lot of laughs. Much of this is to do with the wonderful camaraderie between Harold and Anita. Occasionally lyrics are forgotten and cues missed, but this doesn’t matter as they make the audience feel so at ease and are able to laugh at themselves. You can tell that they are genuinely true friends and their support for each other is a joy to watch. In their words, they really do like each other!
A very funny moment sees them discussing the overuse of the word ‘love’, particularly in their world of musical theatre. They muse on how complete strangers in places like LA will say ‘love you’ instead of goodbye. This leads on to a brilliant medley of famous love songs in which they replace the word ‘love’ with ‘like’!
The trio accompanying Anita and Harold put the cherry on the cake of a wonderful evening. They are tight as a group and they add to the overall sense of camaraderie that envelops this show from start to finish. By the end of the evening I felt that I could be in the middle of New York City after a night of American show tunes, and it was a slight surprise to find myself back on the King’s Road after an evening of classic entertainment.
Director: Barry Kleinbort
Musical Director: Noam Galperin
Performers: Anita Gillette, Harold Sanditen, Noam Galperin, Robert Rickenberg and Paul Cavacuiti
Box Office: 020 7439 4962
Booking Link: https://www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/anita-gillette-harold-sanditen-in-harold-and-broad
Booking Until: 3 November 2016