From the start, this show is flat-out fun. It opens with our two stars, Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo, breaking into song. Belting out songs from all the best musicals, from Chess to Cabaret, Le Gateau Chocolat’s vocal abilities in particular are incredibly impressive! They make for a great crowd-pleaser, and straight from the outset the audience were laughing and singing along.
Both the physical and scripted comedy in the show have moments of genius: I particularly enjoyed Le Gateau Chocolat’s quip that Les Miserables could have taken place on Woolwich high street. But it’s not all full-on gags: moments of silence are one of the most powerful tools in comedy, and the two queens make expert use of them to get the audience giggling away. I also have to commend the use of the platform to make jabs at the government – they’re the “Ant and Dec of drag”, not the “Rishi and Liz”!
The performers’ wardrobes had some real gems, including Beauty and the Beast inspired teapot headpieces, but Jonny Woo donning a Darth Vader mask was a stroke of genius. It’s a reminder when people ask “what is drag?”, that there really are no limits. And they’re a creative and innovative pair: another highlight was the use of a spray can to create fake ice powers during Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’- who needs West End performers when you’ve got these two?
The two queens do a great job of involving the audience, including sing-alongs and the opportunity to request parodies of your favourite show tunes. During one number the audience are asked to hold up their phone torches to create a sea of lights, which is a lovely touch, although I’m not sure if audience members forgetting to switch them back off was accounted for.
Woolwich Works is a lovely venue and perfectly suited to the drag cabaret format. Unfortunately, the sound design for the show seemed to be slightly off, and lots of spoken word became fuzzy and unintelligible. Perhaps connected with these sound issues, I also found that the duo started talking over each other on a number of occasions, which made things hard to follow. This was a shame given that the two are highly talented in both comedy and vocals.
That aside, Now That’s What We Call Musicals! makes for a night of great, glamorous fun, and the love that both audience and performers have for the medium was palpable. The audience were cheering throughout, there were moments of comedy brilliance, and I won’t be able to get a bearded drag queen singing ‘Let It Go’out of my head for some time to come!
Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo: NOW THAT’S WHAT WE CALL MUSICALS! played at Woolwich Works on 3 September