London Festival of Cabaret 2014: Scott Alan at the Hippodrome
Just off Leicester Square is The Hippodrome, a gaming hall with floors tiled with coins and velvet mats. It is in their auditorium that Scott Alan sits down at the grand piano late Tuesday night, accompanied by a bottle of wine, charming the audience with self-deprecating jokes about his sexuality and life history. He opens the show with a calm ballad unaccompanied, but is soon joined by an array of singers and musicians on stage.
First out to join him as a guest singer is The Bodyguard’s Danielle Steers, singing Say Goodbye. She delivers a strong performance with a full and powerful voice, kick-starting the show with her red dress and solid presence. Several other artists later join Alan on the purple-lit stage: some are professional West End performers, some are friends of his, and some are winners of a contest held by Alan, sweeping the Internet for talented singers. The guests all present a smooth show, backed by Alan’s beautiful piano.
One of the performers of the night stands out from the rest, giving us an exceptional performance. South Londoner Cynthia Erivo sings And There It Is, beforehand explaining why the songs means so much to her: it reminds her of her other half, of whom she speaks very dearly of, looking a bit shy. When she starts singing it is as if the world outside the auditorium disappears, and everything is focused on her. She has an amazing stage presence, a brilliant voice, and a way of acting while singing that really enraptures and enchants. She makes the song completely her own, and receives roaring applause from the audience.
Alan does not sing many songs, but when he does he tells the story behind each, which greatly moves the audience. The lyrics, which may sound simple on first listen, are given a deeper dimension as Alan gives us a snapshot of his life between the songs. He tells us stories about alcoholism, abuse, divorce, bullying, break-ups and depression, and he himself gets so emotional that he actually wells up. This touching intimacy and openness creates a loving atmosphere that lingers even as the audience leaves the auditorium, spilling out into the busy hall.
Scott Alan and special guests are at The Hippodrome until 16th May 2014. London Festival of Cabaret 2014 is on until 22nd May 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch Cynthia Erivo’s perform And There It Is here: