West End On Sea are a company that originated in Brighton, however have recently started performing in their new venue, Proud Cabaret. Proud Cabaret City is modelled on a 1920’s speakeasy and offers an evening of fine dining and entertainment of unrivalled prestige. West End On Sea – aka The Follow Spot in London – have just begun their spring season kicking off with the legend that is Anna-Jane Casey. The Follow Spot will have West End stars coming to perform at the Proud Cabaret every other Sunday until the end of April. This week it was the turn of Hannah Jane Fox!
In her career, she has amassed a catalogue of achievements. Credits include Scaramouche in We Will Rock You, Virus in Taboo, Dick Whittington in Dick Whittington. To name a few more she has also been in Rent, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, All You Need Is Love and Hot Stuff. Hannah’s best known role in TV so far has been in Ben Elton’s 2005 BBC sitcom Blessed in which she played the character Vicky. She has also appeared in two episodes of The Bill in 2007 as well as a few smaller roles in various TV programs. She then went on to star in The Ben Elton Sitcom, ‘The Wright Way’. She is now currently starring in a CBBC show ‘Millie Inbetween,’ as the mother of two (Sharon).
The evening was predominantly Fox’s own songs with a couple of interjections of pop, musical theatre or country. Fox also proved her interest in comedy songs by performing so many, mostly about her child birth scenarios. Which, in my opinion last a little too long as a section, however, to begin with was rather amusing. From the middle onwards in Fox’s set there were a considerable amount more of acoustic or just piano based songs, which, after the over the top humour of some of the previous set list, bought nice moments of stillness to the evening. These types of songs always bode well in smaller more intimate spaces due to the fact that it’s just the act, their voice and performance.
After the hilariously over the top song Mama’s On The Morphine, Fox performed Vincent (Starry Starry Night) originally sung by Don Mclean. This is one of those songs, as aforementioned, that just bring the audience into the performer. Because it is so much about the acting and delivery of the lyric with these types of songs, the performers do not need a large set or huge orchestra blasting out a grand score behind them. The simplicity of the acoustic guitar and focussed and honest delivery by Fox did the song so much justice.
The evenings support acts were also incredibly talented. The compare of the evening, Jess Robinson, started the evening with the game ‘The Impressions Cocktail’ which was a brilliant ice breaker. As the show continued and more games were played the hilarity and talent of Robinsons impressions were showcased. Shane Hampsheir, our second support act is a strong jazz singer and a very good crowd pleaser. Starting with the classic, Come Fly With Me, Hampsheir captivated the audience for the entirty of the song, clicking and clapping along, appealing to the older generations in the audience. The third support act for the night, Rachel Paris delighted the audience to her original comedy works of which she is often commissioned to write. The evening would not have been a triumph without the vast musical talents of Simon Pickering, Musical Director/Piano, Matt Greaves on Guitar, Dan Hall on Bass and Gareth Roberts on Drums.
The standout moment from this evening’s performance was the gorgeously sentimental original song, Tell The Babies. Which musically, was beautiful, however I ask the question if the song should have just stayed as a piano only song or if the rest of the band were necessary – as brilliant as they were – for the atmosphere of the room.
Reviewed by Thomas Yates
For more information on the West End On Sea – Follow Spot series at Proud Cabaret, click here.