When you hear the phrase “golden age of cabaret” do you think of the 1940s and 1950s or do you think of London in 2013? According to one stalwart of the London cabaret scene, Dusty Limits, “in decades to come, people will think of early 21st-century London as being up there with 19th-century Paris, Weimar Berlin and New York in the 1950s. Where else can you find this combination of classic cabaret, jazz, burlesque, freak-show, clowning and circus?”
Where indeed? You may be surprised to find out that you don’t have to travel to the darkest depths of East London to sample cabaret but to the Strand and one of the most famous hotels in the world – The Savoy.
When this landmark hotel emerged from a three year restoration in October 2010, one of the most glittering new additions was the
Beaufort Bar. It’s a bar built for decadence with £38,000 worth of gold leaf on the walls and some of the finest champagnes behind the
bar. The bar also happens to have been built on the hotel’s original cabaret stage which in its time was home to legends such as George
Gershwin, Noel Coward and Carol Gibbons & The Savoy Orpheans. It’s not so much a case of “if these walls could talk” but more “if these walls could sing”. A search through the hotel archive unearthed old photographs from the 1930s of the hotel’s Cabaret Evenings which featured not only stars of the day but also novelty acts and exotic dancers such as Miss La Janna and Oreste Noverro.
So in addition to the nightly entertainment in the Beaufort Bar, it’s no surprise that The Savoy has reintroduced these Cabaret Evenings (with the added thrill of Burlesque) and that they have quickly become some of the most popular events at the hotel. Taking place on the first Sunday of each month, the evenings are co-hosted by The Savoy’s resident diva, Ms Holly Penfield. Described as “a glitterball of passion, glamour and joie de vivre”, Ms Penfield combines the spirits of Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf; some of whom were frequent guests at The Savoy. She has already made her mark at The Savoy with a regular Thursday night residency at the Beaufort Bar. Her co-host is Dusty Limits, “the compere without compare”, who recently won Best Host at the inaugural London Cabaret Awards.
Performing on the hotel’s original cabaret stage has inspired them to draw on the rich theatrical history of The Savoy to put together an evening of scintillating entertainment that combines old-fashioned glamour with performers from London’s “new cabaret” scene.
Each month they are joined by a different line-up of some of London’s hottest cabaret and burlesque performers including Polly Rae, Vicky Butterfly, Kitty Bang Bang and Ginger Blush along with queen of the ukele, Tricity Vogue, acrobalancer Stephen Williams and Craig the Incredible Hula Boy. To play up the bar’s illustrious history, the acts often pay homage to The Savoy’s rich, theatrical history from Holly singing ‘Smile’ (which was composed by Charlie Chaplin, a Savoy regular) and Ginger Blush’s tribute to Marilyn Monroe (who held two press conferences with Laurence Olivier at the hotel). So if you’re looking for something a little more fun than a typical Sunday evening on the sofa, head down the Strand and into The Savoy.
The Savoy’s Evenings of Cabaret & Burlesque take place on the first Sunday of every month.
The Beaufort Bar opens at 7pm and the show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £25 per person and can be reserved by calling 020
7420 2111 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For full details go to www.savoycabaret.com