The Crazy Coqs Open Mic Night

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The Crazy Coqs Open Mic Night

The Crazy Coqs, London, U.K., April 30, 2015

Reviewed by Fiona Coffey for Cabaret Scenes

The-Crazy-Coqs-Logo-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212The weekly Open Mic night at London’s The Crazy Coqs celebrated its second birthday with a sparkling array of talent, cementing its reputation as London’s most prestigious and inspiring showcase for performers and cabaret enthusiasts alike. All the ingredients that make this late-night Thursday institution a consistently engaging and memorable night out created the perfect birthday cake for the Crazy Coqs community, whose host, Harold Sanditen, first pitched the idea of an Open Mic at this exquisite venue.

Despite Artistic Director Ruth Leon’s initial skepticism, Sanditen has proved that it is possible to create an Open Mic event that is both welcoming and inclusive, and generates a regular pool of high quality talent that can deliver a standard of entertainment for audiences which befits the status and cachet of the venue. This is no mean feat, as anyone who has organized or participated in a singers’ night will testify.

Sanditen’s approach is to place the needs of the show first: singers are not invited on stage in the order that they arrive; no slots are guaranteed; self-indulgence, particularly in the form of gut-wrenching ballads, is strictly frowned upon; newcomers or “virgins” are clustered together such that surprises—welcome and less so—are elegantly juxtaposed; and individual excellence is rewarded over time by earlier evening slots and the opportunity to be seen by Leon, a regular attendee. Sanditen’s hosting style is perfectly complemented by regular accompanist Michael Roulston, whose flexibility and adroitness across all musical genres places no limits on the most demanding of divas, yet whose visible engagement with each and every performer makes it possible for the most apprehensive newcomers to make their debuts on the somewhat daunting Crazy Coqs stage.

On this particular night, the community of regulars was clearly in a party mood, with glamor and sequins in abundance.

Roulston, Sanditen, and bass player Jonty Fisher sported dashing white tuxedos, and there were crowd-pleasing song choices from Mychelle Colleary, Paul Rhodes, Linda Bate and Suzi Wood.
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With 32 acts in the space of two hours, it was the diversity of performances that carried the show— jazz divas, musical theater pros, drag acts, crooners, those who want to promote their acts, those who just want to have a good time, those beginning their career, those enjoying their swan song—all find a comfortable place here, and this night there was much to appreciate. That included Melissa Cantzlaar’s intense jazz vocals, bravura performances by Nicky Aitken, Laura Shield, plus Andrew Pepper and the effortless charm of Paul Eros.
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The beauty of the art deco venue, the slick and professional hosting, the virtuosity and relaxed good humor of the musicians, and the warmth of community spirit that pervades The Crazy Coqs Open Mic makes for a very special atmosphere indeed. It was a birthday party to remember and, for those who wish to savor or join London’s cabaret community, it is a weekly experience not to be missed.

Fiona Coffey

Fiona Coffey joins our review team as a cabaret enthusiast and jazz singer, just as she makes her sell-out debut on the London cabaret scene with a self-devised tribute to her alter-ego Mrs. Robinson. She has hosted jazz evenings and performed at a number of venues including The Crazy Coqs, The Pheasantry, and 606 Club. In her day job she is a leadership development coach, travelling around the globe, working with a hugely diverse population of executives, as they grapple with the challenges of leadership and organizational change. Having recently expended most of her writing energies on her doctoral thesis, she welcomes the opportunity to entertain and inform a different audience through Cabaret Scenes.