Nikki Aitken & Jamie Burgess: Gobsmacked: Showbiz & Dating

Nikki Aitken and Jamie Burgess

Gobsmacked: Showbiz & Dating

Live at Zédel at the Crazy Coqs, London, UK, June 9, 2019

Review by Thanasis Kalantzis for Cabaret Scenes

Jamie Burgess & Nikki Aitken

Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm on a glorious June day in London town may not be the best time to enjoy a cabaret show. Nevertheless, the iconic Crazy Coqs was filled for the UK premiere of Gobsmacked: Showbiz & Dating by the high-octane duo of Nikki Aitken and Jamie Burgess. An Australian ex-pat living in London, vocalist Aitken has appeared in musicals and on cabaret stages throughout her native country (along the way collecting Best Cabaret awards and nominations), as well as in London and New York. Composer-writer-singer-pianist Burgess is a Kiwi already widely known Down Under for his work.

The two met in Melbourne some years ago; they immediately clicked and, very soon afterwards, consummated their evolved artistic relationship. This show is the natural product of that union and solid proof of all the fabulous things that can ensue when “straight-single-girl-meets-gay-man.” Even though she wonders why the most gorgeous guys are gay, a lifelong friendship began.


Blurring the line between musical theater and cabaret, the show was supported by Burgess’ hysterical script, along with nine of his original songs, beautifully executed by Aitkin’s powerhouse voice. Their inventive, high-energy blend was drop-dead delicious and spread out evenly on a variety of subjects: the long road to dating and decent relationships; the agonizing thirst for a break into the biz; and, of course, “is a good cup of coffee which is what happiness is all about?”

With “I Love Musicals” they celebrated their common ground: their zealous adoration for the genre. “Single Life,” a snapshot of the trials and tribulations of just that, was delivered as a side-splitting scene at a restaurant acted by the inimitable Aitken.

The ambience toned down when they performed “Happiness,” a raw and touching return to the primeval search.

It was during “Tipsy’s Turn” that Aitken, along with her singing, amazed with her acting abilities, taking the role of a diva from the 1940s who’s in dire straits; the walls of the room were shaking with laughter.

In the same spirit, “The Hangover Song” (the only song written by Aitken) raised the questions “have you ever woken up with just one shoe on?.” “Be the Knight,” sung by Burgess, was a warm ballad perfectly placed.

They closed with “Gobsmacked,” a great stir of rock & roll and gospel, during which some good news and cookies were shared.

Beyond being outrageously funny, this bubbly, quick-witted show is sincerely observed, artfully assembled, and executed with care and professionalism. It’s also the perfect showcase for Aitkin’s diverse talents. Blessed with a robust set of pipes, the singer can comfortably deliver every big number out there. Throw in her acting skills, impeccable comedic timing, and effervescent personality and you are left with a stage presence impossible to take your eyes off.

In some instances there was too much music in the room and the piano was far too loud, which made it difficult to follow the lyrics and connect the dots of the story line. But the sound issue was only a mild distraction from the duo’s palpable chemistry. 

For what it’s worth, for a show like this—a show “made in gay heaven”—I would give up my sunny afternoon any day.

Thanasis Kalantzis

Thanasis started reviewing for Cabaret Scenes in 2012. He started by reviewing primarily jazz and cabaret artists visiting from the U.S., but these days, he concentrates on British talent. Recently, he added covering musical theater to his duties. He was born in the heart of rural Greece in 1967. He studied Archaeology at the University of Thessaloniki, worked as an excavator in the prehistoric town of Akrotiri, Santorini, and then spent two years on the beautiful island of Crete excavating a Roman village, among other sites. In 1991 he moved to London to study for his MA in Archaeology at University College London thinking that, upon completion, he’d return to Greece and continue with his excavation work. Nevertheless, he gave this amazingly diverse city a go, and started working with various companies, including the Horniman Museum, Sotheby’s and, most recently, the Big Lottery Fund, the organization that allocates lottery funds to arts and charities. His been in London for 26 years, and is happily married to his husband and runs a small, successful business.