KT SULLIVAN & STEVE ROSS
THE STAGE, London
The Crazy Coqs Cabaret
Steve Ross and KT Sullivan
Monday 17 December 2012 at 16:01 by Jennifer Reischel
KT Sullivan is a German vamp who wants to be bad and never does anything twice while Steve Ross enjoys wallowing in post romantic stress syndrome.
Two of the genre’s most renowned luminaries from across the pond join forces to take up a stint as part of the first season at the newly launched cabaret room in the basement of W1 Brasserie Zedel. A grand piano and performance space have been designated to the side of the bar as tables and chairs fill up the circular, softly lit setting.
This delightful duo effortlessly migrates between operetta, story-telling, nonchalant anecdotes and complex, yet easy-on-the-ear, his and hers medleys. Lamenting (Ira Gershwin style) that it’s a pity they had never met before, they bounce songs back and forth like balls in a top class tennis match.
Covering mostly standard material ranging from Who Cares to They All Laughed and a wonderfully poignant rendition of Chicago’s Class, they are equally at home entertaining solo. Ross is endearing as much as he is commanding, but most of all it is his superb piano playing and lyric positioning that stand out. His phrasing is reminiscent of Fred Astaire and the late Bobby Short.
Sullivan plays to her heritage with some 19th century authentic Irish material and wandr’es through cadenzas in Poor Wandr’ing One with gusto. She also salutes the great early 20th century cabaret singer Mabel Mercer.
Transcending gracefully into their final medley, their stylish in-between-songs repartee comes to the fore. An artform in itself, this comes as a refreshing contrast to the often slightly forced and rather rehearsed versions performed by many contemporary British cabaret artists. If you want to see how it’s truly done, this is your chance.