Tag Archives: Ben M Rogers

Elton John: It’s A Little Bit Funny


Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Elton John: It's A Little Bit Funny

Elton John: It’s A Little Bit Funny

Upstairs at The Gatehouse

Reviewed – 20th February 2020



“It’s poignant, entertaining, exciting and, often, ‘it’s a little bit funny’”


For the best part of fifteen years Elton John had made Vegas his second home until he gave it a memorable farewell last September with a spectacular and emotional three-hour retrospective gig. It’s part of his ongoing ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’, booking until next year, after which he will retire. Or so he says, Frank Sinatra’s farewell tour lasted twenty years. Leaving Las Vegas must have been a wrench. His ‘Red Piano’ residency ran for five years and the later ‘The Million Dollar Piano’ for seven years.

Imagine you are a devoted fan of Elton’s, growing up with his songs and learning to play the piano by listening over and over to the music. He is the reason you chose your perilous career as a musical performer. You’re doing okay at it. In fact, more than okay. You’ve got theatre, television and concert, recording and writing credits to your name, and you’ve now landed a job in a touring musical which, on its North American Tour, takes in some dates in Vegas right next door to Caesars Palace where Elton is playing. On a rare night off you’re hanging out late one night, doodling away at a piano in a hotel foyer, when Elton John walks in and joins in, starts chatting, buys you a cocktail, takes you gambling …

This is not imagination, but fact, for Martin Kaye, pianist, singer, songwriter and all-round showman. Well – almost. It is the whole truth – except the last bit might be made up. But it was a real possibility. Martin and Elton’s paths could so easily have crossed. And if they had… well, that is the show: “Elton John – It’s A Little Bit Funny”. It tells the tale of that night in Vegas. A night of confessions, anecdotes, jokes and songs.

Anybody expecting a ‘tribute act’ or Elton impersonator will be disappointed. Everybody else will be blown away by the musicianship of Kaye and his totally relaxed stage presence. A soft and cheeky Mancunian accent – the perfect voice for the self-deprecating one liners that trip off the tongue. Written by Chris Burgess this definitely has the feel of a collaborative labour of love. Over thirty of Elton John’s songs make up the set list. Many are extracts from which Kaye breaks away to pick up the thread of the story. It is a three-way conversation between him, the audience and Elton.

We don’t learn much more about Elton John’s colourful life than we already know, but the key facts are given a personal touch which are further emphasised in the music with their autobiographical context. Many of the old favourites are there; “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, Candle In The Wind”, “Rocket Man”, “Tonight” and the poignant “Someone Saved My Life Tonight; but also some lesser known ones such as “Skyline Pigeon”, “Bitter Fingers” or “Feed Me” which give a deeper insight into the man.

Backed by a tight three-piece band, with Morgan Rickman on guitar, Johnny Wells on bass and David Talisman on drums, Kaye pounds and caresses his piano. He is a truly talented pianist who has both the technique and expression to make the instrument an extension of his own personality. Some of the songs are direct replicas of the original, but many are reinterpreted. His jazz-inflected re-phrasing of “Bennie And The Jets” is a stunning opening to the show.

It closes with “Your Song” from which the show’s title gets its name. It is a song which, over the years, has become a faded wallpaper to the music world. But, like much of Elton’s repertoire, Kaye strips it down and re-pastes it with a fresh sheen. This is far from an Elton John gig. This is a Martin Kaye gig. You certainly don’t need to be a fan of Elton to appreciate this show. It’s poignant, entertaining, exciting and, often, ‘it’s a little bit funny’.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Ben Hewis


Upstairs at the Gatehouse thespyinthestalls

Elton John: It’s A Little Bit Funny

Upstairs at The Gatehouse until 1st March


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Bad Girls The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
Strike Up The Band | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Marvelous Wonderettes | ★★★★ | April 2019
Flat Out | ★★★★ | June 2019
Agent 14 | | August 2019
Pericles, Prince Of Tyre | ★★★ | August 2019
Working | ★★★★ | September 2019
A Modest Little Man | ★★★★ | October 2019
I Do! I Do! | ★★★½ | October 2019
42nd Street | ★★★★ | December 2019


Click here to see our most recent reviews




Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour



Theatre Royal Brighton

Reviewed – 8th July 2019



“each song and dance number is filled with unfathomable skill”


Sex, drugs, sex, psychedelic tabs, more sex and a rather peculiar UV Scene. Hair bounces into Brighton as part of its 50th anniversary tour.

Picture this, itʼs 1967 and a group of hippie youngsters are longing to change the world in which they find themselves. They question every aspect of authority and unite through protest and song, under the gloomy shadow of the Vietnam War.

The story of Hair jumps so sporadically from one character and story to another which confuses, leaving us little to no time to really form an emotional connection with each character and the threadbare storyline.

The cast is laden with TV celebrities. X-Factor Duo Jake Quickenden (modelling a rather revealing thong throughout) and Marcus Collins (as Hud) are both interesting talents. Both do well throughout but are underserved by the script and direction from Jonathan O’Boyle. Quickendenʼs energetic conversations with the audience are infectious and makes his Berger completely loveable; someone youʼd take home to your mum.

Vocally, Aiesha Pease, playing Dionne, and Daisy Wood-Davis, as Shelia, are simply stunning, both commanding the stage with pitch-perfect clarity. However beautiful harmonies and exceptional examples of physical theatre canʼt forgive the poor diction from most of the cast throughout the sub-par plot.

I have one big gripe about this production as a whole and thatʼs how it fairs in the current political climate. Although Hair tries all the tricks to appeal to our packed to the rafters Brighton audience but the lack of ‘shockingʼ content merely makes it a well-produced museum piece. With the director’s choice of implementing Trump speeches at the beginning, the show manages to say nothing new whilst remaining some-what relevant but this is cheap and easy. If you had put Erdogan or Putin speeches in place of Trump, or performed the show in Russia or Brunei for example, where homosexuality and nudity on stage is still illegal, then the impact would be colossal.

Putting the incoherent story aside, Hair, put simply, is a spectacle and an event. Once intended to shock and change laws, Hair unintentionally falls flat in its flamboyant charm. Although each song and dance number is filled with unfathomable skill, energy and wit the seemingly endless number of songs forces us to yearn for more of the thin narrative.


Reviewed by Nathan Collins

Photography by Johan Persson


Hair the Musical


Theatre Royal Brighton until 13th July then UK tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Rocky Horror Show | ★★★★ | December 2018
Benidorm Live! | ★★★★ | February 2019
Noughts And Crosses | ★★ | March 2019
Rotterdam | ★★★★ | April 2019
The Girl on the Train | ★★ | June 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com