LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT & JONNY WOO: A NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS – 90 YEARS OF DRAG! at the Soho Theatre
“Woo transforms Singing in the Rain and Do-Re-Me into absolute filth”
Walking down Shaftsbury Avenue, you have the pick of pretty much any musical you could ever imagine from Les Misérables to Get Up Stand Up, a celebration of Bob Marley’s life and career. However, only a few minutes away at Soho Theatre, you can experience a hilarious medley of the genre’s greatest hits at Le Gateau Chocolat & Jonny Woo: A Night at the Musicals – 90 Years of Drag! A joint birthday extravaganza for ‘The French and Saunders of Drag’, the duo performs some of their favourite showtunes with varying degrees of faithfulness to the original lyrics and increasingly outrageous shenanigans and costumes.
There can be no expectations of how any song will be performed. All that Jazz – the show’s opener – is performed as intended (albeit with large inflatable hands) whilst Memories from Cats is remixed with My Neck, My Back and Eye of the Tiger (two songs about other types of cats). Woo transforms Singing in the Rain and Do-Re-Me into absolute filth whilst Sweet Transvestite has all the pizazz for which The Rocky Horror Picture Show is known. Most songs are sung live though a few are lip synced such as So Long, Farewell from the Sound of Music which is particularly amusing as deep-voiced Chocolat plays young Gretl’s part. Our stars are both given equal chance to shine in solos, but their chemistry is so strong that they are at their best on stage together.
Songs are occasionally introduced with a rambling story which ends with the song’s title which the duo describe as ‘a tenuous link’. Sweet Transvestite is introduced via an emotional tale of an old cross-dresser that Woo once knew whose dresses he has now come to own. Audience participation can be expected too though this is not just limited to singing along – some will be delighted to be part of a brief performance of the Time Warp.
As to be expected, the costumes are fabulous and playful. The audience is treated to seemingly endless costume changes – including a sequined playsuit from Boohoo Luxe – and at the end of one song Woo ends up completely naked.
The set is bare – a banner saying ‘MUSICALS’ hangs at the back and light strips, a disco ball, smoke and fans do the rest. However, our two stars are simply so captivating that it is barely noticeable and the empty stage in fact allows for ample space for them to dance and move around. They do not limit themselves to the stage either, at times changing costumes at the side of the stalls in full view of the audience. Chocolat also performs a delicate rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You here and is none the less brilliant because of it.
Woo and Chocolat advertise a performance of every single musical hit from the past 90 years, an impossible task. What they do deliver is fantastic, even if there are notable exclusions to the song sheet. Woo and Gateau’s charisma is unmatched, and you will find yourself beaming and wanting to get up on your feet throughout. If you’re a fan of musicals, drag and debauchery, this is the show for you.
Reviewed on 6th January 2023
by Flora Doble
Photography by Shazad Khalid
Previously reviewed at this venue: