Reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London by Barrie Jerram for Musical Theatre Review.
Star rating: Five Stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Gary Williams, favourite son of Crazy Coqs’s patrons, returned with his Christmas show – no, not show but a family party. For that is what he turns his act into. His broad smile, easy manner and cheeky patter enable him, as he moves through the room, to engage with the audience as though they are old friends. And of course many are.
His patter often leads his audience down a path of sentimentality, only to have that bubble burst with a quip or a clever song parody. The best examples being ‘It’s Very Clear That Your Mother is Here to Stay’ and switching from Mary Poppins’ ‘Feed the Birds’ to ‘Kill the Birds’.
Williams’ rapport with an audience is such that he feels comfortable enough to be frank about his lifestyle and talk about being single again. Needless to say he manages to squeeze humour out of even this. The dangers of online dating are revealed in ‘She’s Got a Penis’. However, he immediately changes the mood with ‘River’, a poignant number of loneliness at Christmas.
His song list is a finely balanced one that mixes familiar standards (many are featured on his latest CD – Big Band Wonderland) with lesser-known ones and quirky ditties. Donning a Stetson, he breaks into a country and western mood to deliver ‘Please Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas’ and ‘Santa’s Going to Come in a Pickup Truck’.
Testing the audience’s memory he trolls rapidly through some of the Christmas number ones (and golly were there some stinkers!), and also looks ahead to give a taste of his new show Hollywood Swings. It augers well for when he brings it to Crazy Coqs from 24 to 28 May 2016.
The second half of the show gives the audience a chance to singalong with old favourites including the boisterous ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’.
Excellent piano accompaniment is provided throughout by the ever reliable Clive Dunstall.
Once again Williams lives up to his reputation and delivers a great festive night out. It’s sad to recount, however, that a few members of the audience were a little disrespectful to the performer – they seemed to think that their conversations were more important than giving him silence – no doubt all due to an excess of Christmas spirit(s).