Review: "Harold Sanditen's Open Mic Night" at The Crazy Coqs
We’ve all been to Open Mic nights, I’m sure. But if what you have in mind is one of those held in a student bar or grimy pub, where you nurse a warm pint of lager while listening to the third guy in a row play “Wonderwall” – then think again.
|NB - Tickets are now actually a whopping £8, rather than £5. Inflation, amiright? From left to right, Michael Roulston, Jonathan 'Kitch' Kitching, Harold Sanditen, Robert Rickenberg|
This Thursday, my ever-charming Plus-One and I spent a delightful evening enjoying cabaret performed by practising professionals and some of the least-amateur amateurs I have ever encountered.
The regular event is presided over – and orchestrated by – Harold Sanditen, investment banker turned theatre producer turned cabaret singer extraordinaire. Alongside recording music and performing in his own solo shows, he has been hosting the Open Mic night for five years, giving performers the chance to shine in “one of the most beautiful music rooms in London.” He greeted us at the door, wearing a leopard print blazer. I was sold.
We were lucky enough to score two spots at the event’s 5th Birthday celebration and the joint was PACKED. There were clearly a list of performers as long as my arm (hopefuls sign up with Harold at the door before the show) but we only managed a measly 23 (ha!), which meant many people turned up to sing, but stayed just to watch instead. The nicest takeaway from the whole evening is that this didn’t seem to bother anyone – these cabaret lovers were just as happy to appreciate as to shine.
There seems to be two different categories of people who perform at Harold’s – professional performers looking to try out new material, and highly-talented amateurs. Les Bottomley, with whom we shared a table, sits in the second category. An engineer originally from Lancashire, Les had recently decided it was high time he pursue his passion, inspired by his jazz-musician daughter.
Relatively new to the scene, Les described how singing at Zédel is a great way to get back into performing, due to both the supportive atmosphere and the opportunity to network with other singers. This is one of the best things about this particular Open Mic Night – it gives talents like Les a doorway to London’s cabaret scene in a truly meaningful way.
Quick-fire round of “Acts I Liked in Particular”
- Suzi Woods’ Postmodern Jukebox take on “All About that Bass”
- Lorna Dallas whose Spring Collection show starts at the Crazy Coqs on May 30th
- Peyton of dance music and X-Factor fame – performed his take on Maya Angelou’s I’ll Rise
- Evie Lake – one of the Glamour Girls, performing at Harold’s highlights at Zedel on Monday
- Nicky Gayner, who sang a fantastic version of Eartha Kitt’s “An Englishman Takes Time”
There was a good range of different styles – some show tunes, a smattering of soul and plenty Frank Sinatra – and although the level of musical talent was extremely high, this was not a 100% polished professional show. People forgot words and got the odd note wrong – but this was a large part of the charm for me. Somehow it managed to balance the glitz of the performers with a certain casualness, making you cosily part of the scene.
Rather than feeling like we had sat down in the audience to watch a fully-realised showcase, it felt like we were gate-crashing a post-show party. All the performers seemed to know and genuinely appreciate each other, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Divas they may be, but they sure as hell will whoop, cheer and encourage anyone who decides to get up and have a go.
It almost made me want to try it myself. Almost.
So – if you’re looking to get a taste of the stage, or if you’d just like a great night out in London, you can’t get much better than this– the next one is on May 10th,and we promise you it will be £8 well spent.