An interview with cabaret artist Anna Lou Larkin – The Upcoming
The Wine Club: Interview with innkeeper Anna Lou Larkin
February 15, 2022
The worlds of wine and cabaret find a perfect meeting point at The Other Palace, where The Wine Club will be presented on 17and February. After the cancellation of the Vault Festival, the production fortunately found an alternative venue for its London tour. Anna Lou Larkin not only hosts this intoxicating solo show, but also takes on the role of sommelier for the night.
Educated at the École Lecoq in Paris, she worked in French theater before bringing her work to the UK – a regular presence at Madame Jojos and the Edinburgh Fringe. More recently, her passion for performing has found a worthy companion, as she began attending Wine and Spirit Education Trust courses to study the obscure and fascinating art of wine. Combining humour, music and a pinch of mystery, Anna offers a fun evening as she engages with her audience and guides them through the mystical interpretation of a glass of red or white. We caught up with the singer to talk about her two passions and how she blends them.
Hello Anna, thank you very much for your time. Let’s start at the beginning: where does your passion for wine come from?
My father is very fond of wine and when we were little he liked to ask us about what we could smell in the glass. I knew Sauvignon Blanc was supposed to smell like gooseberries before I even knew what a gooseberry was. I have always enjoyed drinking wine as an adult. and I realized that I could make better choices if I learned a little more about the different wines out there and what to expect from them.
What are your three favorite wines and why?
Champagne is of course number one. It goes with everything and makes everything a party. The Crémant is up there because I can’t always afford Champagne. And an old person Hunter Valley Semillon is one of the most unique wines I have ever tasted, so it deserves a mention.
Now let’s move on to cabaret: when did you fall in love with the genre?
I first fell in love with cabaret at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004, watching a Whoopee Club show. I was struck by the creativity and the connection with the audience (and the costumes of course!). I started performing my own work shortly after a long theatrical tour, and the freedom and ownership I felt doing my own thing was like a breath of fresh air.
Who do you draw inspiration from for your actions?
Musically, I have always been a big fan of the style and soul of Edith Piaf and the storytelling and passion of Jaques Brel. And Victoria Wood’s warm and intelligent musical has always been an inspiration for all things laughter.
What do you think the world of cabaret and wine have in common?
The bottom line is that they’re both about connecting with others: they start conversations and they’re more fun to share, even if the audience is small. Certainly, for the best bottles of wine, the smaller the audience, the better! They’re also both aimed at having fun, but there’s often even more to pull from well-made examples if you so choose.
What should we expect from The Wine Club – how will you combine the two?
The show is a fun hour with music and storytelling and a tiny bit of magic. There is a bit of tasting, where the public can experience some of the basics of wine tasting in a light-hearted way. There is often a lot of snobbery around wine, which can lead people to a “this is crap!” reaction, and I want to show that this is all supposed to be fun and relaxing, but a little knowledge can make drinking wine even more enjoyable.
Pairing wine with food is common, whereas in the context of theater it more often represents a pre-show or in-between accompaniment. How would you encourage more works specifically focused on art and wine to come together on stage?
Come see the show!
You worked a few years earlier in the French theatre. How do you think drama differs in the English language?
I think you can communicate the same things through theater in any language, especially in the very physical way we worked. In terms of text, I think the French language has its own poetry that is great fun to play with and can inform the characters as you create them.
What did you enjoy most about your work under Michael Keane? Can you describe a strong moment?
It can be hard to know what material will land when you’re doing a solo show, especially in recent years when it’s been harder to test things out in front of an audience. Having Michael in the room helped me see what could work and what couldn’t, and we had a lot of laughs at each other – sometimes in an unexpected direction.
The theater industry is still struggling to organize long-term initiatives, as demonstrated by the cancellation of the Vault Festival. What advice would you like to share with those starting a career in this industry now?
I would say you need to be sure you really want to do this first. And then focus on what makes you unique and how you can really sell it. I’m still learning to see myself as a business – you’re still an artist first and foremost, but it’s important that you do.
You are currently preparing the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines. What’s next after that?
I would love to take the show on tour and continue to use my growing knowledge of wine to communicate the world of wine in a lighthearted and theatrical way.
The Wine Club is lit at The Other Palace of 17and up to 19and February 2022. For more information or to book, visit the theater website here.