BWW review: CABARET ALL STARS FT.  BILL BAILEY, proud embankmentProud embankment Cabaret all stars is back in full force for another season of the best burlesque, cabaret and circus acts in London right now. The company has an excellent reputation for the quality of its actions and has featured a glitzy array of special guests in the past. On dates selected until the end of September, Bill Bailey, national treasure and great thinker, joins the show.

The show is rich in burlesque, boylesque and acrobatics, with Bailey providing most of the musical interludes. What is clear from the start is that show director Jessicats curated an incredibly talented array of performers. It’s a fast and furious spectacle that both captivates and entertains.

Abi Collins, known as the Ritzie Crackers, is the irrepressible host. Funny, energetic and extremely quick-witted, she has an instant rapport with the public. Her singing voice is strong and she also has her own awesome acrobatic moves.

Lady Lydia and Katrina Louise perform exceptional aerial acrobatic numbers. Both have the ability to make the most incredible physical feats effortlessly, with Lady Lydia’s flexibility particularly impressive. Katrina Louise’s graceful performance is all the more impressive given that she had a baby just nine months ago.

Lady Lydia also appears with the excellent Lord Shade, fire performer and circus performer, for a particularly eye-catching routine in which he sets various parts of her body on fire as she performs various contortions on a lounge chair.

The sex load skyrockets with boylesque performers Eagle and Jack Dupree, both of whom stalked the ground, bursting with confidence and skillful moves. Brazilian burlesque legend Marie Devilreux also supported the feminine side with a graceful aerial routine, performed practically naked.

More traditional acts include the charming Pi le Mime and the J’Adore La Vie duo which both offer comedy and a skillful stage presence.

Bailey himself first appears dressed as a 19th century pastor and initially looks a little odd among acres of bare flesh and tattoos. However, it provides a very effective contrast to the wilder, more physical elements of the show. He has an immediate connection with a live audience with his funky manners and dry style.

Bailey showcases many of his famous musical talents, including outstanding guitar work and a dark, intelligent version of “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” sung like a brooding blues ballad.

A clever operation, with as much skill on the part of the backstage staff as the performers, the stage manager made sure that every garment thrown away was caught, every spill wiped off and that the whole show went as smoothly as possible.

The musical selection and lighting create an energetic and immersive atmosphere, although the strobe in the opening act of Pi the Mime was enough to trigger epilepsy, even in the non-suffering. We must also mention the dancers of Proud Cabaret, who provided dynamic support to several numbers.

A little more onstage welcome from Bailey would have been welcome, and the grand finale of a slapstick Thor / Boudecia battle was somewhat lackluster compared to the energy of the rest of the show, with decidedly fishy fight choreography. However, the professionalism and remarkable skill of the rest of the show make it a very entertaining and captivating evening. If you love cabaret, there is no better showcase than Fier.

Cabaret All Stars Ft. Bill Bailey is at Proud Embankment on select dates through September 23

Photo credit: Proud Cabaret

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