It has been two decades since Show Boat-famed Lorna Dallas last graced London’s cabaret scene, yet her second act is more relevant and triumphant than ever. Lorna Dallas: Home Again, staged at the West End’s stunning, art-deco Zedel venue and available on the Crazy Coqs YouTube channel, pays poignant tribute to some of America and Britain’s most prolific and beloved composers, including Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Gershwin Brothers, and of course, Jerome Kern.
In what serves beautifully as a playful and charismatic partnership, the show is helmed by the skillful musical direction of Dallas’ long-time friend, Jason Carr. As supportive as any master of his craft, Carr knows Both how to please an audience and how to emcee a cabaret without a word. Carr keeps Home Again swift and an ease to watch through his savvy timing and charming musical banter. Carr even jumps in for a complementary harmony with Dallas in their rendition of Sondheim’s ‘You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow,’ proving himself a balanced musician skilled with many instruments, including a graceful baritone voice!
The show itself is transportive through its minimalist, classic approach. Apart from the piano to guide them, Dallas and Carr are alone on a stage draped with a red velvet curtain and two standing microphones. Thanks to its intimate and essentialist staging, Dallas’ performance can focus even more intently on respecting the Broadway and West End classics by her favourite composers—and does she ever!
Dallas boasts a timeless soprano throughout the show with a clear and polished upper register that soothes like sweet medicine against a headache. Her head voice is strong and supported, while still giving way for varied vocal technique for comedic timing, asides to the audience, or changing characters from song to song. Dallas’ remarkably controlled vibrato rings clear as a bell through the venue and harkens back to the classical training that is often overshadowed or takes a back seat in contemporary theatre.
In fact, each song in Home Again aims to reinvigorate classical theatre while also expressing Lorna Dallas’ personal and studied love for it. One almost expects the trademark feedback of an antique radio to crackle while listening because of how transportive these classics are. Watching Dallas reminisce lovingly about the songs she performs—giving anecdotes about how she first heard ‘Summer Me, Winter Me’ at a Frank Sinatra concert or how she first discovered the Welsh composer Ivor Novello—creates a comfortingly personal and endearing tone for the night.
Overall, Lorna Dallas: Home Again employs its passionate renditions of traditional song to weave an easeful, yet spirited tapestry of the honoured musical’s golden age. Additionally, Crazy Coqs modernises the expression of cabaret theatre by making its inspiration available to anyone over the internet during a time of dire need for uninhibited self-expression, community, and connection across age, performance mediums, time, and space.
Main Image Credit: Kevin Alvey