Elton John – It’s a Little Bit Funny by Chris Burgess. Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 to 1 March 2020 & then on tour. 4****. William Russell.

Elton John – It’s a Little Bit Funny
By Chris Burgess
Songs by Elton John & Bernie Taupin.
Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD to 1 March 2020.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sun 4pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8340 3488
Review: William Russell 22 February

As Fats Waller said once upon a time the joint upstairs at the Gatehouse is currently jumping while this energetic revue starring Martin Kaye is taking place. He sings the songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, plays the piano – that grand will never be the same again – backed by a splendid band, jumps all over the place and narrates the plot which aptly enough turns out to be a fairy tale. Martin has performed in Vegas and the plot devised by Chris Burgess is for him to recount he happened to meet the great man, who rushed off taking Martin’s phone, and when he went to recover it took him to play roulette. Kaye plays the adoring fan delightfully, and with just the right degree of realisation that while the podgy boy from Pinner may have metamorphosed into the Queen Mother of pop and knight of the realm with a husband and kids the past is another and far more dangerous country. Fantastic costumes, Liberace inspired, drugs, sex and rock and roll to the limits were once his way of life. It is nice idea to tell this fable and gets round the problem of how to stage what could have been just another juke box show with a sprinkling of a few random facts.
The ups and downs and all the excesses of that long career lived in the eye of the public are all there in Burgess’s script. It also means that we don’t get a copy cat Elton on stage – think all those sad tribute act shows that keep popping up – but the undeniably gifted Kaye doing his own thing, and exhausting it is to watch as his legs keep beating time to the songs, his hands fly across the keyboard and every now and then leaps up onto the piano stool – audiences on the left hand side of the auditorium get treated to rather a lot of the Kaye backside. Being the nice man he is they get warned right at the start that this is going to happen. There is a clever set spelling out in large white letters the world Elton with the O having in its centre a video screen on which the image of Kaye’s hands lambasting that keyboard is projected, a sight to take the breath away. Sir Elton was born in 1947 and judging by the audience most of them were reliving all their shared musical yesterdays and loving every minute of the journey Reg Dwight has made from Pinner to Vegas and his present eminence.
After its stint at the Gatehouse the show goes to the Radlett Centre on 3 March and then to Hope Mill theatre, Manchester from 21 to 26 April.
Performer: Martin Kaye
The Band – Morgan Rickman, Johnny Wells, David Talisman/Adam ‘Twenny’ Sheffield.

Director: Ben Stock.
Designer: Ben M Rogers.
Musical Arranger: Andy Collyer.
Production Photographs: Ben Hewis.

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