music,bBook and lyrics by Stuart Wood.
Hoxton Hall 130 Hoxton Street N1 6SH To 10 January 2010.
Mon, Wed -Sat 8pm Mat Sat 5pm Sun 3pm & 6pm.
Runs 1hr 20min. No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 209 1866.
Review: Geoff Ambler 7 December 2009.
A delightfully fanciful, endlessly hilarious festival of mad music hall campery.
Frank’s Closet fits Hoxton’s hall like a glove. Indeed, like a long over-the-elbow glove, probably with buttons and an excess of sequins; there may be feathers involved in the rest of the outfit. The outfit is probably worn by a man but you can be sure when he sings, and he will sing, it will be like a mellifluous pearly-button adorned queen, an iconic Judy Garland or more memorably Ethel Merman, but more of her later.
Greeted and thoroughly entertained pre-show by Sheila Blige (Lee Greenaway) and her rendition of ‘Those Faking Kents’, Hoxton’s delightfully intimate theatre proved to be a place for event theatre. Stuart Wood’s Music Hall musical, which was written for the venue, is sparklingly witty camp fare, where entendres abound and some seriously decent and occasionally indecent music blends in with gaiety, comedy and multi-coloured campery.
Frank is getting married and it is time for him to empty his closet. Working through his collection of diva‘s dresses, each provokes memories of the women who influenced his life. Julie Andrews arrives in a rubber nun’s dress, Karen Carpenter in pyjamas, Judy Garland in jacket and tights; all played with immaculate finesse and glorious extravagance by the versatile Russell Whitehead. But it is his Ethel Merman, bedecked in a pair of swans, surrounded by pink flamingo feather fans and defining magnificent with gay abandon, that brings his inestimable and electrifying talents to the fore.
Gary Amers matches Whitehead’s extravagances and with most of the book to deal with, carries the wit and humour on his broad shoulders. He debates whether marriage is in keeping with his gay lifestyle choice to play in the Avant Garden but love and several divas eventually conquer all.
The trio of fabulous Gaiety Girls provide excesses of enchantment and laughter, with pouts and the chorus. Despite its one act brevity Frank’s Closet should stamp Hoxton Hall firmly on the map for the holiday period.
Frank: Gary Amers.
Diva: Russell Whitehead.
The Gaiety Girls: Portia Emare, David Furnell, Colleen Daley.
Sheila Blige: Lee Greenaway.
Director: Ian Burton.
Designer/Graphics: Catherine Phelps.
Choreographer/Resident Director: Kirsty Davide.
Costume: India Banks.