THE VELMA CELLI SHOW
by Ian Stroughair.
The Matcham Room Hippodrome Casino Leicester Square Next show: 8pm 20 September 2013.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 02077 69 8866.
Review: William Russell 22 August.
Anything but a drag.
Cabaret rooms seem to be springing up all over London – the Pheasantry, the St James’s Theatre and in what was the London Hippodrome; the last a semi-circular space constructed above the old stage.
The auditorium is now the Hippodrome Casino. The Velma Celli Show is exactly what it claims. Velma is joined by a guest star, a pregnant Kerry Ellis the night I saw it, a drag artist the other way round called Mr Fox (Amanda Poser), a stripper and a lady who did things suspended from a rope, whose names I did not catch (there was no programme).
There was also a very good quartet with an especially beautiful lady playing the saxophone. Velma really was putting on a show. She is a splendid creation, a leggy broad with good legs and a tousled mane of red hair, although her waist leaves a little to be desired.
She is also an authentic belter, entering singing ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, and is nicely dangerous in the way drag queens should be. The problem is that Ian Stroughair keeps reminding us Velma is a man and jokes about male appendages are really for pub audiences although Danny la Rue, of sainted memory, used to crack them.
Velma could be as good a creation in her own right as Lily Savage, Mrs Shufflewick of immortal memory, and Dame Edna; Danny was always Danny.
But wistful ballads are not for Velma. ‘My Funny Valentine’ got murdered. She and Mr Fox also did a terrible routine to a sing-along song whose lyric was hugely unfunny – the audience didn’t bother joining in – while pretending to turn a patsy male in the audience into a drag queen. Song and routine should be ditched.
Their tap-dancing, however, was stunning and quite clearly a rather good double act could be worked up. Velma herself is undeniably a star – or more accurately perhaps a star in the making. It is up to Mr Stroughair to decide whether her future lies in cabaret or in pubs and gay clubs. As for the Matcham Room – décor naff; drinks reasonable; seating comfortable.
Velma Celli: Ian Stroughair.
Mr Fox: Amanda Poser.
Kerry Ellis: Kerry Ellis.