Review: The Velma Celli Show in London
Held at the Hippodrome Casino on the last Friday of every month...
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Triple threat Velma (or "Ian" as he accidentally dropped during a hilarious impression of Cher) has a killer body and a kick-ass voice, peddling old-time show tunes and modern pop done in the style of speak-easy seductress.
While that sounds like a hackneyed mix, the pep and honest enthusiasm of Velma buffs off any tarnish to utterly dazzle. The Velma Celli Show is in turns polished and unscripted, utterly charming and raucous, thanks to the ring-leader star who stands solidly front and centre through the gentle anarchy.
Velma is joined by some of the greatest stars from the West End: Jolie Papillon teasing with a sublime burlesque that even got this old queer's heart racing, and Katharine Arnold doing a breathtaking aerialist act. Musical director Joe Louis Robinson breathes life into some gorgeous music, turning a Toxic/Vogue mashup into a knockout show tune.
We were also fortunate to see Frances Ruffelle perform too; she seemingly had popped in just because she and Velma were such good friends. That's not a slight - Velma's good nature and bonhomie suffuses everything, and you can feel her love for her act and her audience, leaving you brimming with a real feel-good feeling by the time the curtain comes down.
If you're in the mood for an old style dinner-and-a-show, the surprisingly intimate atmosphere of the Matcham Room gives an up-close view of some real talent. One of the best nights out in town.
The The Velma Celli Show takes place at The Matcham Room, in London's Hippodrome Casino, on the last Friday of every month. For more information, click here.
Words Lee Binding, @leebinding.