Le Gateau Chocolat & Jonny Woo: A Night at the Musicals at Soho Theatre review: riotously entertaining

 (Soho Theatre)
(Soho Theatre)

Brace yourselves. Cabaret stars Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo say they are going to perform every single musical hit from the past 90 years in their new show. Even limiting it to songs they love this would probably require them to bend time and space. But while they miss a few classics, boy do they deliver.

This is a firecracker of a set that starts on such a high with a stirring rendition of All That Jazz, you wonder if they can keep it up all night. And then they go even higher. At one point Woo finishes a number naked on the floor. And that’s only halfway through the gig.

These are no mere karaoke cover versions. Gateau and Woo are two cults, both bursting with personality. They are a natural double act, variously describing themselves as “the French and Saunders of Drag” and, more topically, “the Harry and Meghan of drag”.

Gateau, who has appeared at venues from Glyndebourne to the Globe, has a showstopping multi-octave voice. Woo, who co-owns gay pub The Glory in Haggerston, has cheek, charm and a winning line in smutty wit, at one point turning Singing in the Rain into an absolute shower of filth.

There are heartstoppingly tender moments too, usually from Gateau, including a stripped down rendition of McArthur Park. Grease fans will be delighted by the Olivia Newton-John content.

 (Soho Theatre)
(Soho Theatre)

The clowning is gorgeously knockabout, with interpretative dance and high kicking choreography that definitely seems to have taken its cue from the aforementioned French and Saunders rather than the Royal Ballet.

Some songs are delivered more straight than others but all, well, almost all, are performed with affection and a clear love for the genre. Which does not stop them sending it up. At one point Gateau shimmies in a Little Mermaid costume while Woo toys playfully with a plastic shark’s head.

The risk is that the songs are upstaged by the outfits. But countless costume changes make each song feel special. A highlight is a megamix of Memory from Cats and Khia’s My Neck, My Back with Gateau resembling a giant fur ball.

Elsewhere Woo croons in a baby doll outfit, which, he touchingly explains in a rare serious moment, he inherited via a friend from a cross-dressing farmer. Sitting in my jeans and jumper I’ve never felt so underdressed. Thankfully, apart from a brief Rocky Horror Show singalong, audience participation is minimal.

Maybe the duo’s definition of a musical feels on the baggy side, but let’s not be pedantic and make a song and dance about genres. Just go and enjoy a riotously entertaining and occasionally moving show.

Soho Theatre, to January 21; sohotheatre.com