The overture is about to start,
You cross your fingers and hold your heart,
It’s curtain time and away we go,
Another op’nin’, another show
‘Another Op’nin, another show’ -Kiss Me Kate
For this evening’s event the Piano Bar (part of the Bristol Hippodrome) has been closed to the public and reserved for around 50 die-hard musical theatre lovers. The muted velvet chairs are arranged into rows adjacent to the bar, the lights are dimmed and four microphones stand in front of a grand piano; it has a speakeasy feel.
For this show, excitement and anticipation were high due to three BAOS (Bristol Amateur Operatic Society) members taking their place is this small but talented ensemble. There were six performers (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone) and all sang three to four songs: some solos, some duos etc. There was a good mix of well known ‘musical classics’ and die-hard musical fan numbers, sprinkled with a lot of humour (Charlotte Rowlands singing ‘In Short’ was a particular highlight). Obviously in a way (as a performer in the Secret Cabaret) you are performing to a captive audience, the tickets are £15 and you’ll probably need to take out a mortgage to afford a round of drinks, so it’s fair to say those who attend really want to be there which can only add to the atmosphere. To clarify the bar is run by the Hippodrome and not by Secret Cabaret so theatre goers will already be familiar with the types of prices you can expect. This all happened on a bank holiday weekend and by about 11pm I had consumed enough wine to reach ‘Millionaire mode’, re: when money becomes no object and your buying rounds like a baller! So I am dreading checking my bank account.*
*This was written pre–bank checking, I have since looked at my balance and can confirm I am now poor and have seriously looked into ‘which organs I could live without’.
Although the event is not a ‘secret’, it does inevitably attract certain individuals who have a love for performing or Musical Theatre, however I think this niche event would also be enjoyed by those who enjoy a modern cabaret (non-musical theatre) or open mic night as the format sits glamorously somewhere between the two. For those who love to get lost is a musical, you’ll enjoy the stunning vocals. There’s something so intimate about sitting two rows back from a talented performer. It gives a song you know a brand-new meaning or makes an unheard melody your favourite tune. I’ll always adore the set and choreography of a large production but this event has opened my eyes a little and will make me consider more unknown or ‘off-Broadway’ type performances in the future.
On top of being a fabulous night out Secret Cabaret also aligns itself with a local Bristol Charity BUST (Breast-cancer Unit Support Trust). The charity organisers and the Secret Cabaret compare were actively seeking donations during the intervals and 99p of every £1 donated goes to the charity so it was a very worthy cause.
I give this event 8.5/10. I felt the ticket price was very reasonable, the show a delight plus my girls and I hoodwinked the male ensemble and a cellist into drinks post event.* The only very slight let-down was the price of the bar, in-fact it’s not even the price, you’re looking at £8-9 per drink which I would happily pay in a fancy pants cocktail bar but the drinks served were just not up to that standard. Overall, a very small gripe in what was a wonderful event and one I am certain to visit again.
*post drinks with musicians not included in ticket price.
Thank you to the cast, musicians and all involved in the Secret Cabaret. And thank you to The Secret Cabaret Facebook page for the photos