So crazy they’re psycho, this cabaret’s a must-go
There were fireworks and fanfare in Tivoli last week on Tuesday when the London Toast Theatre Company celebrated the premiere of the 30th annual Crazy Christmas Cabaret. This year’s ‘Hitchcock-Up!’ saw a departure from the traditional Crazy Christmas formula, with leading lady and director Vivienne McKee doing her darndest to direct her cast in a Hitchcock-style film on stage, in spite of her cast’s (sometimes murderous) objections.
Despite the new formula, there were plenty of the recurring jokes and characters, including Dr Bent van Helsingør, McKee’s resident Danglish expert, a telephone call from Dronning Margrethe, and a cross-dressing dame by the name of Miss Marnie. As if Hitchcock’s extensive movie repertoire weren’t enough, the likes of ‘Mad Men’, ‘Singing in the Rain’, and even the iPhone-game ‘Angry Birds’ made an appearance in the show.
McKee’s troupe of veteran CCC actors David Bateson, Andrew Jeffers and Bennet Thorpe were joined by newcomers Julie Steincke and Henrik Lund. The former’s powerhouse vocals and the latter’s (shock!) Danish accent and unrestricted hip-pumping dance moves added youth and vigour to the seasoned chemistry of the cast and made for some bombastic musical numbers, the best of which had to be when a homicidal Lund sung ‘I like to use my dagger’ to the tune of Maroon 5’s ‘Moves like Jagger’. McKee herself proved that she does indeed know what tickles the Danes, as she spent a good part of the first act with an uncomplimentary Swedish accent.
After an explosive first half of master-of-suspense madness, which included a cross-dressing Marnie, Norman Bates (who incidentally also cross-dresses) and the only two female cast members arguing over who gets to play the Hitchcock blonde, the second act strayed from the Hitchcockian film formula and back into more CCC-friendly territory, as we left the Bates Motel for a Bavarian Oktoberfest with some very camp Nazis in very tight lederhosen.
The sexual puns and slapstick humour were available on tap throughout the three-hour show, with secretaries who “play hard to get and like to get it hard”, and a master of suspense who likes to be called ‘Hitch’, as he never uses the ‘cock’. Though in any other scenario the same jokes might be trite, the enthusiasm with which the actors deliver them is indeed downright crazy. Their enthusiasm is downright infectious, and with an audience so involved in the on-stage action, it’s no wonder the show has the mass-cult following that’s kept it going for the past 30 years. The feeling is mutual; as a hysterical audience member’s cackle brought Hitchcock himself (Andrew Jeffers taking a break from his residency as Miss Marnie) into a fit of on-stage laughs.
For this crazy Christmas virgin (McKee’s title for first-time CCC audiences), ‘Hitchcock-Up!’ was a grand introduction to the tradition of London Toast Theatre’s crazy Christmas. It’s three hours of singing, dancing, groin-gyrating madness that will guarantee a smile on the face of both Hitchcock experts and novices, CCC fans and virgins alike!
Crazy Christmas Cabaret