Rosie’s Front Stalls Bar: Clive Rowe at The Crazy Coqs

Rosie’s Front Stalls Bar
A musical cabaret with songs by Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, Douglas Furber, Arthur Rose, Noel Gay, Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, George & Ira Gershwin, Eric Maschwitz, Manning Sherwin, Oscar Brown Jr, Adele Adkins, Ryan Tedder, Irving Berlin, Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Laurence Tolhurst, Porl Thompson, Boris Williams, Roger O’Donnell, Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Sondheim, Paul Williams, Matt Dennis, and Earl Brent

Clive Rowe (singer) & Wendy Gadian (musical director & pianist)

Reviewed by: Tom Vallance

Reviewed: 15 October, 2012
Venue: The Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly Circus, London

A veteran of musical theatre who will soon be on the West End stage in a revival of Kiss Me, Kate, Clive Rowe won an Olivier Award in 1997 for his sterling portrayal of Nicely-Nicely in Guys and Dolls, bringing down the house with ‘Sit down, you’re rockin’ the boat’. He brings the same boundless enthusiasm, joie de vivre to his cabaret act, unveiled at The Crazy Coqs, a splendid Art Deco venue, an adjunct of Brasserie Zédel near Piccadilly Circus.

Accompanied by Wendy Gadian, Rowe starts his act with surprising biographical anecdotes (he was a champion ballroom-dancer at the age of seven!) combined with appropriate songs. The title refers to Rosie, the head barmaid at the Adelphi Theatre who would ask Rowe to sing for her customers when he was working there as an usher. Me and My Gal was running at the time, a cue for Rowe to sing the title tune and ‘Leaning on a lamp-post’. His baritone voice is big and bold, capable of limpid falsetto as well as sustained final notes that provide exciting climaxes.

Offbeat material includes a passionate rendition of ‘The music and the mirror’, the Marvin Hamlisch-Edward Kleban paean to dance from A Chorus Line, rarely performed outside the show, particularly by a man. It took me back to the afternoon in 1970 when I saw Ann Reinking (who had succeeded Donna McKechnie in the role of Cassie) perform the number at New York’s Schubert Theatre – I left the theatre trembling with excitement, and that tingling feeling returned hearing Rowe’s heartfelt performance. Other show-stopping moments include ‘Secret love’, ‘Bewitched, bothered and bewildered’ (expurgated) and another offbeat choice, Sondheim’s ‘The ladies who lunch’, which he combines with the same composer’s ‘Being alive’ (both from Company). ‘Broadway baby’ and a touching ‘Not while I’m around’ are also from Sondheim.

Rowe shows his crooning ability with such standards as ‘A foggy day’ and ‘A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square’, both chosen to evoke his feelings when, a native of Lancashire, he lived for the first time in London while attending the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He adopts an unusually jaunty tempo for ‘Our love is here to stay’ (and why not, since the song is a celebration of everlasting love), and for ‘Angel eyes’ he takes a more extrovert approach than we are used to, providing a thrilling ending to a stimulating evening.

  • Clive Rowe in Rosie’s Front Stalls Bar is at The Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Piccadilly Circus, London W1 until Saturday 20 October 2012, nightly
  • Bookings 020 7734 4888

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