Wow! Just wow! I am struggling to find a more cohesive description for the show I saw tonight. I admit I knew a few of Fats Waller's songs before I saw the show but now I know there are a lot more great songs in his songbook.
Firstly, I have to comment on the staging of this production. The Mercury Theatre transformed into a Harlem jazz club with an extended stage at least double its normal depth, four of the five musicians on stage and some truly inspirational lighting design. This show was quite reminiscence of Five Guys Named Moe but ...due to the talent of the cast and creatives it delivered its own Fats Waller hit!
The five cast members all delivered song after song impeccably, covering a wide range of emotions and stories. As a choreographer and lover of all dance I was excited to see what Oti Mabuse would bring to the stage and her choreography did not disappoint – however what made it even more appealing was the delivery by the cast members whose energy and excitement just made it captivating to watch. Tyrone Huntley direction was also what made this so enjoyable to watch with simple delivery but also some beautiful attention to detail. I'm Black and Blue was a Triumph.
All five cast members, the three ladies – Renee Lamb, Landi Oshinowo and Carly Mercedes Dyer worked seamless as a trio but also had some fantastic comedic moments fighting over the two guys Adrian Hansel and Wayne Robinson. We often talk about great stage presence and delivery and this was there tonight in abundance – a masterclass!!
Renee had great vocals and could clearly dance as she gave us sass and attitude in all her performances, Landi had such a great ease in her performance which has obviously been honed in her career and this made her a real joy to watch but it was Carly who stole my heart tonight – her Yacht Club Swing was a real belly buster, her crazy characterisations and then her equally moving slow number in Act 2 showed the breadth of her talent.
Both boys delivered great numbers – I really liked Wayne’s delivery of The Viper’s Drag – a song I have never heard before but that I absolutely loved. However, I have to say I struggled to keep my eyes of Adrian – not only was he a performer with such style and presence in his delivery but he was also a really amazing dancer with great lines.
What makes this show work is the levels of energy and pizzazz from the cast. While there is no real dialogue to link the show it is the musical numbers that make it work.
Forget Brexit, forget the sad news stories we hear daily - get to the Mercury Theatre and see this toe-tapping, feel good show which will undoubtedly have you clapping along and smiling from ear to ear!!