On December 8, a sold out house at London’s intimate Boulevard Theatre enthusiastically welcomed Nicole Scherzinger who shared that this is her first venture into cabaret (following two nights in New York last month). One would never have known, such was the polish and skill both in choice and organisation of material, and the craft of her performances. It is easy to hear that hers is an accomplished voice which is not only highly versatile but also ideally suited to the rigours and subtleties of show songs.
Nicole has a natural ability to make people relax – she makes herself -and you- feel right at home from the start. Her personality shines through in authentic, warm and funny interactions with both audience and her impressive eight-piece band squeezed onto the smallish stage. Opening with a cheeky and smoky I Put A Spell On You, Nicole ran through a nicely-shaded selection of songs, from the show tunes of Sondheim (Losing My Mind/Not a Day Goes By), Lloyd Webber (Memory/Don’t Cry For Me Argentina), Paul/Pasek and Yeston (a tender recital of the haunting Unusual Way) to a soulful evocation of Prince’s Purple Rain and a brief mixed revisit to the meaty beat of the Pussycat Dolls’ Don’t Cha.
There was much fun, too, as Nicole not only gently lampooned her star status, but gave us a very funny parody of Jimmy Webb’s MacArthur Park, which pulled off the tough trick of making the audience giggle whilst simultaneously admiring her vocal power.
Finishing with a costume change and a bravura display in the very funny Show Off (from the underappreciated The Drowsy Chaperone), this was a fantastic, tight and consistently engaging show. The 75-minutes set literally flew by.
In the audience were Sir Trevor Nunn and designer John Napier as well as many more show-folk who were no doubt enjoying this sampling of her impressive musical CV and filing the memory away for potential future castings. Quieter moments were sensitively and carefully chosen and it was particularly heartwarming that Nicole dedicated her show to her “friend, acting coach and mentor” Leigh Kilton-Smith, in the audience that evening, who it turns out had worked hard together with Nicole in polishing and refining the format of the show prior to its New York dates.
As regards the intimate 150ish-capacity venue, on a night off from its debut show, the fantastic GHOST QUARTET, the recently opened Boulevard Theatre showed its versatility in being reconfigured very successfully for cabaret.
Showing a masterly command of excellently-chosen and arranged material as well as showing her delightful, playful personality, and judging by the huge appreciation and standing ovation of this audience, there is a lot more that Nicole Scherzinger could do in the cabaret sphere should she choose to.
Nicole Scherzinger played The Boulevard Theatre on December 8th and 9th