Life will be a cabaret at Lauderdale House, old chum

PUBLISHED: 16:58 05 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:31 07 September 2010

LAUDERDALE House s annual cabaret season is now underway with West End performers creating intimate evenings of song and anecdote at the Highgate arts centre. Gabriel Vick (La Cage Aux Folles, A Little Night Music, Cabaret, Avenue Q) showcases both Britis

LAUDERDALE House's annual cabaret season is now underway with West End performers creating intimate evenings of song and anecdote at the Highgate arts centre.

Gabriel Vick (La Cage Aux Folles, A Little Night Music, Cabaret, Avenue Q) showcases both British and American composers, including Charles Miller and Bobby Lopez, on November 8.

Shona White (Wicked, Rocky Horror Show, Mamma Mia) stars on November 15 fresh from appearing alongside Elton John in concert.

And Nicole Faraday, best known as Snowball Merriman in ITV's Bad Girls, will appear on November 22.

The next concert on October 25 features Ray Shell, who created the role of Rusty in Starlight Express and has gone on to appear in Miss Saigon, Gone With The Wind and Five Guys Named Mo.

"I'll be singing a selection of songs which I like, including some from Hair, the show that got me into this business, a few Sondheim numbers and pop soul arrangements of songs like Dancing In The Street," says the native New Yorker who attended Emerson College in Boston before breaking into what he calls "the first wave of rock musicals" in the 70s.

Shell arrived in Britain in 1978 in time to board Lloyd Webber's train of unbroken successes throughout the 80s.

"A gospel show brought me here and I never went back," he says.

"To be a theatre performer takes a different kind of stamina than a film performer. Doing eight shows a week, roller-skating with a certain element of danger, singing and dancing, is very physical."

Shell, whose first performances were singing at his parents' Pentecostal church hasn't always appeared in successes. Last year, he was among the cast of Trevor Nunn's now legendary flop Gone With The Wind.

"We were one of the first victims of the credit crunch and it was devastating for many people," says Shell.

"With so many internet critics like the West End Whingers, who post up vitriolic criticism as soon as the show opens, it's much harder these days for a musical to grow organically. The show was worthy and deserved to find an audience. People said it was long but I remember seeing a five-hour version of Les Miserables at the Barbican. It could have easily closed but they cut it down and it was a success."

These days, Shell is performing cabaret to keep his hand in while spending his time as artistic director at the Lion and Unicorn pub theatre in Kentish Town.

Forthcoming productions include the musical Oliver!

"It's a chance to show what I have learned from working with the best directors in the country. I enjoy directing much more than performing and I am trying to bring in people to the Lion and Unicorn to express their creativity."

Bookings for the cabaret season on 020-8348 8716 or at www.lauderdalehouse.co.uk.

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