London -- In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock's come-on "The Birds is Coming," it can now be reported not only that "The Crazy Coqs is Coming" but that "The Crazy Coqs is Here." What is/are The Crazy Coqs? They is a new cabaret room, and in these parlous times when it's more usually reported that an intimate boite is shuttering, the fact that one has opened is a cause for celebration.
And what a room it is, settled in the lower reaches of Sherwood Street's Brasserie Zédel, mere seconds from Piccadilly Circus and its statue of Eros.. Round, or roundish, it's what you could call post-retro style moderne. The walls are shiny horizontal black-and-white stripes alternating with rippling red curtains. A mighty swatch of those red curtains throws the stage into relief. A large ceiling mirror reflects the venue, which on especially crowded nights might accommodate something like 80 revelers who may or may not be interested in how they look upside down.
Who knows what kind of the ready creators Jeremy King and Chris Corbin have thrown at the place, but it's certainly enough to signal that they mean business -- and with the right promotion, will get it. Any performer worth his or her salt beef will want to perform in the swanky precinct.
The first one to do so is Clive Rowe, who hails from theater -- not unlike many of the entertainers who've already trod Manhattan's new 54 Below podium. Having gotten his first whoop-dee-do notices in an out-of-town Carmen Jones a few decades back and going next into the Old Vic's Kiss Me, Kate revival, Rowe sticks to a show-biz theme and an autobiographical reference to his start in the Adelphi Theatre on The Strand. But not on the stage there. In that enclave he worked himself up to doorman, while honing his craft in the establishment's affiliated Rose's Front Stalls Bar.
That's why he calls his generous turn "Rose's Front Stalls Bar." During it, he honors his own career and the careers of many theater performers and writers. His grasp is broad and at times covers material he says he'd never get to sing from legit stages as well as numbers he admits he's too old to sing elsewhere -- Stephen Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around," for one. Before he's finished, he's delivered a moody "Moon River," a rowdy "Broadway Baby" and imitated Clarke Peters, an early hero of his.
The portly man -- famous here for delivering that portly man's anthem, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" in one of the always popular Guys and Dolls redos -- has a voice that ranges from sweet to gritty, though he sometimes allows his belting to become bellowing. Used to performing without a microphone in hand, he hasn't completely mastered the technique.
But give him time. He's already ably smashed the Champagne bottle over the room's bow, and booked to follow him are other bubbly Champagne toast-makers -- all tapped by super supper-club knowledgeable Ruth Leon. Due soon are Karen Akers, Issy van Randwyck, Rosie Ashe, Steve March-Tormé, KT Sullivan and Steve Ross. So go crazy, go The Crazy Coqs.