I enjoy improvisation, and I enjoy musicals. When I was invited to review the opening night of Off The Top at the Crazy Coqs at the Brasserie Zedel I was intrigued. It’s always fun to watch something being created on the spot, a unique show just for that place and time.
Jason Kravits has done lots of guest spots in TV programmes across the pond, but this cabaret show is now in its fifth year of performance, promising a new show every night from audience suggestions of words, places and phrases.
Each show has a different special guest: for our performance it was Ruth Bratt, one of the improv group The Showstoppers. From the creation of Kravits’s character name and town of origin through to the titles and themes of songs, and their accompanying anecdotes, everything is made up on the spot. It’s an impressive feat which adds up to a cracking evening’s entertainment.
The show is intimate and warm, and Crazy Coqs was packed solid for the show. The band – John Thorn (MD/pianist), Jonny Gee (bass), and Sophie Alloway (drums) – display an easy chemistry and ability to follow any musical path suggested, from Sondheim pastiche to a folk song.
Expect fast and funny rhymes across the evening – I never thought I’d hear an American sing the praises of Grimsby, create a country piece from my dad’s former job of a (tennis) racquet stringer, or end the set on the wise advice of “Don’t Give a Shit” – weaving a story around the most basic of prompts.
It was fun to spent time in the company of cabaret artiste “Matthew Discovery, from Tulsa” for one night only, with his wet socks, lifeboats, and that lost Gershwin song “found in a bin, in Grimsby”. I particularly liked the easy listening style of “Health, Beauty, Love”, created for audience suggestions of “Words to live by”, which brought a touch of the Rat Pack to London’s theatreland.
Off The Top contimues until the 19 January, at 7pm, at Crazy Coqs. Remaining guests are Rachel Tucker, Stephen Frost, Joe Stilgoe, Sarah-Louise Young, Alan Cox and Le Gateau Chocolat (check the website for who’s playing each night), so there are untold possibilities ahead.
LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see Jason Kravits – Off The Top.