Above the Stag relaunch!

Last night it was exciting to be in a real, live theatre space to experience Above the Stag’s new Cabaret Lounge – formerly the smaller of the two theatre spaces.

A launch season curated by Tim McArthur opens on the 20th May and runs to 23rd June, showcasing thirty shows and a range of performers. We saw seven of them here, giving a flavour of what to expect across the season.

With the incomparable queen of drag Kitty Scott-Claus as host and spiky commentator, the hour of showtime just zipped along and it was a joy to be with other people laughing, clapping, and having a good time.

Although the Stag is an LGBTQIA+ venue, in fact the only deficated theatre to operate as such, it currently attracts a largely male clientele – ladies, don’t be put off! This is a friendly, lively, welcoming place which welcomes, as chairman Matthew Baldwin emphasised, “all flavours” and colours of the rainbow.

On to the acts. Paulus (aka ‘The Cabaret Geek’) pays tribute to the late Victoria Wood and her music in his show Looking for Me Friend. He is a talented singer who is totally at ease in the format, chatting about his childhood and how ‘Vic’ and her characters became firm friends.

Jimmy Lavender, whose show is Lavender Live, had a number about a one night-stand. One line makes plain the mountain still there to climb for acceptance of difference, “he asked if I saw him on the street, ignore him”. Billed as the “jazzy genderbending Jezebel Geordie”, Lavender promises saucy tales and song classics.

The Eurovision: Your Decision is a sure crowd-pleaser and has sold out yet again. Lucie Penrose gave us a taster with a hilarious performance of ‘Euphoria’ which was in the contest proper in 2012!

You may have seen David Breeds (who is standby lead in Dear Evan Hansen) in his viral TikTok videos – here we were treated to his multi-persona in a spoof on the opening number of The Book of Mormon, before the man himself came to the stage. Great vocals and personality.

Vikki Stone is performing alongside Natasha Barnes in the season, but here she was solo, with a couple of sharply obserbed numbers including a comic look at drinks cabinets and their questionable contents (“blue curaƧao, what the f-ck is that?”).

Cabaret’s premier comic chanteuse, Adele Anderson, brings her new show, Love, Hate, and Everything Inbetween to the venue. Teasingly, her two numbers here are not in it, but as entertaining as ever as To Keep My Love Alive (“when I’m ill at ease, I kill at ease”) and I Who Have Nothing (reimagined as a stalker’s love lament) showcased her twisted professionalism.

Finally, Hairspray‘s new Tracy, Lizzie Bea, btings her own show My Musical Journey to the venue. With a big voice and even bigger personality, Bea lit up with stage with numbers from Heathers and Kinky Boots.

For full listings and to book into the shows in the Cabaret Lounge season, go here.

Also announced last night was a new programme for the theatre, curated by Matthew Baldwin. Contact will showcase six new shows by emerging writers, created at Above the Stag and accompanied by Q&As at each performance.

Check out Contact, which opens 9 June, billed as “stories of division and unity” and book in here.

Many thanks to Above the Stag for the invite. We had a great time!

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