The stylishly sophisticated Hippodrome Casino is exactly the right venue for this glamorous, exquisitely fun evening of songs, bendy men and burlesque, hosted by the very fabulous Velma Celli.
Each of the performers are a delight, but none outshine Velma herself, who sings and dances her way through the evening with a dazzling presence that is captivating and hugely enjoyable. The alter-ego of Ian Stroughair, a well known name on the West End stage in his own right, Velma takes the drag concept to whole new dizzy heights, ably accompanied throughout by Musical Director, Joe Louis Robinson.
This evening’s guest performer is Jordan Lee Davies, who recently appeared on The Voice. He is a little lost on some of the harder notes of his otherwise beautiful rendition of ‘Just Like A Pill’, but leaves us in no doubt of his vocal capabilities when he performs ‘Suddenly Seymour’ as a duet with Velma Celli. My notes from his performance simply state “Every so often, hits a note that is so perfect it’s f**king scary!”
Amanda Posner has a voice so smooth it is like melted chocolate and is a genuine privilege to hear. Posner returns in Act 2 as her alter-ego, Mr Fox, who adds a fabulous twist when he duets with Velma. It is a rare treat indeed to see a Drag King and Queen duet performed with such vocal precision. Their ‘Ode to Kerry Katona’ is comedy gold, and sums up what the majority of their audience feel about Katona’s recent casting as Marilyn Monroe in Norma Jeane the Musical.
An extra dose of glamour, delight and sensuality arrives in the form of Jolie Papillon, who teases us to breathtaking perfection. Everything a burlesque performance should be, Ms Papillon’s routine is sexy, funny, expressive and very, very cheeky. I have long been a fan of burlesque when it is performed well, and this is an absolute pleasure to watch.I mentioned bendy men earlier, and the first of these is Jonathan Finch who is listed simply as a “hand balancer,” which does neither him nor his act any real justice. Finch performs acts of strength, balance and, yes, bending that frankly defy the laws of physics.
Another bendy man comes in the form of Ben Brown, who performs some of the best aerial hoop work I have seen. A visual treat, Brown is stunningly attractive and it is hard not to be mesmerised by the sheer physical perfection of his boxer short-clad body. However, the grace and dexterity he displays with his hoop soon outshine anything else as he twists into seemingly impossible shapes with breathtaking precision.
All too soon, the evening is over, and I leave the Hippodrome with that wonderful rush that can only be gained from seeing something so exceptionally wonderful. I am left in no doubt that the name on everybody’s lips is, indeed, going to be Velma.
Velma Celli next performs at the Hippodrome Casino on 22 August. Tickets range from £10-£30 and are available from http://www.hippodromecasino.com/velma-celli-show.