In Central London, directly under the West End’s Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Road lives The Phoenix Artist Club – a bar and home for creatives of all sorts and one of the rare independent venues left in the area. The venue, known for comedy, fringe theatre, musicals and more is expanding rapidly thanks to marketing director, Peter Dunbar. The club is now producing more of its own entertainment and making them ‘must-see’ events. Teaming up with creative Stuart Saint and ‘internationally-ignored superstar’ (her words, not mine), Vanity von Glow, the Phoenix Artist Club has created a weekly cabaret show where Ms. von Glow gives the audience an insight into her glamorous, sophisticated life – vodka, Baileys and Jagerbombs galore! The drag star is not only a well-accomplished singer but also a strong pianist and has the charm and wit to keep her audience entertained and laughing throughout. With soulful ballads, interesting downtown takes on pop classics and more, A Night in Soho seems like it could be one of the strongest shows for the Phoenix to date.
Before the rise of the show, Ms. von Glow was already headlining a Sunday show at the Phoenix for almost two years. A little bit more of a laid-back affair, her songs (as she would say, majorly on the theme of desperation) brought the crowds from Soho in and became a well-known night full of music and humour. However, with the more professional format of the new show, Ms. von Glow seems revamped, revitalised and ready to show everyone, Soho and beyond, why she is worth watching. Mr. Dunbar understands how hard it is to market and sell drag, especially to potential audience members outside the Soho social scene – but he believes there is a market and an opportunity to bring back old fashioned, entertainment with a bit more glitz, and glamour. The added sophistication and theatrical sense to A Night in Soho still keeps the area true to its roots, but people are able to sit down in the historic venue, have a cocktail and (to quote one of von Glow’s covers) ‘forget their troubles and get happy’ without worrying about the overcrowdedness and noise that Soho venues often face nowadays.
The show starts with the internationally ignored diva making a memorable entrance – the audience is transfixed and attention is not swayed at any time. In the two-act show, Ms. von Glow shows that she is starting to reinvent the modern drag queen whilst still remaining true to the roots of the glamorous art form. With Stuart Saint’s spectacular and expert sound and light design, the show elevates itself far above a simple drag show – transforming itself into one of the hottest nights out in Soho. Highlights include a big-band, sensual rendition of The Locomotion and the Vanity cover classic – any Celine Dion song.
Still in its early days, this show is only going to get better, more refined and more spectacular – which based on this opening night could catapult Ms. von Glow into an actual international stardom. The only way she is going to be ignored is by people deliberately doing so because people can’t stop hearing about her.
Review by Elliott Jordan
A Night In Soho With Vanity von Glow Sundays 8.30pm
Vanity von Glow enjoys a reputation as a main fixture in Soho cabaret and has enjoyed a continuous run of her popular Sunday night shows for five consecutive years, which has seen her perform with popstars Lily Allen and Sophie Ellis Bextor and appear on TV with superstar Adele.