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One Night With… Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jodie Steele

One Night With... Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jodie Steele
One Night With… Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jodie Steele

Down a side street in Leicester Square, behind a very unassuming entrance, past more guards and security checks than an airport lies Studio 88, the venue for the ‘One Night With’ series of events bringing us, the audience, closer to the people we see onstage in the West End so frequently.

Once past the rather intimidating entrance rigmarole the strains of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ by Guns ’n’ Roses floats up the stairs and it’s clear the house band have already warmed up and started their first set. Down the stairs, the venue opens out into a neon and LED lit basement expanse that’s the very definition of cool.

The agenda for the evening is set out as 10pm doors open for a pre-show mingle (timed to entice theatregoers who aren’t ready for the night to end) and then the main event runs 10:30pm through to midnight when the house band hit the stage once again to play us out into the wee hours and long past my bedtime. With the last tube leaving Piccadilly Circus at 12:26am it could work perfectly.

Making the most of the evening, we hit the bar and began taking everything in. The multi-coloured lighting and low ceiling make for a great looking venue and it’s a well thought out layout where everyone not afflicted with one of the pillars holding the building up has a good view of all the action.

The sound quality is great (although loud enough that the barman couldn’t hear my order easily) and it’s good to know that everything we hear is through a top-quality PA run by experienced engineers. The band do a great job of warming the evening up playing 4 Non Blondes, Queen, Eminem, Coolio and much more. I never got to see the list of songs you could choose from (or even if there is one) but I expect they could pull off just about anything to some degree.

Running about 20 minutes late, the main event for the evening begins with YouTube celebrity Doug Armstrong, our host for this week – there’s a different one every week – introducing the evening and giving a brief overview of our guests for the evening before smoothly inviting Jodie Steele to the stage. The open area in front of the stage fills up as he speaks and there is excitement in the air Jodie introduces herself slightly bashfully by pointing out that the song she’s about to perform has never been rehearsed with this band. Then she absolutely nails it with a rendition of one of the songs from Wicked that could easily have been mistaken for a full big band version. Full credit to the band for performing the song so well and to Steele for her unwavering performance under these new conditions. The applause is thunderous.

Settling things down, Armstrong and Steele run through a brief couple of interview questions before making way for our second guest, Carrie Hope Fletcher who performs an equally high-quality Les Miserable number before another interview session.

Sadly, the sound on the interview sections is a little quiet and battling a large group of people who won’t shut up and enjoy the event so even crowding toward the front of the stage it’s difficult to pick out everything that’s said. I do notice a fair few references to “what your Wikipedia page said” though, which is an unusual interview technique. Despite this, Steele and Fletcher have a great chemistry and would probably have had a good session chatting between each other if left to their own devices.

It’s not just songs from the two ladies’ respective musicals we’re treated to and not just solo sets as ‘So Much Better’ from the Legally Blonde musical forms part of a duo set and the interaction onstage is very reminiscent of the musical itself. I wonder if that’s the process of learning a song in musical theatre, picking it up verbatim including the directions and inflections.

Sadly, the evening running late means we have to dive out before the end to get the last tube home but overall, the well thought out mix of music and dialogue, appreciative enthusiastic audience, and lively atmosphere provided by the venue all come together into a great night. Topping up a night at the theatre or as a night out on its own, ‘One Night With…‘ is a varied, high quality, lively experience well worth going to.

4 stars

Review by Damien Russell

Hosted by YouTube sensation Doug Armstrong, the season kicks off on the Tuesday 16 October with One Night With… Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jodie Steele, leading ladies of Heather’s the Musical and two of the most sought-after stars of the stage.

October 30: Claire Sweeney, national sweetheart, star of the stage and screen. Hosted by James Barr.
November 6: Rob Houchen, currently making geeks tough in Eugenius! as Eugene. Hosted by James Barr.
November 13: Julie Atherton, the original Kate Monster in the West End’s Avenue Q. Hosted by James Barr.
November 20: Jordan Luke Gage, taking lead as Strat in Bat Out of Hell in the West End. Hosted by James Barr.
November 27: Sophie Evans, currently Glinda in Wicked and finalist in BBC’s Over the Rainbow. Hosted by James Barr.

One Night With…! is produced by Wiltax Productions, the production house behind the stagiest cabaret in the West End, The Show Goes On.

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One Night With…!
In the heart of the West End
at Studio 88, 47 Whitcomb St, London WC2H 7DH.

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