Tori Scott needs to tell baristas in the sort of coffee shops that write customer names on paper cups in marker pen that it’s Tori With An ‘I’. While there may be some people out there who wouldn’t have a problem being literally labelled Tory (with a ‘y’) on a coffee cup, for Scott, considering what her political views are in any event, it’s far from desirable. The show is not political in nature overall, even if it does include a clarion call to protect the National Health Service (that is, from those who wish to change its main funding source from general taxation to health insurance policies). There’s much talk of Scott’s experiences as an American who has resettled in Britain and found herself on a UK tour with The Cher Show.
Evidently, someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, she’s taken the harsh realities of being in the entertainment industry in this country in her stride, and some vague thoughts of living it large in a townhouse in Mayfair have long been sidelined for navigating the country on tour in the face of industrial action on the railways. They don’t have a tour bus, she points out, “just a rail replacement bus”. Some other interesting insights into being an actor in a touring production lay bare the challenges cast and crew face, though Scott regrets nothing, having made friends with others in the production. To prove the point (not that it really needed proving), a co-star from The Cher Show, Danielle Steers, was introduced to the audience, and the pair did a rather beautiful rendering of ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ from Rent.
Scott’s show contained an almost ridiculous range of songs, some of which were combined into ‘mashups’ (inverted commas mine, as Scott, doesn’t use that term), crossing back and forth between musical theatre and chart music. B*Witched, an Irish girl group that split up in 2002 after being dropped by their record label but reformed in 2013, was namedropped several times, with the encore number being one of their greatest hits, ‘C’est La Vie’. The audience was invited to join in (just for this very last number, mind you) – and I’m relieved I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t a clue what the lyrics were: Scott herself took out a printout and read from it.
Scott quickly established a strong rapport with the audience, with the many observances about the way things are done (or, indeed, not done) in Britain being a source of hearty laughter – the show was as much of a stand-up comedy night as much as a concert. “It’s too expensive to stay alive,” she wryly observes, which ranks amongst the very best definitions of the term ‘cost of living crisis’ I’ve come across to date. Not a minute is wasted in this briskly paced show, with musical director Ben Papworth skilfully keeping pace. There are even stories told between verses.
Her powerhouse singing voice delivers every lyric with crystal clarity, and the good humour with which she faces life is crowd-pleasing but also inspirational. A highly enjoyable night out, and a standing ovation richly deserved.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Tori with an “I” is a celebration of survival, martinis, and new beginnings. With songs by an eclectic range of artists including Lady Gaga, Liza Minnelli & Queen, Tori will blow you away with her “powerhouse vocals” (The Curtain Up Show).
Show: Tori Scott: Tori with an “I”
Producer: New Frame Productions
Dates/Times: Sunday 5 February 2023 at 7.00pm; Monday 6 February 2023 at 9.15pm
Venue: Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, London, W1F 7ED
Running Time: 75 minutes (no interval)