Lenny Henry has been on TV my whole life and is a total legend as far as I am concerned! Some achievements that spring to mind are; winning New Faces, various variety and comedy shows, his own light entertainment shows, co-founding Comic Relief and later became an actor in TV shows like Chef. He has also recently won best newcomer in the London Evening Standard theatre awards, for his debut Shakespearean role as Othello.
So even with this history and feeling that I know this great entertainer, I still didn’t know what to expect from his live show??
Last night Lenny brought his autobiographical musical journey to Auckland’s ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre in his one man show ‘Cradle to Rave.’
Photo from http://www.the-edge.co.nz
The show covers the huge part music has played in Lenny’s life. This very personal anecdote explores his influences, memories and the power music has had over him.
The show started a little late due to a delayed flight, but only moments after an impatient audience member shouted ‘Lenny you’re late and you know you are’ he was on stage. There was no need to worry about this expert performer as he made the audience his own within seconds, silencing our friendly heckler for the rest of the show.
He began by warming up the crowd and getting us up to his energy levels. Soon he knew us well enough to call us ‘Auck’ and we were in full Lenny swing.
He was highly animated as he briskly bounced around the stage often interacting with the first few rows of the audience, returning to include them throughout his two hour performance.
Although I thought of Lenny Henry as ‘comedy establishment’ his performance was fresh and modern and is by no means dated or cheesy, unless done deliberately, Theophilus P.Wildebeeste springs to mind!
We could all relate to his excellent observations on dance moves through the decades in which he moved superbly. His impersonations, both musical and otherwise, are spot on and often random and surreal.
How does this all fit in to his musical journey? Well the show manages to weave through more traditional stand-up with a theatrical narrative style where music is played for comedy or dramatic effect, even with Lenny tinkling the ivories. It also covers Lenny’s musical career and talents which all come together flawlessly and never feel overly rehearsed enabling him to keep credibility with his stand-up roots.
His talent for music is obvious and his passion for it extremely infectious culminating in a finale that is sure to have everyone smiling as they leave!
If you want to find out how we get from Coldplay to slavery or hear Winston Churchil to the soundtrack of Back in Black then this is the show for you!
Lenny Henry has been a performer for as long as I can remember and this show proves the stage is exactly where he belongs and he’s not going anywhere!
He performs in Wellington at Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, 27 June!
Thanks to Elephant Publicity.