Live at Wilton's will be launched with a star-studded gala on July 1, featuring Sian Phillips, Hannah Waddingham, David McAlmont, Gywneth Herbert and Jessie Buckley. It will the first in a continuing program of cabaret performances that will include the winner of the recent Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year competition appearing on Sept. 17, with Jill Halfpenny (currently appearing in Legally Blonde – the Musical) in Jill Halfpenny Celebrates the Great British Songbook at a date to be announced.
According to press materials, it is generally assumed that the art of cabaret started in Paris at Le Chat Noir in 1881. In fact, Wilton's Music Hall opened its doors 23 years earlier and welcomed acts from not only the theatres of London but visiting international artists who would arrive straight from the docks and perform their cabaret shows in front of appreciative audiences.
The Live at Wilton's season is produced by Wilton’s Music Hall, under the direction of Frances Mayhew, with artistic direction by Nicky Gayner, and an advisory programming committee of producers comprising Neil Eckersley, Samuel Joseph, Neil Marcus and Hillary Williams.
Samuel Joseph is also behind a new season of cabaret performances that will launch at the Pheasantry, a celebrated restaurant on the King's Road in Chelsea, under the umbrella Live at the Pheasantry.
The opening season will begin with Jessie Buckley (finalist for the role of Nancy in the TV reality contest "I'd Do Anything" who has since appeared in the West End in A Little Night Music) June 26. It will continue with West End performers Cassidy Janson appearing July 4, Kelly Price July 18, Shona White July 25 and Australian performer Damion Scarclla performing his show The Bowlly Years Aug. 14. Also on the schedule are Claire Martin and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett appearing July 1-3, following sell-out performances over the past year at Kings Place, Pizza on the Park and New York's Oak Room at the Algonquin; London alternative cabaret icon Al Pillay July 16-17; and Simon Green bringing his show Travelling Light, seen in New York at Feinstein's at the Regency and 59E59 Theatre, to the Pheasantry July 22-24. Harry the Piano, previously house pianist on Channel 4's "Big Breakfast" and BBC1's "Johnny Vaughan Tonight," will appear Aug. 5-7; Gary Williams will appear Sept. 4 to debut his new show Gary Williams: That's Life; and further dates to include appearances by Fascinating Aida, Jason Robert Brown and Daniel Boys.
Originally a Georgian building and grounds designed to raise pheasants for the Royal Household to hunt, The Pheasantry saw its status among the fashion cognoscenti grow significantly in the 20th century as it constantly adapted to mirror an ever-changing London. In the 1930s it was home to both a dance school headed by famous Russian ballerina Serafima Alexandrovna Astafieva and a club where Dylan Thomas would drink, while the likes of Eleanor Thornton - the inspiration for the "Spirit of Ecstasy" Rolls-Royce model - and Eric Clapton have lived there; the rocker famously once had to escape out the back door to evade arrest by Sgt. Norman Pilcher, a notorious scourge of the music community in the sixties. "The Female Eunuch" was written within its walls, and it was where Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice discovered Yvonne Elliman, who would go on to star in Jesus Christ Superstar. In the 1970s, The Pheasantry became a nightclub, playing host to some of the earliest gigs by Lou Reed, Queen and Hawkwind, among others.
Wilton's Music Hall is located in Grace's Alley, off Ensign Street, London E1. To book tickets for Live at Wilton's, contact the box office on 0207 702 2789, or visit www.wiltons.org.uk for more details. The Pheasantry is located at 152-154 King's Road, London SW3. To book tickets for Live at the Pheasantry, contact the box office on 08456 027 017.