Preview: Upcoming Norfolk cabaret nights

Bourgeois & Maurice. Imagine: Magnus Hastings

Bourgeois & Maurice. Imagine: Magnus Hastings - Credit: Archant

The weird and the wonderful, the marvellous and the miraculous, the camp and the cheeky — going out need not be run of the mill. SIMON PARKIN previews five cabaret nights not to miss.


Open, Bank Plain, Norwich, February 9, £20, 01603 508050

All aboard Bo Nanafana Love Boat as it sets sail from at their new home — the 1,250-capacity Open venue — with a nautical one night stand of music, dance, cabaret and comedy.

And prepare yourselves for a jolly rogering from those purveyors of Filthy Swing, The Top Shelf Band — louche lotharios of miscreant musicality fronted by the gauche Gatsby-esque Arthur Foxaque — aka The Great Offendi.

Expect nudity and machine guns, and music endowed with the classic themes of betrayal, dark passions, revenge, Brazilian waxing and the dying art of letter writing. Impeccable swing tunes served up with obscene lyrics, a diabolic mash-up of Terry Thomas and Al Bowlly. Also providing the sounds will be Shellac Collective DJ Greg and very special guest DJ Natty Bo swabbing the decks, free and easy Swing City Dance Class to break the icebergs, delicious food from The Galley and tons of cabaret and cruise line entertainment.

Every show the social club, recently shortlisted twice at the Norfolk Arts Awards 2012, presents is theatrical, highly visual and beautifully choreographed and audience members are encouraged to dress for the occasion.

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For inspiration on the dress code this time: think Titanic, 70s Loveboat, Cruiseliner Chic, Nautical or 1940s Naval, fishnets and Seamen. Tickets are always like gold dust, so move quick to be aboard this voyage of disco-very that promises to be off the Beaufort Scale. Tickets are on sale from Open, Rock Collection and Soundclash or online.


Anstey Hall, Trumpington, Cambridge, January 26, £25 adv/£30 door, tickets still available online

Tiptoe along the sparkling frosty path to the enchanted Midnight Garden Ball as for their latest extravaganza the renowned Neon Moon Burlesque and Cabaret Club welcomes audiences exclusive access to the lavish heart of wonderful Anstey Hall in Cambridge.

A wonderfully decadent, glamorous evening is promised with some top internationally acclaimed burlesque and variety acts, including Sweden's most famous cabaret sweetheart Fraulein Frauke, Hollywood glamour in a little package Lena Mae and candy cute burlesque duo Cherry and Ruby. There will also be artful circus aficionados Wildfire, Minnie Le-Moocher & Cherry Go-Round and The Neon Moon Starlets, plus contact jugglers Crystal Wizard, Hocus Pocus Theatre and music from DJ Jazzlord.

Gasp at impossible feats of trickery and illusion and thrill at beautiful rose-adorned enchantresses delighting in the moonlight and discover the glittering spectres that appear at the 13th hour! Dress code exquisite vintage chic and let your imagination fly…


Norwich Playhouse, February 1, £15 (£13 cons), 01603 598598,

Ever come out of a musical thinking you could come up with a better plot? This improvised musical, gives you the chance. It is created from scratch at each performance using audience suggestions that the all-singing, all-dancing cast improvise with unpredictable and frequently hilarious results.

One thing is constant though, the award-winning production, which has played sell-out seasons in London's West End and at the Edinburgh festival, is packed with drama, dance routines and catchy melodies. Anyone who attended its previous visit will know to expect that evening that's simultaneously a pastiche, a parody and a paean to musical theatre.

By definition each performance is unique since it is made up on the spot but all the shows include singing and dancing, brilliant characters and a fantastic plot. If you want an idea of what to expect, track down Showstopper's Radio 4 series online.


St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth, March 30, £12, 01493 331484,

Treading the line between comedy, cabaret and a goth-pop-catwalk nightmare, Bourgeois & Maurice defy categorisation. The cult musical duo — real names George Heyworth and Liv Morris — are a sight to behold on a stage. Glitter, shoulder pads, metallics, smeared lipstick, towering beehives and as much eyeliner as you could ever loot from Superdrug. They have established themselves as one of the international cabaret scene's darkest, sharpest, funniest acts with their award winning catchy-as-hell songs, racking up performances around the world.

They arrive here with their latest show — Sugartits — which sees Georgeois Bourgeois and Maurice Maurice tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time and twist them into something altogether more bizarre. Covering phone-hacking scandals, ecological disasters and the sexual allure of a tax return, the pair set out to solve every issue of the 21st century using only a piano, a few plasticky instruments and a very warped sense of right and wrong. Littered with acid charm, sequins and marshmallows (don't ask) Sugartits scratches beneath the dark duo's glittering surface to reveal the beating heart of a world on the edge.


Norwich Playhouse, March 15, £15 (£13 cons), 01603 598598,

Following a fantastic run at last year's Edinburgh Festival, comedic conjuror Pete Firman has been getting five star reviews for his latest box of tricks Hoodwinker.

One of the leaders of the new breed of magicians — young, trendy and not afraid to break the rules — Firman became a familiar face after appearing in the second series of The Magicians, BBC1's prime time Saturday night reinvention of the magic show.

Dressed in a sharp three–piece suit and sporting a bow tie, trendy haircut aside, he could easily have been stepping out into a 1970s Working Men's clu. He may come on stage following a slick intro film featuring chums Derren Brown and Scottish magic duo Barry & Stuart, but there's something distinctly old school about him. He manages to come across as a 21st century throwback, harking back to end-of-the-pier entertainers of old, albeit with more hair gel, deliberately lo-fi props, swearing and double entendres. Plus he is charming, funny and adept at illusion and trickery. Expect amazing feats that defy logic, a fast and furious delivery of gags and astounding tricks that will leave you dumbfounded for days. 'I really get a kick out of seeing that amazed, astonished reaction from people,' he says. 'It's everything you put around the trick that makes it fun and entertaining.'