What's new, pussycat?
Globetrotting diva Le Gateau Chocolat returns to London with his first solo show at — where else? — the Menier Chocolate Factory. Seen performing this year with La Soirée and at the Priceless London Wonderground, the operatic singer who belts out works by (amongst others) Puccini and Bon Jovi is quite unlike anyone else we've seen.
Oh, yes. Chocolat may not be the first plus-size bearded black singer with a deep sexy voice but we can't remember the Walrus Of Love looking this fetching when dressed in lycra bodysuits or under more make-up than a Kiss tribute band. Chocolat's origins are also unique: he came to London from a Muslim African country at a young age and grabbed the opportunities here with both hands, eventually graduating in law from Sussex University.
So far, so Mo Farah.
True, but we're guessing Mo can't bring an audience to the edge of tears with a highly personal take on Radiohead's Creep or have them jumping around to Barbra Streisand's Don't Rain On My Parade. It might be wall-to-wall covers but Chocolat's rich voice gives these borrowed words an emphatic and emotional oomph whilst providing a visual spectacle. He rails against Britain's Got Talent, reclaims the word "asshole" as a term of endearment and between songs tells tales of being turned down by the Royal Academy of Music (we have no idea why he would not fit in there) and of religious parents who live in Nigeria and have no idea about their son's sexuality.
So is this cabaret or a concert?
A cornerstone of cabaret is audience interaction. No spoilers here but don't be surprised if you end up at some point sitting next to Chocolat or sharing his lycra fetish on stage before the show ends literally with a bang and multiple standing ovations. With the weather as good as it is now, there needs to be a good reason to spend over an hour inside a dark theatre. This is a fantastic reason. Go.
Le Gateau Chocolat will be at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 26 August. More information and tickets can be found here.
If you're lucky enough to get a ticket, one of the show's highlights is Nothing Compares 2 U, a song written by another shameless black musician.