I’ve been keen to see Bonnie and The Bonnettes for a while. They’re a regular at Alphabetti, and their show at Northern Stage And She sounded interesting, but somehow the timings have never worked out for me. So even though I had already booked Frisky and Mannish for the Friday, when I heard about the Bon Bons Cabaret, of which Bonnie and the Bonnettes are a part, were staging a Halloween-themed show on the Saturday, I threw my treasured sofa time to the wind and booked a ticket. (Two nights out in a row on a weekend? What am I? 30?)
Alas, the show didn’t quite live up to my expectations. In fairness, this was in part due to unfortunate timing. L and I had both been to the Frisky and Mannish show, which is all super slick professionalism and powerhouse vocals – it was perhaps natural that any smaller and less polished production would suffer in comparison (especially when there were moments when they pretty much covered the same material!).
The show, in the much more compact and in some ways more unforgiving space of Alphabetti, felt wildly uneven. A mix of comedy, singing and lip synch, it had the air of an end of year revue by a precocious group of 6th formers – everyone got a slot, irrespective of their level of talent, and some numbers dragged on way past their natural life. (I was also distracted by the fact that the father (I think – definitely ‘proud family’ vibe coming off them) of one of the performers was sat behind me, and kept recording stuff on his phone, which was sweet and all but added to the ‘school play’ atmosphere.
Some numbers worked well – a lip synch to Nightmare Before Christmas’ Oogie Boogie Song was a delight, as was a macabre take on I Know Him So Well. A Michael Myers / Jason face off was funny (though overlong), and the fast-paced ensemble Rocky Horror finale saw out the show on an energetic high. The cast are certainly talented, and remarkably personable. In fact, both L & I thought it would have been better if they’d just leaned into the show’s rough and readiness with a bit more humour: the least successful bits were the numbers going for full on rock star stylings, which are just too hard to pull off in a tiny space that cruelly illuminates any shortcomings in your vocals and the fact you’ve got some of the set’s fake cobweb cotton wool tangled around your high heels.
Still, we were definitely in the minority – most of the audience seemed thoroughly entertained – and at a mere 7 quid for a ticket (7 quid!) I was happy to have taken a punt, even if not everything was to my taste. (Or, at least, was to my tired, post-Frisky and Mannish comedown taste). One of the joys of Alphabetti is it gives you a chance to try new stuff virtually risk-free, either at its pay what you feel shows or at ticketed events like these, which still tend to be a bargain compared to most theatre prices.
If you fancy trying out the next Bon Bons show, they are doing a NYE party at Alphabetti: tickets on sale here.