St James Theatre Studio is a sophisticated modern venue with a dynamic atmosphere and a sense that the night will be very exciting. One of its newest additions, The Craig Christie Songbook, is certainly no exception, with songs ranging from ‘You’ve got to stay connected, that’s how to be popular’ to ‘I want a main course mama’, this show is a cabaret night filled with charm and humour.
Sitting at the side of the stage, playwright and song writer Craig Christie gave us a personal insight into who he writes for and why; for example being a teacher inspired him to write musicals for students. He gave us an overview of each song, explaining its meaning, enabling us to concentrate on the lyrics being performed, all of which were sung by prominent West End and Broadway stars.
We were first introduced to songs aimed at young teens, and the song ‘Stay Connected’ is cleverly written yet lacks any strong emotions, leaving me on edge and hoping that not all of Christie’s songs were so high-school themed. However it proved to be a good start, slowly easing us in. The songs that followed were filled with definite impact. On the other hand, the second song aimed at teens (about their embarrassment about having crushes), showed off Christie’s talent for writing: the subtext was impressive, hinting at a flood of emotion, and the performers contributed with their accurate portrayal of shy teenagers.
The songs started to get more bluesy, with ‘Woops’ being premiered to the world. This was a song about trying to get over a lost love, written in an amusing way and looking at how strange people sometimes seem through heartbreak. We then got the pleasure of hearing songs such as ‘Allowed to fly’ from Christie’s 2009 musical Jungle Bungle, and ‘When your dreams come true’ from Knock Knock! Who’s There which were pleasant and awakening songs, able to move people of all ages and to give the singers great opportunities to show off their voices. Then Christie gave us upbeat pieces full of sexual innuendo to provoke the audience into lively chuckles, with a phenomenon of a song ‘Main Course Mama’ and the jazz inspired, ‘I want Chocolate’.
During the second half of this show, Craig Christie took the opportunity to also advertise his upcoming musical Villainy, and premiere the songs from it in London. The Craig Christie Songbook was a fabulous way to broadcast this eccentrically intelligent writer’s work, and an enjoyable emotional whirl-wind night sitting on comfortable sofas with a drink. As Christie said ‘Watch out London! I Live here now’.
The Craig Christie Songbook played at the St James Theatre. For more information on other shows and to book see the St James Theatre website.