Alexandra Da Silva: La Petite Divatante, The Pheasantry ★★★★½

Reviewed for The Reviews Hub.

There is something about supreme confidence in a cabaret performer which is essential to audience enjoyment, particularly when the artist in question is not as familiar names as some. Alexandra Da Silva is one such performer – although those who saw recent Kander and Ebb tribute show The World Goes Round, either here at the Pheasantry or at its transfer to the St James Studio, will be familiar with her winning personality and killer belt.

Da Silva addresses her height (she is 5’0”) readily and with great cheer, noting how many great divas are of a similar stature, including Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. This forms the basis of a reworked rendition of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid, with new lyrics by cabaret comedian Christina Bianco about longing to be able to stand closer to the sun and wear flat shoes. But the rest of Da Silva’s numbers are more traditional fare, the actress choosing to have her intra-song banter provide the comedy rather than relying on modified lyrics.

And the song selection is one for lovers of lesser known musical theatre numbers. The most well known musical sources in the first act arePippin and Dreamgirls, while elsewhere in the set list Da Silva highlights composers from Jason Robert Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lance Horne to Kerrigan-Lowdermilk, Adam Gwon and Finn Anderson (writer of 300 Feet from urban musical Streets), a welcome British composer among a predominantly American selection.

In each act, Da Silva brings on a friend as a guest, allowing them a solo song before joining them for a duet. Act I’s guest, Carolina Gregory, is the more successful of the two, presenting a solo number from Broadway show Catch Me If You Can. Vangelis Polydorou, a featured contestant on this year’s series of TV talent show The Voice, gives a short audition performance of Always On My Mind to a backing track, and with an emphasis on showing off his vocal trickery than in giving a rounded delivery for the benefit of an audience.

Polydorou’s performance notwithstanding, the second act of Da Silva’s set is looser and includes a number of more comedic narrative songs that allow the singer’s infectiously bubbly personality to shine through. From Kander and Ebb’s Ring Them Bells to the screwball Screw Loose (from Cry Baby the Musical), Da Silva’s eclectic song choice provides a cabaret set which is refreshingly different from those of similar vocalists.

Apart from a rousing encore performance of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, Da Silva finishes with the inspirational Lance Horne ballad Last Day on Earth. It embodies the obvious joy Da Silva has for her art – an infectious enthusiasm which carries over to the audience as any great cabaret should.