Preview: The Return of the Regency Rooms

lenny beige

You can’t keep a good cult comedy night down. To mark its 20th anniversary Lenny Beige is re-opening the doors of the Regency Rooms for one night only. The gig takes place on June 20 at the Kensington Great Hall, and features a line-up of classic Regency Room acts, hosted by the high-kicking Mr Beige himself, who is returning from his seaside retreat in Hastings and donning his chunky rings and lucky suit for the soiree. 

Mexican Laurel and HardyFor a period in the mid-90s The Regency Rooms was the go-to night for a mix of showbiz glitz and the downright weird. Beige, aka Steve Furst, was the perfect host, dishing out compliments to the glamorous women and and barbed insults to the underdressed in equal measure in between delivering fiery versions of sixties MOR classics. The format looks like being repeated on June 20 with a few tweaks. Back in the day Robbie Williams and Matt Goss were known to pop up onstage. This time guests include original Regency Rooms regulars, soul crooner David McAlmont and film composer David Arnold alongside new acts and a number of comedians who have straddled the music/comedy divide in recent years.Shvitzing Brothers

Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller will be among the star attractions belting out a tune or two – not that singing is anything new to them. Former chorister Armstrong has recently had a crack at cabaret, while Miller appeared at that other cult club, Karaoke Circus. Fellow dulcet-toned guest Matt Berry, is best known for The It Crowd and Toast of London, but has also released a few albums.  

And lest we forget there will be some oddball acts popping up onstage too. Elephant Man Elvis does exactly what it says on the tin. He is the mind-bending creation of illustrator Paul Garner – he looks like John Merrick but sings Presley standards. Frank Sanazi – half-Hitler, half Old Blue Eyes – will also be present, alongside Charlie Vadge, Joe Cocker-Spaniel, Reverend 2Tone, Hampstead Village People, Skate Bush, Tina Turner Tea Lady, Geordie Gunther and more. Without this alternative Rat Pack of weirdos and oddballs the Regency Rooms would just be another camp, kitsch showbiz club. It's the mix of madness and MOR that makes it. Imagine a cross between Vic Reeves' Big Night Out and that scene in Goodfellas where Ray Liotta is guided to the best seat in the house.

mike battSadly some of then original acts are otherwise engaged next Friday. Sacha Baron Cohen (pictured above right, all pics © Paul Simper) used to appear at the club as half of Jewish double act The Schvitzing Brothers. Womble maestro Mike Batt (pictured left) donned a furry suit when he popped down and before he joined the Little Britain ensemble comedian Paul Putner, who will be there this Friday as oriental artiste Frankie Tan, was half of a Mexican version of Laurel and Hardy (pictured top). Guy Chambers, who was musical director of the show before teaming up with Robbie Williams, will also be back on June 20.

Lenny Beige did not retire completely when the club closed down. The lost lovechild of Anthony Newley still crops up here and there, but it is a long time since his classic club was in full swing. There were attempts to put The Regency Rooms on television. I think that at least one pilot was made. But the trouble was that you really had to be there. What was that? You weren’t Well you can put that right on June 20.

The Regency Rooms returns on June 20. Tickets available here.

 

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