Review: Stunning voice, polished performance
Songs to Make you Smile delivers exactly what it says on the tin.
It is a gentle and old-fashioned night of musical cabaret animated by a passion for these sweet and whimsical vintage tunes.
British diva Lili la Scala takes us through her hand-picked selection of lovely songs by everyone from Gracie Fields to Cole Porter and George Formby to Irving Berlin. Highlights includes a Cole Porter song about an oyster’s adventures in high society and a Gracie Fields song about two sheep in love.
Each song is brought to life by la Scala’s stunning singing voice and polished performance. La Scala is a festival regular and it is lovely to see her graduate to her own cabaret show, which she has successfully toured Europe over the last few years.
Lili la Scala’s diva persona is haughty, posh and slightly bossy, but ever so loveable. She banters with pianist Richard Healey and the audience between songs, adding just enough sass to give this gentle selection of songs a little bit of edge. There are little moments of comedy as she struggles to remain elegant while mounting a piano or reclining on a chaise longue wheeled in for her stylish comfort.
She also talks about how much the songs mean to her, including how she found the vintage sheet music for one number after rifling through an Invercargill antiques store. She has clearly gone the extra mile to track down these obscure, but delightful, songs from a bygone age. They are curated with love, delivered with charm and sung with skill.
Songs to Make you Smile is perfect for an older audience perhaps turned off by the edgier cabaret and burlesque on offer at the World Buskers Festival. It shows the range on offer by the festival, catering for everyone from very young children on the kid’s pitch in Hagley Park to the vintage charms of this show.
It’s a simple feelgood formula - great voice, lovely songs and amusing banter. What’s not to like?
Every night at 5.30pm at Christ’s College auditorium.