Harold Sanditen, who hosts the regular jam/open mic at Crazy Coqs on Thursdays, and whose show Flying High is there from Mar 31st to April 2nd, explains the background to the singing debut of the renowned South African-born actor and theatre director, and holder of eight honorary doctorates, DAME JANET SUZMAN. He writes:
When Dame Janet Suzman agreed to make her singing debut in a duet with me, I almost did back flips. When she chose a fun and frothy Dave Frishberg song, Let’s Eat Home, over a more serious medley in Greek and English, I was über-impressed. Suzman is one of the most talented and respected leading actresses of our time, and a stunner, to boot! Frishberg is all witty word play, so that plays on her acting, but the song’s pretty syncopated, and the internal rhymes make it a bit complicated.
Then she told me she’d like to join me on stage on April 1st. OK, I thought, it’s a joke, but it’s not, and given her stage credentials, I knew she would never agree to something at which she couldn’t excel. She’s no fool, April or otherwise. Then she decided to duet over two nights, just to get it perfect, so will be singing on both 31st March and 1st April.
We met on the board of LAMDA, but I’d known of her for years before that from her first film Nicholas and Alexandra(1971) for which she received an Academy Award nomination, and her Cleopatra is still considered definitive.
Once she agreed to sing with me, I commissioned a new verse for the song, split the lyrics between us, and sent her a “script” and a recording so she could rehearse in the sun in South Africa, before returning to London for a live rehearsal.
Everything fell into place within a few hours, so it was kismet, and soon we’ll be FLYIN’ HIGH together at the Crazy Coqs. This is my highly comic show about travel – covering the 65 countries I’ve visited so far. My song choices are always eclectic – in this show, ranging from Bacharach and the Beatles, through to Jobim and Weill. She’s also planning to sing a solo, but hasn’t let me know what that will be just yet. I can’t wait to find out! If she tells me a Horace Silver song, I’ll just laugh and say “of course!”
What’s equally exciting is that the show will be recorded over three nights as the first “live at the Crazy Coqs” CD. So I’ll have a CD released in the autumn with Dame Janet Suzman on it?!!! WOW!
From the Crazy Coqs, FLYIN’ HIGH goes on a world tour. I’m lucky to be travelling with my UK musicians, Michael Roulston and Jonty Fisher. It’s more like a working holiday – San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. We’re driving up the Californian coast along Highway 1, then making our way to NYC before returning to London and then heading to Paris and Montenegro. I have my eye on Madrid, Lisbon and Berlin, too….
Several people asked me, “How did you know Janet Suzman can sing?” Answer – “I asked!”
Harold Sanditen’s FLYIN’ HIGH is at The Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, London W1 from Tuesday, March 31st to Thursday, April 2nd at 8 pm prior to a major tour.
LINKS: Crazy Coqs website