Carol Cates sits on a tall stool strumming away on her ukulele and chatting with the audience as they arrive. She is draped in a black hood and flowing dark fabric so that, framed by the arch of the performing space, she appears like a siren or a guardian of the netherworld but with witty banter and an indifferent charm. Cates even has a brief chat with another act in the front row which inspires me to check out his show too.
One of the best musical comedy solo acts in the business
As this is cabaret, Cates opens with the guilty pleasure pop hit, Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun performed as an anthemic torch song. She defines herself as a chanteuse and takes a moment to define what that is and gives us some very funny examples of the styles employed by self-proclaimed chanteuses. It’s a great way for her to open the show before moving on to her original material.
Cates is a supremely talented lyricist and she has crafted a selection of songs and stories that cover many subjects from dentistry to orgasms, taking in poo, dating, death, and her overly honest granny along the way. Her re-telling of the classic fable of The Little Red Hen is an inspired an hilarious aside.
Tell Tale is the perfect title for this delightful show. As both a tell-tale and in telling us her life stores, Cates continues to solidify her reputation as one of the best musical comedy solo acts in the business. Her songs are well-written, witty, and often poignant. With so much emphasis placed on girls with ukuleles being some sort of a fad in cabaret in a way that would never be questioned were it a bloke singing silly songs about poo, Carol Cates stands out as a must see act regardless of your preconceptions.