James Albrecht is the Associate Artistic Director of the St James Theatre with particularly responsibility for the St James Studio – a wonderful new cabaret space in London. It’s a special room – from the location, layout, wood paneling and state of the art sound equipment. One thing that sets the Studio apart most other rooms is the built in digital video equipment and broadcast equipment. Now, for a reasonable fee, it’s possible for anyone to have their show filmed or professionally recorded. It’s an incredibly easy way to have your own DVD or professional show reel.
We tackle the tricky question of what cabaret actually means. Like jazz, the word comes with preconceived ideas which can be misleading and at times even toxic. James thinks at the very least it means a show that breaks the fourth wall and where what’s being said as at least as important as what’s being sung. As he said, “You have to find every corner of the room and make everyone a part of the evening”.
Just because you can sing really well or you have a bit of a profile in West End musicals doesn’t mean to say you can instantly perform a fantastic cabaret. “Being able to sing well is only a small part of what makes a great cabaret performer. Giving it [the show] some kind of structure and allowing the audience to enjoy that journey is more important than the ability to hit every note. I think it’s crucially important, when you’re creating something, to have a Director involved to iron out the creases and prevent self-indulgence.”
James is part of the team responsible for booking artistes for the Studio. If you’d like to work there he tells us exactly how to make contact and show him what you can do. You can find him on Twitter here.
Versatility is critical as is great artwork and a snappy show title. Great examples of people who get it right are Joe Stilgoe and Alison Jiear – study them and you’ll see how it’s done.
Recorded in London 28th October 2013.