Your West End Wendies Open Mic pianist is….Jordan Clarke!

West End Wendies Open Mic opens its friendly doors to singers of all genres and abilities every Thursday in the Loft at the Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. From 7.30pm (doors 6.45pm) your host Paul L Martin invites singers up to the mic, accompanied by one of our lovely in-house pianists. Today we introduce you to Jordan Clarke, student at the Royal Academy of Music and lover of turtles!


Jordan, welcome to the blog. Let’s talk West End Wendies Open Mic. What’s it like?!

Thanks for having me! West End Wendies was one of the first places I found in London when I arrived for university, and I had no idea what I was getting into. My singer-friends pulled me along, and it was a smack in the face of colour, music and utter camp joy! The energy is addictive, and the variety of people you’ll meet is endless – that’s why I go. Absolutely everyone is welcome, which makes it a very special place indeed!


You must have to sight-read pretty well? Or do you know all the songs that have ever existed?

…I am sadly young and in-experienced in this wide world of music and theatre, but have been slowly educated (even by Paul himself)! He brings new things, from obscure music-hall songs of the 1920’s to the earthy, bluesy music of people like Rufus Wainwright. Then there’s the Wendie’s themselves, who bring me songs I’ve either had to play a billion times, or something I have no chance of ever having heard before. Pop, Jazz, Swing, Ballads, Rock, Disco, Musical Theatre – and all in a variety of fashions as far as sheet music is concerned! It keeps me on my toes, and that’s when I have the most fun!


Your Facebook bio says you’re a Pianist, Singer, Accompanist, Writer, Composer, and a Musical Director. Where do you find the time?

I have to say, I try and do it all as the opportunities swing by! It’s more a case of “here’s a list of the random things people have asked me to do in the past, and I damn-well loved it.. so I’ll do it again for you if you like”. I try to keep my focus on writing, but most of my time is spent tinkling the ivories for a myriad of personalities around London. I love accompanying people more than anything! You meet people, you hear new music, and you don’t normally have the pressure of all the attention being on you..) and so when I get the chance to play for something like this, it takes first priority! Even above coursework on many occasions…


You study at the Royal Academy of Music as a Composer. Wow, that sounds amazing. Tell us more.

Thank you for saying! Yeah, I’ve been really lucky with the chance to study in some great places, and the Academy has been a mad adventure. It’s random though! A morning of strangely intellectual company and a seminar with some acclaimed contemporary composer is often followed by accompanying some musical theatre or pop-music rehearsal with a completely different crowd of people. I love the variety! It’s not the easiest balancing act, but it’s been great so far!


Your Twitter account says you love turtles. They are cute, aren’t they? Do you have one?

I have adored turtles for as long as I can remember. OH YES – they are too cute. Hence my adoration. Someday I’m gonna own one, but for now I have an army of different-sized cuddly “turtle-teddies” decorating my bedroom…


Do you have any friends called Wendy? And if so, can they sing?

I knew one woman when I was a wee lad – a dear family friend in her older years! She’d visit every Christmas, and she’s the spitting image of Angela Lansbury. I can only dream she sings as well as Ms. Lansbury herself!


When you’re not playing with all those lovely West End Wendies, where else can we see you these days?

I should probably be studying.. but no doubt you’ll find me accompanying auditions, workshopping new writing, or behind the piano as an MD for shows every now and then! I teach at several theatre schools and stay as busy as I can spreading music, love, and turtle-appreciation – but am always happy to say hello to a new face!

Accompanying you on the keys at West End Wendies Open Mic….it’s A Girl Called Fred!

Fancy singing in front of a lovely audience? Or being in that audience listening to people that love to sing? West End Wendies Open Mic is every Thursday in the Loft at the Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. From 7.30pm (doors 6.45pm) your host Paul L Martin takes to the stage to invite singers of all genres and abilities to step up to the mic. All are accompanied by a bevy of fabulous pianists (collective noun for pianists…a bevy?) and we want to introduce them to you…starting with A Girl Called Fred!

White head smile

Hello Fred. Firstly, can we call you Fred?

I’d be offended if you didn’t.

You’re a regular West End Wendies Open Mic pianist. What’s it like playing for all those Wendies?

“For”? Let’s go with “playing with” … In the most honourable way. Anyone who steps on that stage is part of this fun performing family…and you know what, it’s not just about Musical Theatre, for anyone who’s holding back. It’s about loving singing, singing any song, of any genre, and sharing.


The home of West End Wendies is the Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. What a gem eh?

Eat great food, drink in great company, be hosted by REALLY great hosts, and be merry. Very. I absolutely love it: so friendly, and professional while being less formal.

What’s the story behind that photo shoot on the piano? We love it!

A moment of shameless decadence. You can be a Girl, and be called Fred, and drape yourself on a piano, and just love it. I’m glad you do too. (Plus I can’t walk in those shoes…they’re a size too big. So supine was the way forward).


Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony. Your thoughts?

Well, as a pianist, at the mercy of whatever instrument I am required to work on, that is frequently not the case. My biggest nightmare was a dance school with a pink-painted piano, with all the tops of the black keys ripped off, and the whole thing a tone flat. Not just a bit flat. A tone. And no black keys. Like, no ebony…I can’t explain the traumas about that whole scenario if you are sight reading for dance exams…….Oh, it’s OK I took that totally literally, right?

Can anyone come and sing at West End Wendies Open Mic?

See my answer above to “What’s it like playing for all those Wendies?”. And add to that the welcome given by the superb Paul L Martin, and the relentless repartee he gives all night long….for the price of a tip in a hat, you leave having been royally entertained, with a free face lift and adrenalin buzz thrown in for good measure.

Pno Sit

And finally, where else can you be found these days when you’re not accompanying all those fab Wendies?

Living it up on stage in cabaret, in theatre, in Classical Concert, at my beloved piano (making new musical creations/ honing old ones), and putting putting choirs through their paces as an MD or as an on-call choir-doctor. And occasionally sleeping. Thank you, and goodnight…

Click here to find out more about West End End Wendies Open Mic. See you there!


Look and listen everyone, it’s our Dick!

We saw him last year for the first time in the Excess All Areas Panto…and he’s back again this year as Dick Whittington in ‘Kitten in Heels’ at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! We find out what brought him back ahead of this year’s show, before it opens tonight!


Welcome back! It’s your 2nd Excess All Areas panto. Why?!

It was just too much fun last year, and with such a great bunch of people, of course I came back. Its fun doing panto, it’s even more fun doing an adult panto, and this crew has it down.


How was your first experience last year? Any special memories?

It was…. Interesting. Like I said lots and lots of fun, I learnt a lot from the experience. Special memory might be the moment in a scene where the string of onions around my neck accidently got caught and ended up breaking, sending plastic onions all over the stage. Instead of helpful support from my fellow cast embers to cover up the mistake and move swiftly on as if nothing had happened, Jamie Anderson just threw them at me. People laughed a lot so it was fine.


Don’t you just love a good musical? Any favourites?

A good musical, yes. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a big favourite of mine and a part I would love to play.

A little birdie tells me you play guitar and saxophone too. Maybe you’ve persuaded the director to let you get your instrument out this year?!

You never know, we might have shoehorned it in somewhere, anything for a laugh.


Where else might we have seen you in the run-up to the panto?

Nowhere on stage unfortunately, I have been spending lot of time in the studio with my band Skip Ad, we are currently hard at work securing gigs and representation. Watch this space.


Kittens in heels. Whatever next?

I do have a few projects in the pipeline for the new year, a couple of shows from 2014 being revived, one of which could see us revisiting that sleazy bar in a far away galaxy called Saucy Jacks.


Last year a critic talked about your ‘self-awareness and audience engagement leading to some fantastically on-point comedy’. Your mother must be proud!?

As any mother would be, seeing their son in the brightest of yellow tights looking (as Jamie Anderson once described me) like “a gay leprechaun.” Seemingly I did it well though, so yes she is.

You’ll see Ashton’s ‘Dick’ at the LOST Theatre in six shows – December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! Don’t miss out, tickets are still available for all performances at (group discounts still available!).


And over to our very excited Stage Manager!

So how do you manage a gang of crazy cabaret performers putting on a Christmas panto? Well, let’s find out from Anna DeFreitas, Stage Manager of ‘Kitten in Heels’ at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! We talk all things SM with Anna ahead of this year’s Excess All Areas Panto.


Hiya! You’re managing the stage again. Are you as excited as we are?

Hiya! Yes, I’m so excited a little bit of wee came out. If the current rehearsals are anything to go by, I cannot wait for audiences to see our latest offering. The Dick Whittington/Puss in Boots tale has a flippin’ bonkers plot as it is. Our interpretation of the story takes it to whole new levels of WTF!? I really can’t tell you much more than that because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Suffice to say, Kitten in Heels is going to be a blast.


The LOST Theatre is so much bigger than the Battersea Barge; does that mean there’s more mad dashing involved?

Yes, A LOT! Backstage at LOST is a bit of a labyrinth. David Bowie is often spotted in the corridors pleasuring a Jim Henson puppet (allegedly). Unlike the Battersea Barge, however, the theatre doesn’t rock when the tide comes in and there are no deathtrap spiral staircases, so everything considered I’m happy in our new home.


Last year you were actually in the show? Are you looking for an even bigger part this year?

It’s an Excess All Areas panto tradition to have the Stage Manager appear during the production; not always on purpose. Following my debut last Christmas, the creative team felt that this year my “talents” would be put to better use in the Tech Box. I have no idea why.

DeFreitas is a gorgeous name. Whence cometh it?

Thank you. My Guyanese father bestowed it upon me, though it originates from Madeira. I’m told it has something to do with either wild cats or men who stand on rocks near churches. This last bit could very well be complete twaddle.


Your pic on the Excess All Areas team page is quite something. What’s the story?

I love that pic! It’s from a freelance carnival gig I did in Denmark a couple of years ago. The production team were invited to a glitzy after party, but we had nothing fancy to wear so we raided our face paint box. The resulting make-up was courtesy of the team’s fabulous artist Andrea Greenwood. I’m not very good at having my picture taken, but on that occasion I was more than happy to.

How many stage managers does it take to change a light bulb?

One, with an Assistant Stage Manager to foot the ladder. Health and Safety is no joke kids!

Harley trying on frocks

Will there be any real kittens in the show? And if so, have they had their heel fitting yet?

Sadly, no. We attempted to negotiate a contract with the Excess All Areas office cat, Harley, but his demands (Louboutin heels only; his own dressing room; 60% of all Box Office takings) were unworkable. Madonna has nothing on that little diva!

With chaos & mayhem all around, you’ll see Anna’s serene SM’ing starting next week at the LOST Theatre and in six shows – December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! Don’t miss out, grab your tickets now. They’re on sale at (group discounts still available!).

Yes, Kitten in Heels is going all Folly Mixtures!

Have you heard the news? Ooh La Lou of the wonderful award-winning burlesque troupe The Folly Mixtures is choreographing ‘Kitten in Heels’ at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! We talk moves, routines and nipple tassels with Ooh La Lou ahead of this year’s Excess All Areas Panto.


Well, hello Ooh La Lou of the Folly Mixtures! We are so thrilled to see you are choreographing this year’s panto, we’ve gone all hot and bothered. Are you as excited as we are?

I can’t wait! I have been a big fan of the panto for years now, it’s part of my Christmas tradition to go and sit at the front and heckle. So I was thrilled to be asked to choreograph this year…and even happier when I was given the brief of ‘camp and silly’!


Does this mean the panto will be going all burlesque on us this year and the inner showgirl in our panto cast members will be brought out?

I don’t think any of the cast will have a problem finding their inner showgirls….Paul L Martin has been channelling Bette Midler for years! I will definitely have to sneak a little burlesque shimmy in there somewhere though😉

Will the Dame be wearing a garter and nipple tassels?!

Now there’s an image! The Dame swaps her solo song for a solo striptease to close act one…complete with tassel twirling and a naked champagne pour at the end…maybe not! I think we will keep the Dame fully dresses and I am very much looking forward to seeing all the fabulous outfits she has this year!

Your website says there are 15 Folly Mixtures now. Wow, how you’ve grown!?

We have, from four to actually 16 now in the past 5 years! We have a big demand for shows all over the place, so have expanded with more gorgeous girls. We have such a lovely talented bunch now, with all these amazing skills like fire, hula hoping, singing, tap dancing and more. It’s a selection box of Burlesque beauties with something for everyone!


Do you have a favourite Folly Mixtures routine? And will elements of it be sneaked into the panto?

Hard question – they’re all so different so it depends what mood you are in! If you are feeling cute we have vintage war time pin up girls, if you’re feeling sexy we have a great bump ‘n ‘grind act, or if you are in a silly mood we strip out of tiger onsie suits! It’s the fun and silliness on stage that I love, and that’s the element I will be bringing to the panto!


Do you think we’ve all got a hidden burlesque or boylesque character in us, just waiting to come out?

Definitely! The reason I love Burlesque/Boylesque is because you have complete creative control. You can be pretty much any character you want onstage, so it’s a great way to find that inner confidence and have fun with it.

And finally, that panto title, Kitten in Heels! Is it giving you ideas for a new Folly Mixtures routine?

I have 16 gorgeous kittens in very high heels and a big long list of acts we would love to do! We are currently working on our Christmas acts, so I’m surrounded by sexy santa dresses and sparkle…it’s a hard life😉

You can see how Ooh La Lou has knocked our panto cast into choreographed shape at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! Don’t miss out, grab your tickets now. They’re on sale at (group discounts available!).


The Biatch is back…as King Rat!

Following the triumph of last year’s Biatch, Jamie Anderson will once more delight and pilfer from our panto audiences as he returns as King Rat in Kitten in Heels at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! We get to the heart of the matter with this panto veteran (he’ll kill us!) in a chat ahead of this year’s Excess All Areas Panto.

Good morning sir. You’re back for your howmanyth Excess All Areas panto?

Is it morning? I don’t recall saying you could stay over. If you wouldn’t mind showing yourself out and, no, you can’t have a shower. Oh, it’s YOU, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. Be a dear and fetch me a bacon roll and a Ribena. Lovely. How many pantos have I done? I genuinely have no idea. I feel like it must be around a thousand. However, every time I prepare to step out and perform I feel like I’ve never done one before and I have no idea what I’m doing. Sometimes that’s because of the bottle of Krug I downed backstage and sometimes it’s because I’m actually standing at the fish counter in Waitrose.

The script has been written. Will you be sticking to it this year?

To the best of my knowledge there’s never been a script so much as there’s been a collection of catchphrases, of which everyone’s forgotten the origin, that we keep shouting out over and over again like we’re suffering from a very camp form of Tourette’s.

Last year you wore high heels. Are you this year’s Kitten in Heels?!

I am not. There is a point in the life of an homosexual where he has to accept that he is no longer young enough and slim enough to be a kitten and he has to be a fully-fledged cat. Instead, this year I will be giving my King Rat who will have heels even higher than last year’s, providing that my gout isn’t too bad, in which case I’ll be wearing a Birkenstock and applying a cold compress.

What is it with all the eyeliner? Do you have shares in Rimmel?

Rimmel?! I should wash your mouth out with corner shop prosecco. I have a Space NK loyalty card, you know. I love make-up: I love the ritual and the result. Make-up helps me create the person I want to be. The less enjoyable part is that every single item I own and every single person I’ve ever laid hands on has glitter transfer on them; I’m viewing it as a kind of tracking experiment. That and a reminder of who in North London probably now has syphillis.

You’re an inveterate drink stealer? Does kleptomania run in your family?

Inveterate? Does that mean I don’t have a spine? Only two things run in my family: sarcasm and a borderline pathological love of roast potatoes. I am a great standard bearer for both.

You’re a funny man. Have you ever thought about penning a panto?

Write one? I don’t think I’ve read one start to finish. Besides, who would I criticise in the pub after rehearsal? I’m kidding, there’s no rehearsal.

If I were to write one, it would be modern day retelling of The Nativity and it would be set in the Middle Eastern town of Ashby El-Zouch. I’d play the Angel Gay-gay-gaybriel who is like an Israeli Ashton Kutcher going around punking gullible virgins into believing they’re carrying the son of God.

And finally. Where else can Jamie Anderson fans expect to see you in the run-up to the panto?

Grindr, mostly, I would expect.

You can see Jamie as King Rat in all his whiskered glory at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! Don’t miss out, grab your tickets early. They’re on sale at (group discounts available!).


All images from the Kitten in Heels Panto shoot in Soho, London on August 19, 2015. Photography © Arnaud Stephenson

The brilliant Vanessa Pope is back at the directorial helm!

Vanessa Pope returns to direct Kitten in Heels at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! We talk all things pantomime with Vanessa ahead of this year’s Excess All Areas Panto.


Well, hello, & welcome to your 2nd stab at directing the Excess All Areas panto! Glutton for punishment? Or you just can’t get enough of a good thing?

Hello! Can you be a glutton for a good thing? I think that’s greed. I’m greedy for panto. Also, I notice that auto-correct for panto to ‘pants.’ How apt.

In the video about last year’s panto you talked about taking a form and subverting it. Can we expect more subversion this year?

Always. We do like subbing inverts, after all. This year’s panto is taking on the classic ‘Puss in Boots’ (and eyeing up ‘Dick Whittington’ too) so there’s plenty to twist and take apart. We’ve been doing a lot of “research” for the “rehearsal process” and have found that no-one can actually remember the plot of ‘Puss in Boots.’ I challenge you, audience members, to spot the numerous clever jokes that actually hark back to the original tale. Laughers will get a special mention in the dressing room.


Handling all those big characters, phew, you’re brave. What’s your secret?

On stage or off stage? A-ha-ha. A joke. Of course.

No comment.

Seriously, NO COMMENT.

I believe you live in Dalston. How hip are you?!

I do live in Dalston. I’ve had to retract my East-London naysaying, which is all I ever did when I lived in South London. The worm has turned, but not become any more hip. I’m wearing a waterproof.

Your LinkedIn profile (yes, I am stalking you) mentions a lot about dance. We all love a good dance, don’t we?!

The cast, despite what they might say, do, scream or throw, LOVE a good dance, particularly complex group routines with things like changing direction, footwork and coordinating limb-movement.

It’s become panto tradition for the entire cast to attempt the routine from ‘All the Single Ladies‘, led by Fancy Chance, after a few too many bottles of bubbly wine. The results are… innovative. They really are a creative bunch.

Can our audience expect feline puns aplenty in this year’s panto?

There will be more puns that any of us know what to do with: our audience can expect to emerge from the theatre unable to hear anything without assuming it’s an innuendo. That’s what she said.

After the panto, what does 2016 hold for Vanessa Pope?

As much sleep as the human body can handle without slipping into a coma. That, and working on my very un-panto-like PhD. Diligent academic by day, dilettante director by night. I am truly the Clark Kent of panto and I have the glasses to prove it.

You can enjoy the fruits of the exceptionally talented Vanessa’s directing labours at the LOST Theatre from December 10th to 12th & 18th to 20th! Don’t miss out, grab your tickets early. They’re on sale at (group discounts available!).