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★★★★★ 5 stars! "He fills the intimate space of the Crazy Coqs with a low key, but dynamic energy, the audience is breathless with laughter and we leave with our stomach muscles aching" The Spy in the Stalls Jason Kravits is a successful American character actor who obviously enjoys giving himself a bit of a challenge, because his cabaret show Off The Top is ninety minutes of improvisation taken from audience suggestions written down on slips of paper. Does this performing without the safety net of a full script work? Heck, yes. Off The Top really begins while we’re settling into our chairs in the elegant, Art Deco inspired decor of the The Crazy Coqs cabaret space downstairs at the Brasserie Zédel in Piccadilly Circus. On the table in front of us are slips of paper and pencils. We are invited to drop these slips of paper into a fish bowl handed round by the master of ceremonies, on which we have written responses to “A Place,” “A Thing,” “A Short Phrase,” “Words to Live By” and “The Last Text Message You Sent or Received.” Then Kravits appears, creates a character made up on the spot consisting of an audience member’s middle name plus a place name, and jumps on stage. Since his show every night is different, I won’t hesitate to give spoilers by saying that on this particular night, we were treated to the life story of the not-so-famous Matthew Discovery from Tulsa, Oklahoma (there were quite a few Americans and Canadians in the audience). Discovery himself is nattily dressed in a plaid suit with lilac shirt and purple tie, and while he draws slips out of the fish bowl to describe the circumstances of his early life in Tulsa’s “wet sock” factory surrounded by pussycats and lifeboats, we find out that this wannabe performer of the cabaret scene can really sing. With the backing of a nicely mellow three piece band (MD/pianist John Thorn, bass Jonny Gee and drums Sophie Alloway) Discovery might treat us at any moment to a Sinatra like riff on “health, beauty and love” or a song about Grimsby that includes fish and donkeys. A version of an “unknown” song by Sondheim is instantly recognisable. But the barnstormer is the duet sung with guest star Ruth Bratt as the couple fondly recall their attempts to connect given that she’s a bigamist attempting to become a “trigamist”. (What on earth was written on that slip of paper?) In short, Kravits’ show, based on the rough sketch of a performer following his dream, is a hilarious world tour that visits Tulsa and the Taj Mahal, with brief detours to Venice; Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, and yes, Grimsby. The climax of the story takes place in Croydon, naturally, during a street performance that almost gets the hapless Discovery arrested, while creating a major diplomatic incident with Canada. By this point the audience is breathless with laughter. Kravits makes all this acting by the seat of his pants look effortless. He fills the intimate space of the Crazy Coqs with a low key, but dynamic energy. Sometimes he’ll slip the audience the side eye when presented with a particularly outrageous word or phrase from the bits of paper, but then he kind of mentally shrugs and launches into a vocal rendition liberally sprinkled with F words and S words anyway. He’s had us all in the palms of his expressive hands from the start. When we leave, ninety minutes later, his brilliant, made up on the spot songs are still on our lips, and our stomach muscles still aching from non-stop laughter. - Reviewed by Dominica Plummer ★★★★★ 5 stars! "We laughed, we cheered and we had a ball! Jason Kravits is incredibly clever and funny, 'Off The Top!' was everything I hoped it would be - an excellent evening in every way" UK Theatre Web This was my first visit to the Crazy Coqs nightspot in Zedel Brasserie, but it will certainly not be my last! What a fabulous location - intimate, fun and full of tasty food and cocktails at reasonable prices! While we sat and waited we all filled in cards with random thoughts, things and sayings - these were dropped into a jar and formed the basis for the entire evening - from the name of our personality "Matthew Discovery", to his place of origin, "Tulsa" to everything about him, his family, friends and life. Lots of recognisable song styles and very clever wordplay meant that this improv evening went really quickly - we laughed, we cheered and we had a ball! Jason is incredibly clever and funny, believe me. Ruth Bratt joined Jason on stage for a duet and for the grand finale - racing through most of the remaining cards simply fitting all the words in where they could; clever, funny and very entertaining. Note that each night sees a different colleague joining Jason on stage. A great evening made better by starting at 19:00 and lasting but 90 minutes meaning we got home at a reasonable time! Accompanied by John Thorn on piano (also MD), Jonny Gee on bass and Sophie Alloway on drums this was everything I hoped it would be - an excellent evening in every way. ★★★★ "A masterclass in the art of improv, a demonstration of how to seize an audience’s attention and hold it, and how to make the audience like you. Improv is not a play, not a musical, but it is theatre and this was first rate theatre" Reviewsgate Review: William Russell 13 January. Before your very eyes and with some help from the audience Jason Kravits improvises this splendid and very funny cabaret show. Improv is an art and he is a master – a familiar face on American television, he has appeared in the Big Bang Theory and was in the last instalment of Friends, he has played on Broadway and his improve shows are seen regularly at the famous Birdland theatre. Backed by a first rate trio and with different guest stars each night – the improv actress Ruth Bratt was there on press night – he works from suggestions made by the audience who get to fill in questionnaires suggesting names, phrases and places beforehand. These get drawn from a goldfish bowl and off he goes creating songs with the aid of a remarkable pianist to meet the moment. It is, of course, subtly structured – some of it is of the moment, some is using the suggested words and fitting them in to existing routines – but it is all done before your very eyes. Tulsa, suggested as where he came from, was much mocked on opening night, and he had to fit in things like rowing boats and Grimsby and whatever the audience had come up with as he went along. His Sondheim song was a delight, a response to what would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Pianist John Thom caught the Sondheim melodic clichés perfectly and Kravits came up with the immortal line – “Be my nail, I’ll be your hammer.” Bratt joined in with glee, managing an amazing duet which seemed conjured out of the air. It was a master class in the art of improv, a demonstration of how to seize an audience’s attention and hold it, and how to make the audience like you. Improv is not a play, not a musical, but it is theatre and this was first rate theatre. ★★★★ "An uproarious journey of excellent vocals, stunning inventiveness and spell binding energy Jason Kravits' improv show 'Off The Top' at Crazy Coqs is magic!" London Living Large Jason Kravits' improv show is magic! With the pace and timing of a master magician he takes random words and phrases from the audience and transforms them into a coherent narrative with improvised musical interludes. He does a terrific parody of a supposed singer doing a lounge act which chronicles his career. In our show, it was Matthew Discovery who shared the details of his life with ingratiating intimacy and a pseudo-sincerity that was made totally hilarious by the absurdity of his life story and the songs created by Kravits' random selection of audience suggestions. Our singer's act never missed a trope of the standard one person cabaret while completely sending up the whole genre. The medley from his 'musical' was a masterclass of improv. One marveled that all those random concepts could be strung together and appear to have some order imposed upon them. We also loved his clever riff on the music of Stephen Sondheim. On this occasion he was joined by guest star, Ruth Bratt whose great singing and improvisation skills matched Kravits' own. It was a delight to enjoy them bouncing off each other musically and comedically. Throughout Kravits was backed by John Thorn (Musical Director/Pianist), Jonny Gee (Bass), and Sophie Alloway (Drums). They never missed a beat as we were taken on an uproarious journey of excellent vocals, stunning inventiveness and spell binding energy! Reviewed by J.C. ★★★★ "Increasingly outlandish, Jason Kravits is a great compere, host and actor, the speed and quality of his comic creations are truly impressive" The Reviews Hub A childhood dream of owning a lifeboat, a failed musical about Canada staged on a Croydon roundabout and a romantic ode to Grimsby, it can only be an improv night. From the success of Showstoppers to the annual Improvathon there is plenty of high quality, brilliantly plotted and hilarious theatre that is entirely made up on the spot. Now Matthew Discovery from Tulsa brings his brand-new show to Zedel in Central London confusingly advertised under the clearly made-up name of Jason Kravits. Off the Top, running just under a week lets the audience make all the crucial decisions, and by filling in a slip of paper at your table asking for ‘Words to Live By’, a place, a thing, an adjective, a ‘Short Phrase’ and your latest text message, these will form the backbone of the show, effortlessly worked into new song titles, anecdotes and punchlines as Kravits weaves his increasingly outlandish but entertaining story. The show begins as the special guest – Ruth Bratt at the press performance – chooses a name and hometown from audience suggestions before introducing the star of the show who starts to tell the audience the story of his life. It’s a safe but flexible structure allowing the tale to go almost anywhere, giving Kravits just enough momentum to orchestrate links between the various songs and jokes across this 80-minute piece. And as a vastly experienced Broadway and cabaret performer, Kravits knows you can never upstage the audience, so as he reaches into the jar for another slip of paper – all of which are used by the end of the evening – the random, charming, quirky, filthy and dark minds of the viewer will be the star. The added joy of course is watching the delirious co-narrative unfold while waiting to see just who or what will flummox the charismatic star. Seeing someone make up entire songs and scenes on the spot never gets any less impressive and as the Sinatra influenced ‘Health, Beauty, Love’ opens the show as chosen from one unknown audience member’s ‘Words to Live By’, Kravits and his mini band (John Thorn on piano, Johnny Gormley on bass and Sophie Alloway on drums) take us through as many musical styles as they can. Whether it’s the finger-snap 50s deep jazz of Matthew’s decision to go with the flow entitled ‘Oh F**k it’ or a brilliant Sondheim pastiche about never being able to fail, not to mention the delightfully speedy Russian encore duet that recites all the remaining audience suggestions. By the end of Off the Top a bizarre little world will have come to life. The Guest Stars may have to work a little harder to muscle their way in however with Bratt appearing in only a small section about a faux Gershwin musical the performances once appeared in together resulting in a swing duet about a female bigamist and her many lovers, plus the encore. With Joe Stilgoe, Sarah-Louise Young, Alan Cox and Stephen Frost, and Rachel Tucker and Le Gateau Chocolat appearing later in the week anything can happen. Yet, Kravits is a great compere, host and actor, the speed and quality of his comic creations are truly impressive and Off the Top is a great showcase for a talented performer on a rare visit to the UK. Purposefully choosing the coldest and most disrupted time of year for his show and pleased to be in a small cramped venue, Matthew Discovery loved sharing his Tulsa-born love of socks, cats and commodes with a whole new audience. But just who will Kravits be tomorrow? ★★★★ "In these miserable January days a little wit and Yankee cabaret sparkle is just what I needed!" Broadwayworld We scribble down places, things, emotions etc that may be important to us (or, for the ever present more malevolent in an improv audience, awkward for the performers) and drop the chit into a bowl. Once our man is on stage in this lovely cabaret space, the fun starts as he fishes them out and the disparate words and phrases are woven into songs. Thirty or more years on from Josie Lawrence et al on Whose Line Is It Anyway? we all know the schtick - flights of fancy (the bus ride to wait for it, wait for it... The Taj Mahal!), the unexpected but pleasing rhymes that we really ought to have seen coming, but never quite do and the slow starts as the band set the rhythm and the singer jumps aboard. Kravits knows this too and so we get something a little different along the way. His voice is pleasingly large, the kind that fills much bigger rooms in Las Vegas, so you can drift away from the silliness if you like and just luxuriate in fine vocals that belt out numbers in the style that Frank or Dean or Sammy might have adopted in the Rat Pack years long gone. There's some fine parody work from the band too (though I can't help thinking that improvised melodies all sound like outtakes from Fiddler On The Roof) and they're nicely mixed against the voice, neither overpowering the other. That ought to be a given - but we all know that it isn't. There'll be a roll call of guests to change mood and give the ear something added spice too. Ruth Bratt rode shotgun in the show I saw, her showstopping Showstopper skills to the fore, with some nice harmonies and killer lines of her own. If I could have done without some of the more hackneyed links between the songs, the Sondheim section was a real highlight, his signature style skewered, as the crazy lyrics looped backwards and forwards. So too the big Broadway number - are those 11 o'clock numbers and "I Want" songs really so generic? It's all done in just over an hour - these gigs have to be pacy - and we're out into the rain and lights of Piccadilly Circus. In these miserable January days - a new credit card bill behind the door every time you come home - a little wit and Yankee cabaret sparkle is just what I needed. You might too. ★★★★ "A superb evening of improvised comedy and songs, Jason Kravits 'Off The Top!' is a performer at the top of his game, flying by the seat of his pants, in the finest cabaret room in London in one of the best restaurants in town – what’s not to like?" Londontheatre1 Off The Top! is the title of Jason Kravits’ improvised musical comedy show that’s on this week at Live At Zédel. Kravits is an American performer who’s appeared on Broadway and is a regular guest star on TV in shows such as The Big Bang Theory, The Kominsky Method and The Deuce. As you take your seat in the superb art deco room that is The Crazy Coqs, there’s a card on your table with various headings such as: Words To Live By, A Place In The World, A Thing, An Adjective, A Short Phrase and The Last Text You Sent Or Received and space to fill in the blanks. These are then collected and provide the basis for the improvised songs Kravits and his three-piece band, John Thorn (piano), Johnny G (bass) and Sophie Alloway (drums) perform during the evening. He’s aided and abetted by a guest star on each of the five nights he’s appearing this week. Last night it was comedian and singer Ruth Bratt and on the other four nights it’s Joe Stilgoe, Sarah-Louise Young, Alan Cox & Stephen Frost and finally Rachel Tucker & Le Gateau Chocolat. Bratt was excellent if somewhat underused and went head to toe with Kravits using her improv experience with Showstoppers to match his machine gun like delivery. When Bratt comes on stage she asks for the audience to shout out various words and places and Kravits then builds a character and a life story from those random words; last night he was Matthew Discovery from Tulsa, Oklahoma and he was soon off an running as a tennis racquet stringer who didn’t want to work in a wet socks factory and heads out on a bus to the Taj Mahal for a life as an actor aiming for Broadway. Along the way he puts on a failed musical on the streets of Croydon, tells the story of his lifeboat disaster and his love affair with Grimsby! There’s Sondheim and Gershwin pastiches and other musical genres – including a truncated folk song on which Kravits plays a mean guitar. Kravits is an energetic and engaging performer who thinks on his feet and delivers a superb evening of improvised comedy and songs. Obviously there’s an element of rehearsal and preparation with his band but on the whole you could see and hear Kravits thinking on his feet and I know it was authentic because he used the words on my card in one of his songs! So, go and see Jason Kravits in Off The Top! If you can. You won’t see the same show I saw as every night is different, but you’ll enjoy the sheer exuberance of a performer at the top of his game, flying by the seat of his pants, in the finest cabaret room in London in one of the best restaurants in town – what’s not to like? ★★★★ "Jason Kravits is a performance masochist who would rather die than not make an audience laugh... the showbiz aura exudes so powerfully you are rapt in his off-the-cuff musical comedy from the off" North West End It takes a cracking amount of guts to stand up in front of an audience and improvise an entire show. But it takes real talent to stand up and improvise an entire show and do it really well. But then, Jason Kravits has form, (American TV regular and Broadway veteran) and when he steps on stage the showbiz aura exudes so powerfully you are rapt in his off-the-cuff musical comedy from the – off. Drawing his inspiration for content from slips the audience have completed just moments before the show starts, “the last text you sent”, “where were you born”, and other banal questions form the basis for Kravits’ cabaret genius as he treats the audience to vivid off-the-knuckle hilarity. How on earth the band keep up with him is a mystery, but the whole performance works seamlessly. It’s easy to see how this show has been performed around the world because it’s adaptability to suit the audience is built-in from the outset. Audience participation is guaranteed – everybody wants to hear their contribution feature as part of the set. Which makes the content very local and very relevant to whoever’s watching. The added bonus of a guest star each night, is also a plus. Ruth Bratt was the guest when I attended and the duo riffed off each other brilliantly. As part of his week-long residency at Crazy Coqs, Kravits will also be joined by Rachel Tucker, Sarah-Louise Young, Alan Cox, Stephen Frost, Joe Stilgoe and more. Perhaps the only potential downside to Off The Top is it’s never the same show twice. That means the show I saw won’t be the show you see – so who knows if it’ll be as good – or maybe it will be even better? But that’s the attraction of spontaneous cabaret – you never really know what’s going to happen and that’s part of the special thrill. Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Kravits is a performance masochist who would rather die than not make an audience laugh. ★★★★ "An enjoyable evening of hilarity 'Off The Top' is fantastic entertainment with Jason Kravits shining with talent. Not to be missed!" Dress Circle Antics It’s impossible not to feel nervous for anyone who vulnerably puts themselves on stage, sans script, with absolutely no idea what they are about to say, sing or do. Anything can happen. The sheer (positive) chutzpah this takes, as a performer, is admirable. Jason Kravits; a charismatic American, adorned in a snazzy suit that is beautifully fitting of a TV star and Broadway sensation, greets us with high energy and instantly likeable persona. He is an immediate hit and off to a strong start. Supported by a band of three (phenomenal and experienced improvisation guru John Thorn on the piano, Jonny Gee on bass and the naturally gifted Sophie Alloway on drums), they come together to create a fabulous piece of art. The Crazy Coqs is a fantastically intimate venue, which only adds to the relaxed and friendly ambience. Anything can go wrong in this improvised comedy spectacular and Kravits joins the audience in not knowing what delightful dramas will unfold. Kravits leans on audience participation via suggestion cards of things such as “words to live by”, “a short phrase” and “the last text you sent you received”, for the basis of his script. This makes for a random yet hilarious account of a fictitious character the audience has unwittingly created. Kravits uses the audience’s offerings as the basis of his narrative and vocal numbers, which means you are in for a treat. Audiences can be so cruel, as they relish at the thought of seeing how the poor man can make a musical success of things such as toilet brushes and lifeboats, yet the uncomfortable or awkward nature of audience suggestions makes hilarious viewing. His musical improvisation success is aided by a natural understanding of harmonic progressions (cue the Broadway experience). How he makes up such flowing lyrics, on the spot, beautifully backed by a band that plays alongside as if they have rehearsed this exact song together a thousand times before, is truly a rare talent to behold. Singing freely and eloquently about wet sock factories, racquet stringers, cats and Grimsby, one can’t help but feel sorry for Kravits at times, however, the way in which he hilariously and effortlessly brings such a random cacophony of elements together is the mark of a true professional and born entertainer. There is a different supporting act (or acts) every evening, which breaks up the one-manband feel, adding new excitement to the performance. With Kravits being such a seasoned comedic and vocal performer, the support act needs to be at the top of their game to keep up. Ruth Bratt’s vocals and on-the-spot thinking just about measure up and with a new act every evening, the success of some parts will rely on the strength of the supporting act. Jason Kravits’ evident musical skill and natural comedic timing, paired with his charisma and instantly likeable character is a recipe for success from the off. The band effortlessly work together in creating some fantastic musical numbers, which flow between with some equally strong audience interaction. The fact that nothing is predictable keeps the content and experience fresh and exciting. For a thoroughly enjoyable evening of hilarity and randomness, Off The Top is fantastic entertainment, with Jason Kravits shining with talent. Yet another success for The Crazy Coqs; a venue that never fails to impress. With guests Joe Stilgoe, Sarah-Louise Young, Josie Lawrence, Rachel Tucker, and Le Gateau Chocolat, this is not to be missed. Jason Kravits 'Off The Top' "A cracking evening’s entertainment" Louise Reviews utm_campaign ★★★★★ 5 stars! JASON KRAVITS - OFF THE TOP AT THE CRAZY COQS "Good News. The Broadway veteran of shows like 'The Drowsy Chaperone' and TV comedies like 'Friends' returns to the Coqs for a whole week with his "jaw dropping , critically acclaimed" special brand of improvised solo performances and introducing special guests each night, including an appearance from Ruth Bratt, actress and singer from 'Show Stoppers', the improvisation company. "With him are his cheery, intrepid and totally unshakeable musicians:- namely John Thorn on keyboards, Jonny Gee on Bass and the Sophie Alloway on drums all ready to up and take off any way he decides to go. "Jason has great humour, is witty of speech, and an irrepressible sense of fun. He creates a warm relationship with an audience, has a voice that rivals any in musical theatre and jazz, and a very special something that only an artist with his unusual talent could achieve. "The audience are each given a form to fill in. No, not like the ones you have to do several tiems a day on your phone or computer. These are questions like. 'name Three nice words' 'what you love to eat' 'your favourite town' etc. My answer to the nice words was 'Health, Beauty and Love' and was amazed to hear him turn these words into a song. "The guest artist last evening was Ruth Bratt who came on first, along with the orchestra, announced herself, and talked to the audience asking people their names, where they came from etc. began by asking people for names and places Last night it was Matthew, Delivery and Tulsa... So she announced the appearance of that famous cabaret performer 'Matthew Delivery' all the way from Tulsa, Later on the two of them worked beautifully on some sublime duets in improvised songs. "Using the answers given by the audience last night Matthew Delivery was working at a Wetsock factory in Tulsa, went on a journey by Lifeboat to the Taj Mahal and finished up in his favourite town...Grimsby. A whole life story is conjured up in perfect song style and all 'off the top' of his head. "The Crazy Coqs elegant room in the heart of Piccadilly is the perfect cabaret venue for witty comedy, good natured idiocy and terrific singing. Jason Kravits is the master of all." Aline Waites ★★★★ "Quick-thinking Kravits gives a masterclass in improvisation, proving just why he’s one of the best on the scene - unpredictable, unique and downright hilarious, 'Off The Top' is a fun-filled show that’s not to be missed!" From Page to Stage While he may be best-known for appearing in hit American TV shows Law and Order and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jason Kravits has many strings to his bow and has also carved out a successful career on stage and in comedy. The Broadway veteran combines music and mayhem as he returns to London with his spoof cabaret show, Off The Top, playing at the Crazy Coqs for one week only. Off The Top sees Kravits embrace the persona of an imaginary cabaret star (whose name is supplied by the audience) and sing a range of songs about the star’s life – all made up on the spot, with a little help from the audience. Like many improv shows, the audience are key and before the show they’re encouraged to fill out a brief form, supplying everything from a place, an adjective and words to live by, to the last text message they sent or received; their imaginations shaping the show. Over the course of the evening, Kravits (or, on press night, Matthew Discovery from Tulsa) pulls the suggestions out of a fish bowl and uses them to make up amusing anecdotes and cleverly-crafted songs on the spot, accompanied by Musical Director John Thorn on the piano, Jonny Gee on bass and Sophie Alloway on drums. The beauty of the show is that no one knows what’s going to happen – not even Kravits himself – which ensures there are plenty of surprises and laughs throughout. We were treated to stories of Discovery’s bus ride from Tulsa to the Taj Mahal; a hockey shoot out with Justin Trudeau; and songs about lifeboats, fish and – thanks to the British humour in the audience – Grimsby. Kravits and his band delved into different genres of music, from Sondheim to Sinatra with a little bit of jazz in between as he performed Discovery’s well-known hits including ‘F*ck It’, ‘Don’t Give a Sh*t’ and, more amusingly, a song about racket stringing. His final anecdote, a Broadway-themed piece involving staging a musical on a roundabout in Croydon, was particularly inspired and showcased Kravits’ talents both as a comedian and musical performer. Each night during his week-long run, Kravits is joined by a special celebrity guest including the likes of Josie Lawrence, Joe Stilgoe and Rachel Tucker. For the press performance it was the turn of Ruth Bratt, an established improv artist herself, who proved she was a great match for Kravits during a duet about a bigamist woman looking for her next love. Possibly the highlight of the evening was when the pair performed a Russian-inspired song using the remainder of the audiences’ suggestions. Though the guest performer only appears briefly, their inclusion adds to the show and it’s fun to see the pair work together, particularly as they perform their ‘well-known’ duet. The show combines improv, music, comedy and cabaret to great effect, and also provides a safe space for audience members – unlike some improv shows there’s no pressure to join in if you don’t want to. If anything the evening goes by too quickly, and you’re left wanting more. The quick-thinking Kravits gives a masterclass in improvisation, proving just why he’s one of the best on the scene, and it’s great to watch him make up all kinds of stories with just a moment’s notice. Unpredictable, unique and downright hilarious, Off The Top is a fun-filled show that’s not to be missed! ★★★★★ 5 stars! "Entertaining, heartwarming, funny, impressive and ridiculously clever - Jason Kravits 'Off The Top!' is a one of a kind cabaret not to be missed!" What Is It? Off the Top is the hilarious one man improvised show of American performer Jason Kravits. What Is It About? Being a fully improvised musical production, it is hard to say exactly what Kravits' entertaining show is about. At the beginning of the night, just before our star is about to make is big entrance, the guest of the night (talented singer and comedian Ruth Bratt) calls to the audience for a male middle name and a street name that an audience member has grown up on. Thus, we welcome Kravits to the stage with his new stage name, Michael Discovery (name subject to change on each night). Kravits, as Discovery, takes us on a journey from his childhood all the way until today, using crafty inserts from the audience as his means of inspiration. Think of the evening as a night of adult MadLibs, if you will. Throughout the evening, Kravits pulls papers from a box that all have sayings, slogans, adjectives, and places written by the audience members. Using these forms as his inspiration, they dictate exactly what Kravits is going to sing about. The general outline of his story is there, but it is understood that each night the subject matter, names and places are changed, and he is thinking off the top of his head. How Did It Make Me Feel? This show is non-stop laughs! Kravits is extremely creative and full of energy. He is a joy to watch on stage. Kravits, the band, and the concept has made me want to return each night just to see how different it can be. Not to mention catching a different guest star every night whom also singings a completely improvised duet alongside Kravits. For us musical theatre lovers out there, Kravits pulls on heart strings by singing a standard 11 o'clock Sondheim number, the torch song, the seated on a stool-with-mic-in-hand- song, completely improvised with melody, title, and lyrics. It is just as hysterical as it is brilliant. Where is it playing? Conveniently staged at London's Crazy Coqs, this is the perfect setting for this cabaret. The space allows for Kravtis to connect with the crowd and the ambiance of the venue helps play to the ritziness of his performance. The flow of cocktails and popcorn also add to the feel-good time of the night of pure enjoyment. Anything Else? Kravtis's stage presence is unparalleled as he is beyond comfortable in front of a crowd and extremely personable. He is quick-witted and obviously intelligent as he thinks on his feet flawlessly. His voice carries through the audience with confidence and allure. Equally as impressive is Kravtis's guest on 13th January, Ruth Bratt. Bratt is from the highly regarded Improvised Musical: Showstopper! Her ability to improvise a duet on the spot with Kravits is incredibly exciting. Her vocals are strong and clear and her ability to musically gel with Kravits and the band is remarkable. All in all, this is a one of a kind cabaret that is not to be missed. It's entertaining, heartwarming, funny, impressive, and ridiculously clever. ★★★★ OFF THE TOP! "Jason Kravits is an A-lister. With a talent as funny and as rapier-witted as his behind the mic, there’s something for everyone in his hilarious, jazz-infused cabaret. A joy" Musical Theatre Review Musical improv might be something of a niche interest, but with a talent as funny and as rapier-witted as Jason Kravitz behind the mic, there’s something for everyone in his hilarious, jazz-infused cabaret turn. Kravitz – or should I say Matthew Discovery, Pride of Tulsa, for that’s who he was on the night I caught his show – is improv-comedy royalty. He’s a sketch comedian, a Broadway performer (The Drowsy Chaperone), and TV and movie actor (he was in the big-screen version of Stepford Wives and guested on hit TV shows including Everybody Loves Raymond and Curb Your Enthusiasm). And for a week at the Crazy Coqs in London’s Brasserie Zedel, he’s throwing away the script and score and making it up Off the Top of his head. With the help of MD John Thorn at the piano, Johnny G [Gormley] on bass and Sophie Alloway on drums – none of whom has had the chance, or need, to rehearse with their leading man – Kravitz recounts the life story of a new character conjured each night out of his mind. Or, more accurately, out of the fishbowl of ideas provided by the audience, who are asked to fill in a slip of paper when settling into their seats. ‘Words to live by’, ‘A place in the world’, ‘A thing’, ‘An adjective’, ‘A short phrase’ and ‘The last text you sent or received’ all provide the inspiration for an hour and a half of the most surrealist of songs and comedy. To kick off the first night at Zédel, Kravitz channelled the fictional Matthew Discovery, a son of Oklahoma who eschewed a life on the famous ‘Lifeboats of Tulsa’ and instead sought ‘Health, Beauty & Love’ via trips to India, Venice, Saskatoon in Saskatchewan and Grimsby… the latter giving him the chance to riff out a slow-jazz number extolling the virtues of the gritty, ‘Grimsbiest’ town in the UK. As the faux-tobiography unfolded, Mr Discovery revealed that he was ‘Naughty But Nice’, through the medium of a beat poem; he asked ‘What Would You Attempt if You Knew You Wouldn’t Fail?’, in the very convincing style of Stephen Sondheim (plenty of suspended dominant sevenths from Thorn); and, via the medium of the waltz and some interpretive dance (!), spoke of his father’s career as a “Racquet Stringer” back in Tulsa. The story reached the heady heights of off-off-off-Broadway – aka Croydon – where Discovery attempted to stage a musical version of his life. All very strange. To help spin his outrageous yarns, Kravitz is calling on the help of guest performers, and for the press night was joined by the fantastic Ruth Bratt of Showstoppers fame. A noted improviser with a fantastic voice, Brown shared the stage for a swinging (in more senses than one!) duet entitled ‘Is it Just the Two of Us?’ – from the ‘recently discovered lost Gershwin musical No Day But Today!’ The result was a totally credible jazz number that wouldn’t have been out of place in a West End show – honestly, if you weren’t paying attention to the comedy lyrics, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a standard. Look out for Joe Stilgoe, Sarah-Louise Young, Alan Cox, Stephen Frost, Rachel Tucker and Le Gateau Chocolat, all of whom are slated to appear, and some of whom have never improv’d before, I hear… What elevates this evening beyond something you might see at the Comedy Store nearby in Oxendon Street is the fact that Kravitz can really sing – vocally, he reminded me a lot of Paul Anka – and his scratch band is top notch. Johnny G’s bass solo in the rather colourful ‘Fuck it!’ was straight out of Ronnie Scott’s, as was lynchpin Thorn’s piano playing throughout. The band were clearly enjoying every minute of their extemporising, which is always a good sign. And ultimately, it’s funny! Americans seem to excel at this stuff, and Kravitz is an A-lister. The jokes come thick and fast, and his ability to knock out couplets appears effortless, although his brain must be whizzing along at 100 miles a minute. The close of the show – an accelerating Russian folk duet with Bratt – sent dozens of paper slips flying into the air as each rattled off a string of rhymes inspired by the audience choices. A joy. Craig Glenday the international online cultural magazine Jason Kravits’ cabaret at Crazy Coqs is wildly funny. This singer-entertainer is so dynamic that I would suggest he be prescribed for those with the blues. Kravits uses slips from the audience as his text. These ask for words to live by, a place in the world, a thing, an adjective, a short phrase, the last text you sent or received. All these papers are jumbled in a jar. Kravits pulls them out at random. His lucky dip inspires a song that he improvises on the spot. The result is pure nonsense. And it is very funny. But it is not all madness. His skill is pulling together all the elements of this absurdity in to a narrative which has to end positively because he is an American. A study of his technique and style might show that he is part of a long line of Jewish wedding entertainers who would spout nonsense to ward off the evil eye. Each performance will be different depending on what feeds he gets from the audience. It is his spontaneity and neurological agility is what delights us. This brilliant showman has terrific back up from fellow singer Ruth Bratt, pianist John Thorn, drummer Sophie Alloway and Jonny Gee on the bass. I loved it. Julia Pascal © 2020.

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