Linzi Hately’s 26-year career has included stints in many successful West End musicals, including Les Miserables, Joseph, Chicago, Mary Poppins and Mamma Mia. Hately, however, starred in one of the most infamous Broadway flops of all time, playing the lead role in Carrie, aged just 17. Having played a run at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon, after which Hately’s co-star Barbara Cook left the production, Carrie transferred to Broadway with Betty Buckley taking over the part of the mother, but it lasted for merely a few days. Hately’s last appearance in New York was as a guest at Buckley’s Carnegie Hall concert in 1996, and she made a long-awaited return to the New York stage on 27 May at the Broadway supper club 54 Below, in a cabaret show entitled True Colours: Live Since Carrie. It was an evening of simplicity and style, shaped as a musical journey through Hately’s life and career.

Hately is a performer with engaging and reliable vocals, and a beguiling smile and personality that makes the audience naturally warm to her. Singing songs and telling stories from the shows she’s starred in, Hately’s memories of Carrie are naturally quite distant, with tales of the blood-splattering featured in the show and of being alone in New York at 17 in a show that “went horribly wrong!”. Offering both the title song and the mother’s song from this now cult show, Carrie composer Michael Gore was also in the audience. Another RSC show, Les Miserables, proved more of a success for Hately back home, and she gave an enchanting rendition of ‘On My Own’, having played Eponine in the show’s early days. Recently returning to Les Mis for a stint as Madame Thernardier, Hately discovered that they are still using a recording of her Eponine scream some twenty years later! A signature role was that of the Narrator in the enormously successful production of Joseph at the London Palladium – “the first megamix musical!” – and the ‘Prologue’ she sang from that show was particularly engaging.

Hately also talks about the ups and downs of being a performer, dedicating a poignant version of Cole Porter’s ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ to all her former colleagues, after the inevitable ‘moving on’ at the end of a contract. A stunning version of ‘Meadowlark’ from The Baker’s Wife was dedicated to Cook and Buckley from whom she “learnt so much”, sung as a duet with her pianist and musical director Brian Nash, with whom Hately had a natural rapport and ease, despite only meeting days before. Although the auditions process doesn’t get any easier – “now they sometimes say you’re too old!” – Hately still has great enjoyment and enthusiasm for being in the business. Recently involved in the Royal National Theatre’s 50th birthday celebrations, having starred in London Road there (as well as the forthcoming film of that musical), Hately was so excited that she had to phone Mum when she saw Judi Dench in the canteen at lunchtime. Another mother-daughter conversation was – briefly – broadcast across the barricades in Les Mis after Hately’s Eponine had died too!

Some of Hately’s roles have been more in the ‘pop’ vein (Mamma Mia anyone?) and Hately is obviously comfortable here, top and tailing the show with ‘True Colours’ and the inevitable and appropriate ‘New York State of Mind’. Hately’s daughter Meg – “my greatest production!” – joined her for ‘Here Comes The Sun’ too. Hately interspersed these numbers with some from shows that she hasn’t been associated with, including a sassy rendition of ‘There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This’ from Sweet Charity and a well-acted dramatisation of ‘Time Heals Everything’ from Mack and Mabel.

Hately’s cabaret show – directed with style by Joseph C. Walsh and recorded for a possible CD release – has already had a one-off date in London and certainly deserves a longer life elsewhere (Crazy Coqs, please take note!). It’s best performed in an intimate setting, as here in 54 Below, where the audience can interact with Hately and feel part of her musical journey. This celebration of Hately’s diverse career could include even more stories and anecdotes too, to put some of the songs in greater context. Hately jokes in an opening medley featuring the melody from her song in the stage version of Mary Poppins, ‘Being Mrs Banks’ – retitled ‘Being Linzi H’ – that during ‘26 years in the times it has been hell!’ but judging from the wealth of shows in her bio, she has survived the disaster of Carrie remarkably well. Hately’s cabaret has a beautiful simplicity and an entertaining quality that prove that Broadway’s loss 26 years ago was certainly the West End’s gain.