On a return visit to the intimate cabaret space of the Crazy Coqs in Piccadilly – after the success of my previous visit to A Chorus Line star Donna McKechnie’s show earlier in the year – I had more time for a closer look at this opulent and atmospheric venue. The room is so intimate that there’s a good view from every seat, the sound and lighting are well done, and the piano keyboard is reflected in the giant mirror on the ceiling too. No wonder that the venue is to be used for the inaugural London Festival of Cabaret (which also brings Michael Feinstein to the Palace Theatre in a week or two) presenting American stars such as K T Sullivan and Steve Ross close up and personal in the centre of the West End.

Before that, however, American singer-pianist Billy Stritch brings his new show I’ve Got Your Number – The Jazz of Cy Coleman to the Piccadilly venue. Accomplished as both a solo artist in his own right and as accompanist to the great Liza Minnelli, Stritch picks a Broadway composer whose jazz output was almost as prolific as his musicals, many of which had a jazzy edge such as Sweet Charity, City of Angels and Barnum, recently seen in Chichester. ‘I’ve Got Your Number’ is one of two songs that Stritch mines from a rarely-seen Coleman musical, Little Me, which Sid Caesar originated on Broadway and Bruce Forsyth played in the West End. The other song from this charming show is ‘The Other Side of the Tracks’ – both have witty and clever lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, one of several Coleman lyricists, who is featured heavily in Stritch’s programme.

Stritch is a personable and likeable performer, whose voice and personality is well suited to Coleman’s jazz infused numbers, such as ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ and ‘Witchcraft’, offering short stories and reminiscences in between numbers and performing medleys of several numbers. It’s a different cabaret style to some of the female performers, many of whom have musical theatre backgrounds and offer a depth and emotional intensity that I love. However, Stritch’s interest is in the song and his performance is both upbeat and stylish. Stritch offers a tender ‘Baby Dream Your Dream’ from Sweet Charity, a show Coleman wrote with Dorothy Fields, who liked to work in the morning prior to a martini lunch, whereas Coleman was at his best later in the day. Stritch gives a sassy ‘Use What You Got’ from The Life too, pointing out that 1997 show still hasn’t been seen in the West End (I love the emotional climactic number ‘My Friend’ from its sizzling score).

Coleman was a composer, songwriter and jazz pianist who often liked to scale things down to a jazz trio, so it’s fitting to see Stritch’s show in an intimate venue like Crazy Coqs, with Dave Olney on bass for accompaniment to his piano and vocals. Stritch selects a well contrasted programme and both his style and the venue fit the 1950s and 1960s period that so much of his song programme was written in. Coleman would definitely approve.