Melissa Errico presents Out of the Dark:The Film Noir Project – Crazy Coqs, London

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Creator and Director: Melissa Errico

Film noir is one of cinema’s most influential genres, constantly referenced in shot selection, narrative devices and style, but for Broadway star Melissa Errico, ‘noir is a sound’ and one that has inspired her latest album Out of the Dark: The Film Noir Project which Errico has developed into a 75-minute cabaret tour performing for three nights at the Crazy Coqs. A celebration of the songs of noir Out of the Dark: The Film Noir Project has plenty of classics and a few new tunes written especially for the show.

Inspired by a “fever dream” during lockdown, Errico’s show is built around her experience of escaping into film noir while her children were busy with remote learning and her husband was enduring covid symptoms in a separate part of the house. Each song on the album – many of which are translated into the show – explores Errico’s connection to the world of noir, increasingly immersing herself in the idea of being a femme fatale club singer with a memorable experience of being with a bad man and, ultimately, the powerful imprint of women on these stories.

Performed in a slightly different order than the album, Out of the Dark: The Film Noir Project opens with two Ella Fitzgerald numbers Written in the Stars followed by Angel Eyes by Matt Dennis and Earl Brent. Errico’s performance is sultry, flirting with the audience although the musical arrangement in this early section of the show often works against her, occasionally overwhelming the gentle tone of the song, most notably in With Every Breath I Take.

But after a handful of songs, performer and band are soon in sync, delivering some charming numbers by David Raksin including the title song to Laura with its infectious Cuban rhythm, while Checkin’ My Heart inspired by Out of the Past is a particular highlight, a pacey performance full of rich vocal trills which builds to a strong finale. Errico also claims a minor coup by adding lyrics to Marlowe’s Theme from Farewell, My Lovely for the first time which speaks to the female experience in noir of knowing a bad time is inevitable but enjoying it anyway.

Some of the best moments expand beyond traditional noir to explore later music influenced by the era including Stephen Sondheim’s superb Sooner or Later from Dick Tracy in which Errico’s silky vocal is the focus, but the singer creates some additional personality with an uncertain but game attempt to play the ukulele at the same time. Later, the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit Gentleman is a Dope is the place this show really comes together, a bouncy, full throttle piece allowing Errico to showcase her range and the undefeated pragmatism of the noir woman.

The new songs are a mixed bag, perhaps more musical theatre than noir, but the concluding number Shadows and Light by David Shire and Adam Gopnik rounds off the evening nicely with its reference to the dark and the optimism that follows. With a band led by pianist Tedd Firth, Errico’s story of noir concludes with the end of lockdown and her fantasy life, one that she can now relive every night in this show.

Runs until 3 November 2022

The album Out of the Dark: The Film Noir Project is out now

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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