JONNY WOO - Push Pony


Illustrious, Mega talented cabaret icon, performer & director Jonny Woo chats about Brexit the Musical, his love for Diane Chorley and THE ROYAL FAMILY; as he get’s set to raise the curtain and debut HIS fabulous and highly anticipated ‘Un-Royal Variety Show’ tonite

The incomparable Jonny Woo is hosting a royal due! Injecting a multitude of glitter, more is more attitude and long overdue pizazz into the Royal Family’s traditionally stuffy and long winded Royal Variety show. Debuting his own remixed, vamped up masterpiece version the Un-Royal Variety Show; packed with a star studded cast of London’s most talented alt cabaret idols, one night only surprises, a chem sesh with Prince Harry, Princess Di & the lizard man, high kicking choreo, opulent operatic rifs and so much more!!!

I was lucky enough to sneak a few minutes with Jonny to find out more about what to expect and how it all came together.

How did it all come together? 

JONNY WOO: I wanted to see my friend Diane Chorley presenting Antiques Roadshow, so I thought I better do a big revue to showcase the fruits of East London’s cabaret boom over the last ten years and maybe someone will notice her. A big show that encourages a citywide audience to pay attention to some of the super stars right on our doorstep. East London’s underground cabaret scene is so much better than most of what you see on television basically and I thought it might be time to let people in on the secret. Let’s get Jayde Adams at the Apollo!!!

“Un-Royal” isn’t anti-monarchy, there are Royal pastiches in the show but they are endearing tributes really to the Royal family, their family’s quirky traits and the Royal Family’s very human mistakes.

Alt cabaret starlets Diane Chorley, Bourgeois and Maurice, and Le Gateau Chocolat are only some of the incredible talent you have on the bill. Was it difficult to choose everyone who you wanted involved?

If an act could feasibly work on the traditional Royal Variety then they’re not quite right for my Un-Royal Variety… but if they’re too X-Rated, then they’re too Un-Royal.. so there are goalposts. Because the show isn’t funded or backed by a big production company, it’s supported by ticket sales, and requires lots of rehearsing beforehand. Our venue Hackney Empire have been good to use in giving us the chance to run with this idea. In my head, this is now an annual show… so there’ll be different acts next year.

Is there a dream performer not in the show that you would have liked there?

I would have loved to perform with Mary Portas. I will be dressed as her on the night and open “Muscle Mary’s Gym” in one scene. I think Mary suspects I’m taking the Michael but I genuinely admire her as a strong, confident and queer role model on telly. Mary doesn’t take any shit! and she’s my Queen of choice. Maybe she’ll follow me on Twitter one day…we can dream can’t we.

What can people expect to see on the night?

A lot ! As well as the main line-up we’ve got lots of special features in the show. Only last week we added a lizard men dance routine. Princess Diana and the lizard people – for one night only! Princess Diana would have loved this show so much – I can tell you that!

What do you think will be the biggest surprise?

Ma Butcher finding her seat.

Is there a particular act you’re most excited for?

Diane Chorley is a personal favourite, not to be favouritist but her character just hits the spot for me, she’s a wonderfully fully-realised drag creation with so much back story she puts Tolkien to shame.

There will be loads of one-off surprises like the Kate Middleton Choir, Prince Harry’s Chem Sesh, and of course yours and Richard Thomas’s magnificent 10 minute production “Brexit the Musical”. Can you tell me a bit about the piece?

Brexit The Musical was meant to be a silly pop-up segment, taking the piss out of musicals as well as politics, but there was so much feeling in the first rehearsal it quickly took it’s own form! Now it’s this giant spiralling operatic spectacular with Jayde Adams playing Boris Johnson, Calum Mac playing David Cameron and George Ikediashi (Le Gateau Chocolat) playing Nigel Farage… it’s going to be brilliant and the show might get picked up. I think Richard Thomas and myself  have written some cracking songs, I think people will be surprised, I’m excited!!

Lastly, I know the Queen’s attendance has yet to be confirmed…but should she make an appearance what performance do you think she’ll be the most excited to see?  

Probably Lavinia Co-Op, he’s got the Blitz Spirit in bags, and she’d get some good make-up ideas, they’ve a similar complexion, and wardrobe.

Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety
4 November | Hackney Empire Theatre

Words by Tracy Kawalik & Jonny Woo
Images & Media Courtesy of Jonny Woo

Submit a comment