Leye’s festive winner

All Leye Wants For Christmas - the cast of Layton Cabaret Lounge cabaret show
All Leye Wants For Christmas - the cast of Layton Cabaret Lounge cabaret show
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All Leye Wants For Christmas Is You - Cabaret Lounge, Layton

Considering how many venues have either abandoned their live entertainment altogether or simply view this time of year to make the most money out of the least effort, it’s great to see entertainer Leye D. Johns and his team determined to redress the balance.

Last year was a learning curve of a launch for a Christmas show in a venue normally dark at this time of year. For 2011 they’re back with a bigger and better value for money festive show which has converted Layton Institute’s staid concert room into The Cabaret Lounge – a winter wonderland of a venue barely recognisable from its summer identity.

Leye is the first to admit he’s not to everyone’s taste. As camp as, well Christmas actually, it’s no surprise to find him straddling a giant fir tree for his arrival on stage, though perhaps more of one to see him roller skating around the small performance area singing an unlikely version of Walking In The Air.

Barely taking time off following his nationwide tour with Joe Longthorne, Leye is one of the hardest working people in showbusiness and demands the same dedication from his fellow cast members (memo: eat quickly, let them get started).

Venue favourite Darren Coulton and equally popular vocalist Phil Jeffries clearly didn’t read the small print – starting their busy night dressed as sugar plum fairies alongside the always excellently choreographed Viva dancers.

For his opening routine Leye ropes in references to hacking and rioting along with his usual banter but by then we’ve seen the whole cast in action for an opening set which is longer than some shows’ entire running time.

The format is to keep things moving – Darren and Phil’s acts sliced into bite sized scenes with plenty of ballads and more, the dancers adding their glamour and some very sexy solo routines of their own which are more Rihanna than Rudolph and the man himself never too far away to throw his heart and soul into a series of medleys.

Slick though it all is, don’t assume Leye’s selection of Christmas songs is bringing things to a close. There’s still the likes of Take That and a Status Quo selection to keep the fun ticking along to the midnight hour.