Kai Hoffman has a flawless vintage voice, buckets of brazen, showgirl attitude and catchy songs.
There is no denying that Hoffman has a very special voice: rich, super smooth and full of old time sparkle. The selection of songs really shows off her impressive versatility and technical skill, and it is a joy to listen to her sing. She is accompanied by the very skilled and well-behaved Hugh Reiss on piano and the two work well together.
Hoffman starts the show as her geeky schooldays self, singing kooky, self-deprecating songs such as No One Else Thinks the French Horn Is Sexy. As her story unfolds, she tells us how she blossomed into a fabulous and sequined cabaret act, while investigating her newfound interest in boys. The final message is a strong plea to live life to the full and "do it while you can!"
However, despite how wonderful it is to listen to Hoffman sing, I can't help but feel that the show would much better without this narrative on top. The ugly-duckling-to-swan story is not unique or original, and the whole show is definitely more of a vehicle for her songs than an act itself. The story is tenuous, the acting melodramatic and we find ourselves waiting for the next song to start.
As you might expect from a cabaret performer, Hoffman uses a lot of audience interaction, which, although not a problem itself, does not work in this setting. In most songs, embarrassed and awkward audience members are forced to shuffle on and off the stage, which is uncomfortable for both them and us. Unfortunately, Hoffman's gorgeous voice was not enough to make up for this. In its current form, the show does not work.
Kai Hoffman has a flawless vintage voice, buckets of brazen, showgirl attitude and catchy songs. I support her turning her music into a narrative production but I don't think this is the best incarnation of this show.