‘Angel to vampire!’, first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016
“An hour of late evening musical storytelling is in the hands of the hugely talented Nigel Osner, who offers us an evening of storytelling that is all too human but unafraid to don angels’ wings or take us into the heart of the London Vampires’ Meetup group.
Angel to Vampire is a solo cabaret in silver goth shadow and the self-generated light of the performer’s accessible charisma. This is a gentle autobiography, strong and powerful for that very gentleness. Though the venue feels too traditional for this cabaret format, Nigel Osner succeeds in welcoming us into his world, his story, told through original songs (accompanied by a recorded original piano score), poems, vignettes and a story that spans his life, invoked through some often painfully funny character acting. We forget the room and find ourselves in a cabaret performance space, all down to his personal skills.
There’s pain and sadness in the narrative, but also plenty of self-insight and comedic moments. This is the journey of a civil servant towards realising his truer ambition. Along the way we meet characters who wouldn’t look out of place in one of Michael Moorcock’s ‘London’ novels. Osner sings with guts and panache, drawing upon Blues, Dietrich and post-war styles. Blues meets Noel Coward through clever, often cutting lyrics and his poetry ranges from the comedic wit of Coward to conversational poetic storytelling. We laughed, even as we were gently prodded with another wry observation on life.
No microphones are a big boon in this intimate show. Osner sings from acoustic, natural authenticity. A love of costume, of dressing up and applying the lippy is all part of a story of ultimate self-acceptance, a self-acceptance that accompanies our stepping towards and through middle age. Can we find peace with ourselves? Perhaps only through a journey of painful self-discovery.
The performer holds attention throughout. A personal favourite song was “Don’t Label Me”, but. in truth, all the songs were finely crafted and heartfully delivered. The man can sing! This is an evening of solo cabaret variety, mature and engaging. It’s excellent work. A multi-skilled performer, Nigel Osner brings down the fourth-wall without creating forced or clunky interaction. This is an invitation to gather around, to witness, listen, empathise and enjoy. This is his life, it is also a life, which is an offer to connect it with our own life. Ultimately , do not collude with yourself; follow what you really want, to give yourself permission to like yourself and wear whatever costumes enliven and lift you.
There’s an infectious sentimentality running like a gossamer thread through the show realised through the portfolio of well realised characters. The soft light of the cabaret, the eerie light of uncertainty and feeling lost, and ultimately the brighter light that puts us in the centre of things, in which we are both the star under the spotlight and the applauding, approving audience.
The far too-small audience loved every minute of this generous hour, and I’m more than happy to rate this unique show as a Hidden Gem. It’s a crime that every seat isn’t filled. Go and delight in Angel to Vampire!” Paul Levy Fringe Review
“‘tremendously talented and very entertaining. – Osner’s songs are well-turned, amusing and evocative. -- a pleasure to see a performer of such distinctive ability flex his wings – and occasionally bare a fang.’’ Ben Walters Scotsman
**** “A show of angelic bite, Angel to Vampire! taps into a still pumping vein of light entertainment, injecting in some marvellous modern wit.” Grumpy Gay Critic (second London preview)
Southside Advertiser Fringe Favourite “This show is one of those little gems” Tom King Southside Advertiser
“an interesting and insightful show” Ailish George Broadway Baby
“When he is in his element, delivering some deliciously barbed lyrics and lines from his stories, Osner’s face literally lights up and it’s a genuine joy to see him revel in being onstage. --- Osner’s steely determination to entertain is writ large across his face from the first line he delivers to the last note he sings. As an audience member, you cannot ask for anything more from an actor than that.” Musical Theatre Review (St James Studio show October 2016)
Other performance reviews
Revamped! encompasses a wide range of songs and character-based monologues including a generous helping of Osner’s original material, with music for several of the songs written by pianist Tom Wakeley. In the first half, Osner regales the audience with a repertory of accents ranging from southern-state American to Australian to French to upper-class English, underscored by Wakeley’s lush accompaniments. One highlight is a splendidly acted spoken-voice performance of ‘I Went to a Marvellous Party’ (Noel Coward). The monologues that intersperse the musical numbers include ‘The Tale of Reverend James’, a poem subsequently used as the basis of a 2008 film, in which Osner expertly animated many different characters simultaneously. --- Osner pledges more of a ‘theatrical’ turn for the second half, which he delivers through a sequence of in-costume personae – One after another, he adeptly assumes the guise of a well-to-do gentleman named ‘Gerald’, a Dracula-style eastern European vampire, and an ageing sequinned diva who rather amusingly struggles to sit atop the piano --- Osner and Wakeley duet with gusto in ‘Bosom Buddies’ (Mame) and ‘It’s Never Too Late to Fall in Love’ (The Boy Friend), the latter featuring Wakeley comically performing the girl’s part in falsetto. They also keep the audience engaged throughout the show with some hilarious double act exchanges in between songs, a strong mutual respect evidently underpinning the surface-level banter. Sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, but always hugely entertaining, Osner is an idiosyncratic and versatile performer and Wakeley his perfect pianistic partner --- an unquestionably excellent evening. Christopher Wiley MUSICAL THEATRE Review
'his diverse and amusing songs, some self-penned others renditions of more famous tunes, are delivered with wit and warmth. His gentle mocking of the audience - at one stage he flirts suggestively with a number of women in the front row - is always on the right side of friendly banter and the audience like him all the more for it. As did I.' Maureen Mckarkiel Remote Goat.
'a show of flamboyant inspiration and intelligence. --- Osner's pieces are original, imaginative, and heavily character-driven. --- Osner excels at throwing emotion and thought behind each characterisation, along with astute observation and deep feeling --- a charming and entertaining show filled with warmth and performed with cheeky panache.' James Waygood sosogay
'--- an old formula performed well with some contemporary touches. [Nigel] has confidence in delivering a familiar style of crusty cabaret and captures the eye with experience and affection for his craft. I am left feeling warmed by the occasion and grateful for the pleasure of a proper entertainment show done well.' Piero McCarthy Bargain Theatreland
"very original material..... left me amused and in a good mood" Lisa Martland
"Simply another triumph --- Your delivery and presence ensured that the evening had a particular quality and style and you can tell from the audience reaction just how well 'Don't label me' and 'A perfectly pleasant evening' were received. Superb." Tom Shields, Master of Revels, Inner Temple
"Nigel's spontaneous performances of original and sometimes topical lyrics have added to the fun and gaiety of my salons" Carole Stone
'A rather English murder' Questors Theatre
‘The characters are well drawn and well portrayed. ---- Nigel Osner provides a very nice [performance] as the poet out of touch with the more down to earth aspects of 50s society.’ Andy Moseley Remote Goat
'Cover her face' (The Duchess of Malfi) Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club
‘Also impossible to forget is Nigel Osner’s pitch-perfect gag as Julian’s suggestively impotent husband and general well-wisher Castruccio, reborn in this play as an East End drag queen, whose friendliness and bright extravagancy provides an impressive closing speech to cut through the barbaric tragedy of the pin-striped fools.’
Alex Finch The Upcoming
‘In a strong ensemble cast ----- veteran cabaret performer Nigel Osner as a black-stockinged chorus soaked in gin.’ Gay Times
Nigel Osner, as Castruccio, has the last word and she governs the stage with an aloofness and a ‘what else could you expect?’ attitude. Tony Fenwick
'Wrapped in the sun' the Gatehouse Upstairs:
"Nigel Osner does sterling work as her first student - having misunderstood the flyer, he arrives dressed as Zeus and ready to pose as a life-model - and is utterly hilarious." Broadway Baby
‘Just One More Bite’
The vampire in question is the insanely camp creation of actor Nigel Osner, who leads camera and viewer through his castle, talking of his daily life and occasionally bursting into song. James Gallagher MI Shorts review
‘Just One More Night’
'Pat Garrett's Just One More Night delivers a well crafted performance from Nigel Osner as an aging entertainer, reflecting on a life less than glamorous, but one convincing enough to appear that way to his public. Osner also subtly scripted this performer's life, so it's doubly hard to separate art from life. Which imitates the other? Hard to tell, in this very enigmatic film performance. But that's the point isn't it?'
James MacGregor netribution
‘this very different one-hander is performed superbly by local actor, Nigel Osner. A poignant tribute to faded celebrity, it tells the story of an almost-forgotten screen star ending a long career by performing wherever she can get a booking.' Final Cut