Hat’s the way to sing in cabaret

Ladies With Hats entertaining Eastbourne
Ladies With Hats entertaining Eastbourne

The sun may have got his hat on – but he’s not alone. A congenial band of minstrels, similarly attired, is definitely coming out to play.

Ladies With Hats, a new entertainment to hit Eastbourne, suggesting ‘Harmony. Humour and Fun,’ performed at La Locanda del Duca in one of the Italian restaurant’s popular cabaret evenings.

And the ladies lived up to their promise ­– not least in their exotic headgear, changed accordingly, along with complementarily elegant dresses.

Starting with a bang, the trio sang a vibrant version of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and followed with what leader Susan Winge Bicknell, supreme in a black silk topper, announced as “a large slice of nostalgia”, moistening a few watching eyes with We’ll Gather Lilacs, written by Ivor Novello as World War II neared conclusion.

Annie Sivers wowed with All That Jazz from the musical Chicago, at one point using her tiny black bowler as a mute for a pretend trombone. Annie further demonstrated her range with two ballads; Secret Love and The Way We Were.

In almost uncanny Audrey Hepburn mode, Julia McBain, in wide-brimmed black hat, entranced diners with her rendering of I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady.

Susan out-Grenfelled Joyce Grenfell in her frightfully posh version of the hilarious Someone’s Been Sending Me Flowers, some of which from her mysterious admirer (or not) turned out carnivorous!

One particularly appreciated offering was Susan and Julia’s sweetly sung Homeward Bound, not the Simon and Garfunkel hit but a pensive yet hopeful song by Marta Keen.

Topped by a pink, bouffant-like extravaganza, Susan eased back into high-born style for Noel Coward’s A Bar on the Piccola Marina.

The final set was as sweet as the desserts. Accompanied throughout on keyboard by Wendy Hammond, the ladies had the audience join in on Just a Song at Twilight. Wistful reminiscences doubtless welled up in many as the diners sang to themselves on their way home the immortal words, “Tho’ the heart be weary, sad the day and long, still to us at twilight comes love’s old sweet song”. By Bill MacFarlane.