Magician Christopher Howell at the Wintergarten entrance

I’ve never actually made a bucket list but one thing that would be on it if I had one would have been to perform at The Wintergarten Varieté in Berlin.  And it kept coming up: people all the time telling me after they’ve seen my Norvil & Josephine, act “Oh the Germans would devour this act!”  I could only hope someday they would. Famous are the rumours of how ravenous the Germans are for cabaret and variety: a fantasy world full of extravagant characters, impossible spectacles and tantalising stories that live on long after the curtain has dropped. Then it happened.  One dark October night last year while Norvil was meditating in his aviator armchair with a whisky tumbler poised in one hand and a billiard[…]

I didn’t know it would be as if Benedict Cumberbatch was waiting for me at the theatre as I cycled over to the Hackney Empire for an Open House London tour this month. Hackney Empire is of course one of the great success stories of a UK variety theatre returning from the dead.  I also wanted to go because I’ve always had a soft spot for the place as it was the first theatre where we did a public show of my act Norvil & Josephine in a variety revue there in September 2007.  But here’s the thing… While Mr Cumberbatch wasn’t actually there that day, the Open House tour struck me as a sort of Sherlock Holmes examination of this gem of[…]