Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Kooky, french horn-playing, little Miss Hoffman from Massachusetts never imagined she’d become a 1950s-style blonde bombshell with shows in New York and Milan, and a residency at Ronnie Scott’s. With this entertaining show, vintage cabaret star Kai delivers her life story with cheeky charm, sassy, explosive vocals and original songs from her new album Hot Rockin’ Diva. Complete with a dash of exotica and a peppering of kitsch, join in with Kai’s laughter and effortless joie-de-vivre at her Edinburgh debut.
Growing up wasn’t easy for Kai Hoffman, who kept wondering when she would fit in. She was the fat girl in gym class, the mathematics nerd, a total geek. She takes us through her life story, told not only through funny tales, but also through lovely jazzy songs. Her lyrics are witty and surprising, the melodies refreshing in a festival where most songwriting is heavily musical theatre inspired.
She discovered her love for jazz through the French horn, which she plays well. Jokes about performing sexual acts on the instrument do feel a bit uneasy compared to her otherwise clever style, but that’s quickly forgiven due to her relentless energy: Hoffman gives everything she’s got – and she has quite a lot to give.
By far the strongest suit of this show is her warm voice, her great diction and near-perfect phrasing. Accompanied by pianist Huw Rees, she sings a handful of songs that will stay with you the next few days. ‘Do it while you can’ should be heard by anyone who is contemplating a life-changing decision, while ‘Bad blind date’ offers a funny and refreshing take on online dating – a topic that’s been trodden on so many times it’s quite an accomplishment to be original. And underneath all the jokes, ‘I’ll be there’ is a very caring and comforting song for cloudy days
Throughout the show, Hoffman gradually transforms from the nerdy teenager that once was to the ‘Hot rockin’ diva’ she is today, a respected jazz singer in one of the most renowned jazz clubs in the world. She plays it well, though from the start you can – literally and figuratively – see the glitter underneath her geeky disguise. Hoffman is a born performer, who effortlessly connects with her audience and plays with the little venue as a cat with its ball of wool. It’s only her first Fringe show, but hopefully there will be more.