Monday 27 July 2015

Todrick Hall presents The Toddlerz Ball @ Leicester Square Theatre

Todrick Hall presents The Toddlerz Ball

In a week where a new magazine dedicated to vloggers sent a jolt of fear through anyone over the age of consent, YouTube sensation Todrick Hall brought his 'Toddlerz Ball' show to London. Judging by the screaming hordes of teenagers who crammed into the tiny cabaret venue of the Leicester Square Theatre to give Hall a rockstar reception, the crown he wore in the opening number was justified. Hall is the King of YouTube.

For the uninitiated, Hall rose to fame on the ninth season of American Idol (reaching the semi-finals) and has since forged a hugely successful YouTube channel. Delivering viral videos by the bucketload to his 1.6 million subscribers, he specialises in parody Disney videos ("90s Disney", "Beauty and the Beat"), film parody trailers ("Mean Gurlz") and, of course, Beyoncé songs ("4 Beyoncé").

It's these videos that form the backbone of the 'Toddlerz Ball'. Introduced by YouTube comedy star Glozell who, dressed as a witch, places a curse on Hall, he must obtain a number of fairytale items to break the curse (Into The Woods style), all symbolising his most popular videos. Each section is introduced by fellow YouTube stars, proving Hall has the fans and famous friends to match his talent.

And talent he has in spades. Right from the off the energy is electrifying, with sharp choreography, riffing aplenty, and colourful Disney-esque costumes. The result is akin to Mickey Mouse starring in Nicki Minaj's Anaconda video. Audience members beg to be allowed on stage to participate in the recreation of his "McDonalds Drive Thru" song; his "4 Beyoncé" sees the whole cast performing intricate chair choreography; and the level of high camp and drag puts RuPaul to shame. At the centre of it all is Hall himself, with a velvety voice, perfect pirouettes and excellent comic timing, for a night of fun that's genuinely hilarious.

Not all of these happen at once, however. Gradually, it soon becomes clear that Hall's performances are best seen on screen. On stage we simply have budget recreations, where the sets are projected on to screens, the cast are under-rehearsed, and the performances too often rely on lip-syncing rather than live singing. His performance and personality are too huge for such a small venue - he should be performing at the O2 with the budget he deserves. His rendition of new single Low, proves that popstar potential.

Aiming towards teenagers does have its drawbacks: in a section that makes Taylor Swift look like the Wicked Witch of the West, Todrick sings saccharine ballads and performs an over-egged interpretive dance to inspire his fans. Then again, witnessing teenagers screaming with glee when images of America's Equal Marriage bill accompany one song is hugely encouraging. If YouTube stars like Hall are the future, then maybe we should all stop worrying. It seems we're in safe (and hugely entertaining) hands.


Watch: 'The Toddlerz Ball' tours across the UK and USA.