Why the future’s Beige
Lenny Beige is a showbiz legend. At least, that’s what he tells John Nathan
FOR OVER a decade, singer Lenny Beige has been crooning to cabaret audiences and crowing about his high-flying career. Now Beige is playing London’s fashionably old-fashioned Pigalle Club. The show serves as a self-tribute and a celebration of his old friend and mentor, the late Anthony Newley.
Beige, of course, does not really exist — he is a character created by comedy actor Steve Furst. “The problem with these made-up stories,” Furst says, “is that people think you’re making up the stories about Newley too.”
Furst is a serious fan of Newley, whose career kicked off as the Artful Dodger in David Lean’s film version of Oliver Twist and grew into one of the country’s finest singer-songwriters. With Leslie Bricusse he wrote the Bond theme Goldfinger.
Despite Beige’s self-proclaimed superstar status, it is Furst who is more likely to get recognised on the streets. Not just because of his regular appearances in TV comedies like Little Britain, but mainly because of the Orange cinema adverts. Furst plays one of a panel of philistines to which stars like John Cleese and Steven Seagal have to pitch their movie ideas. “I get recognised all the time because of that,” says Furst. “It’s unbelievable, the power of cinema.”
Furst, 40, was raised in a musical family in Muswell Hill, North London, and now lives in St Leonards on the South Coast — or, as Beige calls it, “St Lenny’s” — with his comedian wife Wendy Wason and their two children.
He has plans in the pipeline to go to Los Angeles to audition for a few TV pilots. There is also a film treatment which cashes in on the profile that has been built up by the cinema ads.
“I know a lot of very famous people out there — Sacha Baron Cohen, Robbie [Williams] — and if you’re out there doing a little showcase, you can say to them ‘come down’, and then that gets you written about. It’s a good time to be British out there.” Once In A Lifetime: A Night of Newley is at the Pigalle Club, London W1 on November 14. Tel: 0845 345 6053
Superstar Lenny Beige (aka Steve Furst). Even his hair is entertaining