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Alison Jiear

Published Monday 8 June 2009 at 13:35 by Mark Shenton

Alison Jiear established her powerhouse diva credentials once and for all in her Laurence Olivier-nominated performance as Shawntell in the original London production of Jerry Springer - the Opera in 2003, but although the tune I Just Wanna Dance took her out of the theatre and into the clubs when it became a hit dance track (and she recently sang at the Sydney Mardi Gras party), it doesn’t feature in her return to a more intimate sort of club setting in cabaret.

Instead, she just wants to sing, and we just want to listen to her. Sure, she can still belt, but she also accesses a whole range of different colours and emotions in this wide-ranging set of gorgeous songs, beautifully chosen and hauntingly arranged to the stonking accompaniment of the Clive Dunstall Trio, to demonstrate a new-found grace and maturity.

I’ve always loved the mischievous Jiear and that persona is still gloriously on offer in a hilarious, intentionally off-key rendition of One Note Samba, or recreating a jingle she once recorded for an ad for Tampax. But if the comic notes, as well as the musical ones, come effortlessly - not least in her rendition of Everybody Wants to Do a Musical from the short-lived 1991 musical Nick & Nora - she’s also now in a more reflective, evocative mood, too, and it’s lovingly embraced by such wonderful choices as Anne Hampton Callaway’s Never Really Mine to Lose, Scott Allan’s Goodnight or the Bacharach/Costello collaboration, This House Is Empty Now.

As those selections demonstrate, Jiear hardly goes for the standard-issue showtune or cabaret repertoire, though she does offer a liltingly lovely rendition of Smile. And you’ll be grinning from ear to ear, and maybe shedding a tear or two, when she offers the David Phelps’ song, I Just Call You Mine, that could provide a new signature song for her life story: “Everyone that knows you/ always has a smile/ You’re a standing ovation/ after years of waiting / For a chance to shine / Everyone calls you amazing/

But I just call you mine.” You may just want to call her yours, too, after seeing this sensational and moving set.

Production information

Pizza on the Park, London, June 7-8, 14-15, 21-22

Jeff Harner's American Songbook in London
Musical director:
Clive Dunstall
Running time:
80 mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014