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Faith Brown – Up Front review at Theatre Royal and Opera House Wakefield

In the chocolate boxy surroundings of this splendid Matcham theatre, this is a one-woman show, right down to the fact that backing tracks are employed instead of a live band. But there again, this is Yorkshire and the patrons are used to seeing pits not working.

When some artists reach national treasure status, they are able to look back on a glittering showbusiness career and turn the act of reminiscence into a completely new stage act.

However first and foremost Faith Brown is a singer and her rendition of As If We Never Said Goodbye, from Sunset Boulevard reminded us that many of those in the know in musical theatre-land consider her far and away the best performer ever to play Norma Desmond.

There were many reminders, if given the plunging neckline on her gowns that reminders were actually necessary, of Brown’s celebrated and extraordinary bosom.

There were also memories of starting out, turning from music to impressions and a certain encounter on national television with Freddie Starr and some maggots.

But oddly enough no anecdotes about her recent weird encounters with David Gest on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and even more strangely not a Margaret Thatcher impression in sight.

Perhaps she felt that in Yorkshire, where Thatcher set about destroying the mining industry not so long ago, that memories of Maggie would not be too welcome.

But seeing Brown on stage for two hours and not once giving us her celebrated Thatcher impression was a bit like going to a Rory Bremner gig and him not mentioning politics.

Faith Brown is going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year to perform and before then this collection of music and memories will have to be glued together more tightly with a more chronological approach to her career.

Production Information

Theatre Royal and Opera House, Wakefield, May 23, then touring until June 18

Stars and Angels/ Phia Management and TCP
Running time
2 hrs