Before this musical revue – celebrating the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman – reached Broadway in 1985, it played in the more intimate surroundings of a New York nightclub. Perhaps, then, this thrilling revival at the St James Studio is closer to what the composer and his collaborator Larry Alford intended.
While director Kate Golledge and choreographer Matthew Cole deserve high praise for creating an enchanting tribute to one of musical theatre’s finest songwriters, they also acknowledge how well his work resonates without the fancies of a large-scale production.
Oozing girl power, Anna-Jane Casey, Ria Jones and Sarah-Louise Young pay tribute to both the strong female characters Herman created – Dolly, Mabel, Mame – and the string of striking female performers (Streisand, Merman, Channing, Lansbury etc) who brought them to life.
Casey and Jones are on stunning form, their note-perfect vocals enhanced by a masterclass in musical storytelling. The gentle romance Casey expresses in Song On the Sand from La Cage Aux Folles is particularly touching, while Jones’ intensely powerful rendition of I Am What I Am from the same piece stops the show.
Young initially lacks the stage presence of her fellow artists, but by Act II she begins to find her mojo, ad-libbing with the crowd and bringing a freshness to her version of Look What Happened to Mabel.
The best number to showcase the talents of all involved – including talented musicians Edward Court and Sophie Byrne – is the feel-good Tap Your Troubles Away. It’s not a bad reason to pay the show a visit either.
Dates: March 3-15, PN March 4