music & lyrics by Jerry Herman concepts by Larry Alford, Wayne Cilento & Jerry Herman.
St James Theatre (Studio) 12 Palace Street SW1E 5JA To 15 March 2015.
Tue–Sat 8pm Sun 7pm Mat Sat & Sun 2.45pm.
Runs 1hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 264 2140.
Review: William Russell 4 March.
Two Broads and a Canary warbling wonderfully.
Jerry Herman was one of the greatest composer’s of Broadway show-tunes, with shows like Hello Dolly, Dear World and Mame to his name, shows all with marvellous roles for leading ladies like Carol Channing, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Ginger Rogers and Angela Lansbury, not forgetting Dora Bryan and Danny La Rue.
This revue, first performed in 1985 in Florida and later on Broadway, was a celebration of Jerry’s ladies and all sorts of Broadway divas appeared in it in subsequent years all over the world. This version is an evening of unalloyed pleasure performed superbly by Anna-Jane Casey, Ria Jones – the Broads – and Sarah-Louise Young – the Canary. They could not be bettered. The selection of songs may be a shade predictable, but clearly the choice had Herman’s blessing so one can hardly complain.
Perhaps we could have been told a little more about his career which was one of feast or famine, because after Dolly in 1964 and Mame 1966, both were running at the same time on Broadway, he did not have another hit until La Cage Aux Folles in 1983, but that is to quibble.
Casey destroying a daffodil and assaulting a grand piano doing Mabel’s ‘Wherever He Ain’t’ from Mack and Mabel, is pure delight, as is her rendering of Nelson from A Day in Hollywood, in which Janette Macdonald reveals just what she thinks of her celebrated co-star. Young sings a moving ‘It Only Takes a Moment’ from Hello Dolly, and Jones stops the show with ‘I Am What I Am’ from La Cage Aux Folles. She is a footlights lady if ever there was one.
But so are the other two. One cannot leave out the pianist, Edward Court, or Sophie Byrne, who plays saxophone, clarinet and flute, both of whom end up tap-dancing along with the girls. Maybe nearly two hours of Broadway diva songs is a little bit lacking in variety, but they are such good songs so well performed it hardly matters.
Cast: Anna-Jane Casey, Ria Jones, Sarah-Louise Young.
Piano: Edward Court.
Reeds: Sophie Byrne.
Director: Kate Golledge.
Lighting: Peter Harrison.
Musical Director: Edward Court.
Choreographer: Matthew Cole.
Costume: Rebecca Gunstone.