The Matcham Room, London Hippodrome, Charing Cross Road 20 April 2014.
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.
Review: William Russell 20 April.

The lady is a (splendid) vamp.
Divas face a problem in the world of musicals these days. The years when a Merman, Kirkwood, Wallis, Laye or Martin could have a hit every two years or so have long gone.

There are fewer musicals designed for divas for a start. The other problem is, hit musicals now run for ever and nobody goes to see them because of who is in them. Gifted the leading players in Les Miserables, Jersey Boys or Phantom may be, but household names they are not. Indeed they may not even be names in their own household.

The incentive to come up with a vehicle for a star isn’t there. Who, for instance, is playing Willy Wonka? Actually a name, but not above the title. So what does Liz Robertson do?

She does a one-woman show, exploiting the fact her voice has dropped a little. She is fulfilling a wish; she has always wanted to be “sexy, down and dirty like Ella, Nina and Cleo” but there was nothing warm and smoky in her sound. Now there is.

At one point she jokes about being taken as the successor to Julie Andrews. You get the message: don’t type-cast me. I can do more than trill the high notes.

The result is not a trip down memory lane, consisting of “shows I have starred in”, which is usually what divas do, but an eclectic collection of songs that mean something to her and allow her to exploit these new notes.

Deep down and dirty is the aim and when she sings ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ you had better believe it. Cole Porter was a past-master at writing the apparently innocent but very suggestive lyric and she makes the most of it.

The songs range from Porter, to Van Morrison, to the Beatles, and the Beach Boys. She opens with ‘Hit Me With a Hot Note’, and duly shows she can do exactly that before ending with ‘Birth of the Blues’. It was a one-off event, but the chances are she will be re-opening that trunk for a long time to come.

Performer: Liz Robertson.

Director: Sarah Ingram.
Musical Director: Chris Walker.
The band: Frazer Snell, Julian Poole.

2014-04-23 00:10:41

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