Following on from the successes of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and Classic Moments, Hidden Treasures at the same venue, director Tim McArthur’s third summer musical revue at Jermyn Street puts the work of Oscar and Emmy award-winning lyricist Dorothy Fields firmly in the spotlight with an impressive all-female West End cast. Over thirty of her best songs from a career spanning five decades are loosely tagged to a story set in a pink hairdressing salon, which connects the daily lives of all five girls.
Rosemary Ashe thrills with solos including ‘Blue Again’, ‘He Had A Refinement’ and the lovely music-hall-esque ‘A Lady Needs A Change’; she very much sets the standard. Leanne Jones adds flair of her own though, with ‘Lovely To Look At’ and ‘Remind Me’, while Shona White’s ‘Make The Man Love Me’ is a passionately portrayed highlight. When joined by Helen Hobson and Jane Milligan, the show really chimes as the company assemble for classic numbers such as Sweet Charity’s ‘Something Better Than This’, ‘If They Could See Me Now’ and ‘A Fine Romance’ from the movie Swingtime. If barber shops had female quintets, I guess this would be among the best sounding. A top hat and cane finale provides a fitting close to the sung-through presentation and allows the audience a great excuse to release their pent-up applause at curtain call.
Single piano accompaniment is perfect in such a compact venue, played brightly by musical director Sarah Travis who doubles as the salon’s feather-duster waving cleaner and even sings a few lines of her own as the evening progresses, the bubbly starts to flow and the ladies get merry.
This entertaining production both looks and sounds delightful. If there’s a fault, it’s in relation to the hairdressing concept which is rather weak, and in that regard it’s no shampoo but lots of set (David Shield’s detailed design and costumes have a central theme, everything’s pink and it works well). However, that is a minor matter which is amply offset by the very talented cast who provide a fitting tribute to the lady who, from very humble beginnings, left a songbook legacy that richly deserves the fresh look that this production affords it.
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By Gareth Richardson @BargainTheatre
19th June - 7th July 2012
Jermyn Street Theatre, London, SW1.