There are few performers who successfully make the switch from West End stardom to solo success. Going from playing a part to exposing your real personality to an audience is no mean feat, but Louise Dearman makes it look easy.
In a one-off concert at The Other Palace last week, the singer, who is perhaps best known as the only British actress to have played both witches in Wicked, enthralled a near sell-out audience not only with her out-standing vocal ability, but also with her natural aptitude for comedy.
The show comes after the release of Louise Dearman’s new album. Entitled For You, For Me, it’s an album that is packed with some fantastic versions of some of her favourite songs, along with tunes that fans have asked her to perform.
Louise began the concert with a mention of the album and hilariously made reference to the title sounding like the famous Chuckle Brothers’ catch phrase. And alongside performing a plethora of well-known standards, the songstress continued to add mirth between each musical gem, to a point where I ached from laughing by the end.
But really we were all there for the music and Louise Dearman showed her versatility by performing a hugely varied programme to perfection.
Musical highlights included a powerful rendition of “Burn” from Hamilton, a glorious version of Carol King’s “Beautiful” and a fabulous Donna Summer medley, which the enthusiastic crowd were encouraged to sing along to.
Louise Dearman is a born performer and all-round entertainer, whose solo career, will undoubtedly continue to soar and I’m sure I’m not the only person, who would love to see a return to the West End in the not too distant future.
It’s easy to forget just how much impact Carol King has had on pop music. The composer wrote over 100 Billboard Top 100 hits. And the musical about her life and featuring some of her back catalogue became both a Broadway and West End hit. Now touring the UK and being staged in Wimbledon this week, the show hasn’t been pared down for the tour and with an arsenal of recognisable songs, still remains a fantastically entertaining piece of theatre.
King’s is a somewhat simple story in truth, a young girl who strives for musical greatness, but who prioritises love and family along the way. She is played with absolute charm by BrontéBarbé, who brings a real innocence and vulnerability to the role along with some truly stunning vocals. Her husband and collaborator is given a charismatic rendering by Kane Oliver Parry and the often fractured relationship sizzles whenever they are onstage. They are supported well by Amy Ellen Richardson and Matthew Gonsalves as song writing contemporaries Cynthia Weil & Barry Mann and by a fantastic ensemble who energetically portray pop starts of the era from Neil Sedaka to The Drifters.
This is a great show for fans of 60s music and with a story that is, at times heart-breaking, but ultimately liberating at its core, remains a relevant piece of theatre.
Beautiful is running at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 26 May.
Photo by Craig Sugden
With the increased discussion about what feminism in society, a play looking at its meaning to three generations of women is a brave study. And with Katy Brand’s new comedy you get an interesting insight into the journey British women have come along over the past 50 years.
In 3Women, we are given a snapshot of the lives of a baby boomer, her granddaughter, a millennial, and a member of the forgotten generation X on the eve of her wedding. It’s an interesting mix and Brand has taken the extremes and squashed them together in a sometimes-uncomfortable watch, with fractured relationships laid bare and parental guilt put on display.
But with Brand’s humour infused and some exceptional performances from the three lead cast, there are some moments of real brilliance.
Anita Dobson thrives as the hardened mother figure, whose constant disapproval of her daughter leads to some hilariously caustic one-liners, while Debbie Chazen plays the lovable bride to be with real charm. And Maisie Richardson-Sellers teenage swagger is brilliantly done.
There is however times when the trio feels a bit too caricatured and the story too contrived, but overall, this is a relatable play, with some very funny and clever writing throughout.
3Women is running at Traflgar Studio 2 until 9 June.