I’m just back from the fantastic Dancehouse Theatre (Oxford Road, Manchester) after accepting a very kind invite to attend this evening’s performance of LIZA on an E, and I have to say right now, the show was absolutely sensational!
Liza was definitely in Manchester tonight, in spirit, if apparently not in body* channelled superbly by Trevor Ashley, who I’ve spent the last few days researching in to, and loved in what I’ve seen of him as Edna in the Australian production of Hairspray (for anyone not already in the know, Hairspray is my BIG theatre weakness!!!).
Without doubt, the best ‘cabaret’ act that I’ve seen in quite some time, and my face genuinely aches from smiling so much, and for so long. I was one of the first to ovate at the end, and I have to say, it was well worth trading in an evening with Mary Berry and the Great British Bake Off to spend it in the company of another sensational diva – and, as any fellow gay will tell you, to be dragged away from Mary Berry and her stiff peaks, is QUITE the accolade!!! 😉
The set list is dynamic, and held my interest (I actually squealed a little when Sunset Boulevard started up – one of my favourites!) and the musical director, James Simpson, hammers at the piano wonderfully, getting sounds out of it to match Trevor Ashley’s magnificent vocals. The rest of the band was fabulous, and I especially want to shout out the rather proper looking trumpet player towards the corner, who I noticed giggling like a naughty school girl during all of the rude jokes – bless you love!
I’m a sucker for many a musical theatre lad, and guest performer, Christopher Mitchell, absolutely made my heart melt – cute as a button, eyes I could melt in, and such a lovely ‘musical theatre’ voice – very expressive, and a nice contrast during the costume change.
If you’re going to see this show, the one game you absolutely have to play is ‘guess who has come to the show expecting to see actual Liza’ – we had a hoot playing, and were right 99% of the time. Yes, that’s right, quite a few people seemed to think that Liza would be playing a fringe theatre in Manchester on a Tuesday night, at £30 a ticket. I know, right?! There was a couple sat next to us who were very square, in their 50s, and looked like a smile might kill them, and they sat through the entire first act completely deadpan. Needless to say, they, along with quite a few others, didn’t make it back to their seats for act two. That said, the audience atmosphere is a million times better in act two, as now you’re left with the proper fans, the people who absolutely love this sort of show, or Liza, and who are open-minded enough to let loose and have some fun.
In honour of such a lovely evening, and my singing most of the songs rather loudly on the walk back home – high kicks and all – I came up with a little ditty below for you all:
Put down, the TV guide, the washing, the vacuum,
Cos Liza’s in town today.
This show is not drag, it’s cabaret ol’ chum.
Come to the cabaret (unless you’re a Nun),
Come taste the wine, then taste a gin,
Come sample plenty of cider, fall on the floor,
Then right this way, it’s 8pm and Trevor Ashley’s waiting!
What good’s, reviewing, if it’s all doom and gloom?
Astonishingly only 80% of the audience were gay!
This show is definitely late night and not a matinee ol’ chum
(Did I mention that Liza looks like me Mum?)
For more information on the show itself, which is playing at the Dancehouse again tomorrow evening, Wednesday 2 October 2013, before heading onward to Liverpool on Saturday 5th and finishing up in the dazling lights of London, for one night only, on Monday 7 October, please see my previous post.
In terms of the Dancehouse itself, I have to say, the venue was absolutely not what I had been expecting having spent years heading past it on the bus and it’s rather charming but uninspiring frontage. That you walk in to a proper theatre space is marvellous, and I think that this has just become my new favourite fringe space in Manchester! It also helps immensely that they seem to employ only the very best looking of people, which may also have tipped the balance for this old flirt, haha!
* (this reviewer, for one, is still not convinced that Liza herself wasn’t up on stage!)