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Little Voice - Big Talent!!

Published by: Paul Tyree on 27th Nov 2012 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

                            The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Sheffield Lyceum Theatre 
Mon 26 November – Sat 1 December

Running time: Approximately 2 hours 35mins, including one interval of 20 mins

Coming on the back of a wonderful British Movie written especially for Jane Horrocks there is a lot to be expected of this touring production and in many respects it delivers fantastically well. Telling the story of Little Voice a young girl with a fantastic ability for mimicking her singing idols who is cajoled and dominated into singing in public to fulfil the dreams of lesser mortals, this is a musical with surprisingly sharp teeth and a nice line in sadism.

Beverley Callard as Little Voice’s alcohol fuelled, sex obsessed mother is surprisingly good and throws herself into the role with great gusto and a nice line in comedy. I would even go so far as to say she better represents the character of the fading beauty queen than Brenda Blethyn in the film role. In her climactic speech it even seemed as though she were drawing on her past experiences in real life to colour and give added intensity to her performance.

The real star however has to be Jess Robinson as Little Voice. I was worried about how closely her characterisation mirrored Jane Horrocks and would have preferred a different interpretation, but I would imagine that’s how she’s been directed in the role. However when it comes to the actual point of Little Voice, which is the impersonations, she is spot on and again better than the film version. Her voice is stronger and she brings with her a wider range of voices which are surprising and delightful. The first half lulls the audience into the misguided belief that she might be a one trick pony as the over-reliance on the Judy Garland impression matches the film, but it is in the second half where we finally see Miss Robinson as the genuine talent that she is. She is allowed to blossom and brings with her two show-stopping performances which genuinely leave you breathless.

As a warning however, if you’re not as familiar with the voices that she does as I am, then of course her true brilliance may go unnoticed. They are mostly note perfect and spot on which brings a real thrill and a genuine tear at the end.

Duggie Brown and the ensemble bring a real variety feel to the proceedings and some of their bits at the opening of the show and of the second act you really wished could have lasted longer.

Of course, the show is not without its flaws. Philip Andrew as Ray Say seems a strange casting considering Michael Caine played this character in the movie and it worked wonderfully. Mr Andrew is far too young and indeed unjaded to accept this role. He plays it professionally but there is a jarring because in this version his character would simply dust himself off and go looking for the next talent, whereas with Michael Caine you really felt his desperation and the sense this was his last chance at something good. Ray Quinn is also extremely professional but you do get a sense the producers simply wanted another name for the poster, as any young actor could have played this part.

Sally Plumb as Sadie, Beverley Callard’s fat friend is exceptionally good in a comedic role, but as my companion for the evening pointed out the fact that there are so many offensive references to her weight does leave you feeling slightly uneasy about how this character is being treated. The show would be no less if some of these were removed.

All in all, however this is a great night out at the theatre. Bear in mind, though, that swearing is included as I think some of the Lyceum’s older patrons nearly fell out of their seats several times throughout the night. Ah bless!

Tue 27 Nov 7:45pm   £17.00 - £26.00 Book Tickets
Wed 28 Nov 7:45pm   £17.00 - £26.00 Book Tickets
Thu 29 Nov 2:00pm   £17.00 - £24.00 Book Tickets
Thu 29 Nov 7:45pm Audio Described, Signed £17.00 - £26.00 Book Tickets
Fri 30 Nov 7:45pm   £17.00 - £28.00 Book Tickets
Sat 1 Dec 3:00pm Captioned £17.00 - £24.00 Book Tickets
Sat 1 Dec 7:45pm   £17.00 - £28.00





1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Ah, Paul. I've wanted to see this for years and managed to miss it both times it has been in Glasgow. It sounds like it is still worth every penny of the ticket price.
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