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Sarah-Ann Cromwell, a Birmingham lass who has discovered that ‘you don’t have to be posh to sing opera’, chats and sings up a storm in Diva Gigs. Charting her opera journey, which has taken her around the UK and Europe, Cromwell summons several colourful characters to tell her story, including a disdainful opera coach and Rhydian, of X Factor fame. With the help of a skillful pianist who isn’t afraid to join in the fun, Cromwell blasts out the numbers that have shaped her career, accompanied by hilarious explanations of the operatic story-lines, with the disclaimer ‘it sounds much more romantic in Italian’.

Cromwell breaks free from the yoke under which many female comedians find themselves – the idea that women can only be funny if they are making jokes about being women and it is this which makes her show so remarkable. Apart from a brief tribute to her favourite female singer and songwriter, Cromwell makes no mention of her gender, reaching instead for witty tales about Walsall and her music students, which leave many of the audience in fits of laughter.

Cromwell produces a show about opera which is enjoyable even for people who would shudder at the thought of it, though her act does become a little disjointed at times, when she fails to fully explain some of her chosen arias as fully as perhaps some of the less opera-literate would like. However, her ability to sing beautifully, in a range of hilarious voices, while performing a series of wacky dance moves and insisting that she is completely tone deaf, makes this small flaw pale into insignificance.

This, Cromwell’s first show at the Fringe, is a triumph. She makes mention in her act of an occasion when her gags were met with stony silence, but she needn’t worry about Diva Gigs. This is a show for all ages and nationalities, for the posh and the proudly working-class and proves that both music and laughter are pretty much universal.

Venue Number 54. SpaceCabaret @ 54, North Bridge, EH1 2HE. 3-17 August 17:00 (50 minutes). Suitability: U.

The Blurb

A warm and funny romp into the fabulous world of the UK’s first rebel opera singer. Diva Gigs is an unforgettable treat that dispels any myth that opera is exclusively posh!

Call Sheet

Production Company
Sarah-Ann Cromwell

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