Annie's Room

Annie’s Room purports to be a biographical show about jazz singer Annie Ross, but there is very little biography in this apart from a bald statement of a few facts which could have been culled from Wikipedia. Minor childhood stardom in Hollywood, reunion with family in Scotland (her brother was Jimmy Logan), moving to Paris, taking a lot of drugs, meeting a lot of musos, forming the trio, Lambert, Hendicks and Ross and opening a nightclub which is where we leave her in 1964(ish) even though she also had an acting career well into the 1990s. In her heyday she was the premier British jazz singer, more cutting edge than Cleo Laine.

This is really an excuse for Australian Kate Fuller to string together a selection of Ross’s Greatest Hits, from a jazzed ‘You’ll Take the High Road’, through the tongue-twisting ‘Twisted’ to ‘Got a Lot of Living to do’. Fuller doesn’t attempt an impersonation of Ross, although her vocal range is about the same and she imitates some of the mannerisms. What she misses is Ross’s effortless sense of cool onstage style and her humour. Ross was, after all, an actress as well as a singer and acted her songs to the point of using quite a lot of parlando in order to sell the lyric. Fuller is a bit po-faced and over-reverent, though she often hits more of the notes than Ross ever did and has a virtuoso technique. She is ably supported by the Louis Durra Trio in the 1950s cool style.

I remember buying LPs in the 1970s and always feeling rather cheated if there was less than 20 minutes of music on a side. This show is a scant 35 minutes, and produces the same reaction. One for fans of superior supper jazz, but not what it claims on the tin.

Reviews by Peter Scott-Presland

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Rosemary Branch Theatre

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★★★
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The Blurb

Award-winning songstress, Kate Fuller, tells the story of Scottish-born jazz singer and queen of vocalese, Annie Ross. Recreating 1960s London and Ross’ famed Convent Garden nightclub, this is one party you won’t want to miss!

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