Joan Shepard. Haven’t heard of her? Then you’re not alone – neither had I. Shepard is an ex-child actress now approaching eighty years old who has a host of interesting stories to share from her time on Broadway and television. Born in ‘deepest darkest Kensington,’ her family moved out to America when she was very young in the hope she would become a concert pianist. Instead she became a Broadway star from the age of seven, alongside names like Vivian Leigh and Tallulah Bankhead and working with the likes of Laurence Olivier. In this one-hour piece, she shares her gossip and tales from her life, interspersed with humorous songs about her adventures as a child star on the Hollywood scene.
Shepard is such a likeable character and addresses the audience with warmth and heartfelt sincerity throughout her show. Her delivery is confident as she fondly re-tells some great anecdotes from her star-studded past. The thing that is most endearing about is that Shepard never pretends to be anything she isn’t. She knows she isn’t a big time superstar and we can see real excitement as she talks about how she recently landed her first ever movie role as ‘Old Lady #2’ in Disney’s ‘College Road Trip,’ a part which delighted her so much that she named her musical memoir after it.
However I did feel that the show could have done without some of the songs. Most of them were charming and added a little variety to the performance, but I much preferred her as a raconteur than a singer. The songs were fun and some of them were well selected, but others didn’t add a lot to the show and seemed an excuse to put on a top hat and use a cane.
Overall, this show is a little gem. It’s not going to wow you but it will certainly make you smile. It’s definitely more suitable for the older generation, despite how much I enjoyed some of the stories; I feel the over 50’s would have got more of kick out of the name-dropping. Shepard is a delightful host to this show and I would recommend it to anyone interested in a life on the stage and some priceless showbiz stories.