Rebecca Perry’s one-women tribute to four icons of the Golden Age of cinema is a cheery and bouncy hour celebrating Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Betty Hutton and Lucille Ball. Throughout the show, Perry sings some of their most recognisable numbers and drops in little soupçons of biographical information along the way.
Good-hearted, upbeat and lots of fun
Little new is learned about the women, for the hour is really a scaffolding opportunity for Perry to showcase and switch between her range of vocal and comic skills. She doesn’t impersonate the women as such, but accentuates some of their more recognisable idiosyncrasies. Davis – cigarette; Garland – wide-eyes; Hutton – goofy; and Ball – flinty. As a result, the piece can feel a little uneven at times, and although she is clearly in genuine thrall to each of the stars, Perry’s connection with Judy Garland and Lucille Ball feels stronger than that of the Betts, and the show would perhaps benefit from extending focus on these two. Certainly, whilst singing Garland’s ballads, Perry’s warm and rich voice finds much of Garland’s smoky yearning, and even at the space of eighty years, one can feel the desperation and sadness cutting through the lyrics and campy mannerisms.
Ably supported by her pianist and a range of representative props, Perry conjures a cabaret style atmosphere which is well suited to the venue. The script isn’t always sure if it’s championing feminism, unapologetically fan-girling, or delivering a biographical sketch, but that probably doesn’t matter for those who simply want to hear some classic standards belted out. The show breaks little in the way of new ground, but – one suspects much like Perry herself – is undeniably good-hearted, well-intentioned, upbeat and lots of fun.