Anna-Jane Casey performed at Live At Zédel, London.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Anna-Jane Casey, back at Live At Zédel for two performances, opened her act with the Bette Midler ditty ‘Stuff Like That There’ and made it clear from the start this was going to be a swinging affair.
This was followed by a virtuoso version of ‘Getting Married Today’ from Company, quoting about 146 musical titles instead of the normal lyrics.
Of course, having played Dot in the revival of Sunday in the Park With George at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2005, the actress and singer is no stranger to the word play of the great Sondheim.
So a confession from Casey that she was actually not a huge fan of musicals came as a kind of shock, especially as she made her debut as a kid in Annie in Manchester, and has appeared in many of them, even marrying her West Side Story co-star Graham MacDuff 19 years ago!
What she meant of course was that she was not listening to musicals when she was back at home, and that shows within the genre were often either very good or very bad, a fact we cannot but agree with…
But having starred in the likes of Chicago, Mack and Mabel, Spamalot and Billy Elliot, one can say musical theatre has treated her well.
Assuming the audience was more interested in her life beyond showbusiness, she shared her cooking talents with everyone by distributing homemade cookies in the middle of a spirited rendition of ‘I Can Cook Too’ from On the Town.
Much less amusing were her lengthy discussions about the virtues of eating placenta and we would have rather seen her show off her dancing ability than her own umbilical cord, turned into a heart-shaped brooch for her little girl!
Casey was at her best in powerhouse renditions of ‘Somewhere’, ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ and in a moving tribute to the great Jerry Herman, composer of the last two musicals she appeared in, with a heartfelt rendition of ‘If He Walked Into My Life’ from Mame, a part that would fit her well one day in the future.
Her audience participation during ‘La Vie en Rose’ was engaging and her self-deprecating humour was put to good use with ‘Please Don’t Hand Me Your Baby’ (borrowed from Roulston and Young) and Stiles and Drewe’s ‘Carrying a Torch’.
Giving her talented musical director Paul Herbert some welcome breaks, she also showed off her ability to accompany herself with the ukulele, but we could have done without her special guest from the future cast of Hamilton reading lyrics from his mobile phone!