tue 25/06/2024

Jerry’s Girls, Menier Chocolate Factory review - just a parade that passes by | reviews, news & interviews

Jerry’s Girls, Menier Chocolate Factory review - just a parade that passes by

Jerry’s Girls, Menier Chocolate Factory review - just a parade that passes by

Three talented performers in a revue that doesn’t add up to much

Love us now! Julia Yammanee, Jessica Martin and Cassidy JansonAll images by Tristram Kenton

Catchy even when the lyrics are at their cheesiest, the Jerry Herman Songbook serves up a string of memorable tunes: you’ll probably find that, like me, you recognize about 80 per cent of the material in Jerry’s Girls. But is it enough when you (read I) have fallen in love with productions of Dear World and La Cage aux Folles but haven’t yet seen Hello, Dolly! or Mame on stage? The appetite still needs gratifying.

All’s well that ends well in Hannah Chiswick’s decent staging. But the first stretch will be a vexation to some spirits. It’s an over-extended tits-and-teeth mélange which has you screaming for some relative peace, especially as the Menier seems to have done nothing about its non-directional over-miking since I last went (is any necessary in a venue of this size?).

Cassidy Janson is a fine Broadway-style belter, but under these circumstances she virtually has the blood pouring from one’s ears. And the first pathos, her performance of “I Won’t Send Roses”, doesn’t really work out of its Mack & Mabel context. All we’re given here are three dressing-room tables and then a red curtain for the more obvious out-front numbers. The earwormiest number from that fascinating show, “Look What Happened to Mabel”, does work beguilingly well in the delivery of Julie Yammanee (pictured below), the most various voice in terms of tone-colour of the three, a flawless performer. Julie Yammaness in 'Jerry's Girls'Jessica Martin (pictured below) makes us want to see her in two key roles, Yonkers socialite-matchmaker Dolly Levi– regardless of what Imelda Staunton may make of her later this year – and Countess Aurelia, “the Madwoman of Chaililot”, heroine of Dear World. “I Don’t Want to Know” is an emotional tour de force, and “Hello, Dolly!” really gets the showbiz juices flowing in the grand finale, where the close-harmony rituals are at their finest.

Should “I Am What I Am” and, earlier, the poignant memory-jag of “Song on the Sand”, be wrested away from the middle-aged gay couple who lend them such heightened emotion in La Cage aux Folles, though? Why on earth didn’t we get the hilarious, operetta-style “Tea Party Trio” from Dear World, a highlight in any context? Was it considered non-PC to harp on mental illness – puzzling if so when there were no qualms about the stripper “take it all off/keep it all on” routines? Jessica Martn in 'Jerry's Girls"“Jerry’s Girls” the song does justify the all-female cast, though – six-piece orchestra included – by namechecking them for well-deserved applause after the likes of Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Barbra Streisand, Lucille Ball and Bernadette Peters. More could be done in Matt Cole’s choreography – typewriters rather than hoofing in “Tap Your Troubles Away” don’t really wash – and while you’re relieved that the concept isn’t overworked, the production values, despite fine lighting changes from Philip Gladwell, look a bit on the cheap side. Still, I did go out singing several tunes, and I’m going to get my Dear World, Mack and Mabel and La Cage aux Folles albums out to play right now.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters