The classic musicals are classics for a reason. As the years pass by, their popularity hasn’t waned and their token songs have become ingrained in the minds of our modern society. Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music are undoubtedly such musicals. The original musical films made a star of their leading lady, Dame Julie Andrews, who is beloved as musical theatre royalty to this day, despite no longer being the successful singing sensation she once was. Her UK concert performance at the O2 Arena in 2010, which was her first stage appearance in thirty years, unfortunately highlighted all too clearly just how much her voice has suffered since the botched throat operation in 1997 which damaged her vocal chords. Fans were left sorely disappointed when she left the majority of the actual singing to her backing singers, only performing five solo numbers throughout the course of the entire evening for most of which she wasn’t even on-stage. Using the concert as a platform to promote the children’s book she co-wrote with her daughter wasn’t a great crowd-pleaser either, and by the end of the evening, the biggest achievement of Julie Andrew’s comeback concert, which critic Mark Shenton called an, ‘unintentional pile-up of car-crash musical theatre’ (The Stage), was the mass audience walk-out and number of refund requests.
One recent blemish on what has been a long and very successful career doesn’t detract from her many, many actual achievements though. The much-loved star is a world-renowned stage and screen star who was famous for her four-octave soprano and has won countless awards for her performances, including a Golden Globe, Grammy, Theatre World and Academy Award. At the grand age of 78, her fans are still loyal to her and she remains an idol to many performers in the world of musical theatre.
Actress Sarah-Louise Young is one such performer who openly admits to her admiration for Julie Andrews, so much so in fact, that she has created an entire show around her. Julie Madly Deeply is Young’s ‘candid love letter to a true showbiz survivor’, which was one of the biggest hits of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And now, fresh from its acclaimed run there, this amusing and affectionate cabaret is coming to the West End for a six-week limited engagement.
Mountview graduate Sarah-Louise Young is an award-winning actress/singer who has previously performed in the West End and is known for being a member of Fascinating Aida and Showstoppers! The Improvised Musical. She has also had phenomenal success with her solo shows, receiving five star reviews for her former shows Cabaret Whore and Cabaret Whore Encore! Both were created with on-stage pianist and collaborator, Michael Rouston, who has reunited with Young once again for her latest offering. Julie Madly Deeply is a journey through the life and career of Dame Julie, exploring her relationship with her adoring fans and telling stories and anecdotes which cover such moments as her beginnings as a child star and the challenges of losing her singing voice – even the disastrous 02 concert is mentioned. First coming out on stage in full-Maria von Trapp attire, Young also performs those memorable songs she is most known for, with numbers from The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins making an appearance amongst the 18-track song list which features throughout the show. It’s an incredible show for any fan of Andrews; full of comedic relief, moments of inspiration, and a truly detailed knowledge of not only her envious career, but also the woman behind the voice.
Julie Madly Deeply was a smash-hit with fans at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and has been on the receiving end of many praiseworthy reviews during the course of its international tour, but now Young is bringing her acclaimed show to the West End for the Christmas season. It opens at Trafalgar Studio 2 on 25th November 2013 and runs through until 4th January 2014.
Age catches up with all of us in the end and takes great pleasure in exerting its force upon us when it does. Julie Andrews is one of the best there ever was, and one would hope that a less-than-stellar concert performance by a woman in her Seventies isn’t enough to tarnish an otherwise shining showbiz career. Thousands of aspiring performers can only dream of reaching the same dizzying heights of success that she did and would be lucky to achieve even a quarter of what she has in her life. In her cabaret show, Sarah-Louise Young pays homage to a true legend of the entertainment world in the most wonderful way and reminds her audience exactly why, to this day, Julie Andrews remains one of our ‘favourite things’.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 10th October 2013