★★★★ | Julie Madly Deeply, Trafalgar Studios
Julie Madly Deeply is an affectionate look at the life of one of the most iconic stars of stage and screen, Dame Julie Andrews.
Lifelong fan, Sarah-Louise Young, already a well-known name on the cabaret circuit, quips and quotes her way through the show she wrote with an eloquent ease, interspersing anecdotes with just some of the many songs Andrews is best known for from Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and The Boy Friend.
Young infuses the show with her natural warmth and plenty of wit, and her devotion to Andrews is evident throughout. She speaks of her with passion and charm, using her perfect diction and clear singing voice to effectively mimic the star. Young’s versatility is evident as she effortlessly jumps between characters, including Audrey Hepburn and a deliciously slurring Liza Minnelli who pops up with familiar regularly.
Musical Director Michael Roulston plays a perfect role, supporting and guiding Young throughout. His comedic flair and wonderfully expressive manner adds a great deal, and their chemistry is clearly visible.
The staging is sparse, with just a chair, microphone and piano, but no more is needed. The focus is entirely held by Young and Roulston, and the characters they weave into this story (including a penguin that requires some help to leave the stage).Post-interval, one more prop arrives, in the form of a truly extraordinary Alpine landscape covered dirndl. Never before have I seen a movie so accurately embodied in costume.
There is not a dull moment in either Act, and Young joyously wraps the evening up with what can only be described as a “Sing-along-a-Julie” finale, which has even the shyest audience member singing along to a medley that reminds us all just how many of Andrews’ songs are embedded deep within us.
A thoroughly modern retrospective which is wholly deserving of a sell-out run, Julie Madly Deeply is a witty, charming and entirely fitting tribute to a true star. I have no doubt at all that, if Julie herself were to see the show, she would be deeply flattered.
Julie Madly Deeply plays at Trafalgar Studios until 4 January, 2014. Tickets are £20-30 from http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/julie-madly-deeply/trafalgar-studios/ and well worth every penny.