Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start…
Cabaret star Sarah-Louise Young loves Julie Andrews. She is a super fan, the type who embarks on The Sound Of Music trips to Salzberg, who buys front row tickets for Andrews’ shows and sends presents and missives to her idol. She’s not dangerous – I don’t think – but she is obsessed, and I don’t think she’ll mind me saying.
That said, most of the audience for the Andrews-inspired show Julie Madly Deeply have a similar love for the British entertainment icon who brought the world Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp. Okay, strictly speaking she didn’t bring either to the world, but most of us will recognise her portrayals above all else.
You see, this show, previously a hit in Edinburgh in a more compact version, is a one-woman love letter to a showbiz legend.
In this case, love is not blind, just forgiving. Young knows Andrews’ record is not without blemish – Shrek The Third, we’re looking at you – but as we meet these pitfalls on the journey through Andrews’ life, refracted through Young’s own experiences, the performer pokes friendly fun. She offers, if you like, a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
If Young’s fan-o-meter had ticked over into the red stalker zone, she wouldn’t have the warmth that makes the evening such a shared experience. The intimacy of the Trafalgar Studio 2 is perfect as she expertly draws everyone in, welcoming fellow Andrews aficionados without excluding those of us who, though enjoying a spit spot of Poppins or The Sound Of Music, can’t claim that she is one of our favourite things.
With accents both inventive and shifting to create characters from Andrews’ life, from an extravagant Liza Minnelli – is there any other? – and Moss Hart to Andrews’ stepfather and a flower seller in Covent Garden, Young gives a potted biography taking us from child singing genius through the movie heights to her loss of form and tragic loss of voice.
Young, as you’d expect, does a very good Julie, all crisp intonation and Britishness, and is ably accompanied by pianist and musical director Michael Roulston, whose eyebrows match those of Roger Moore in their ability to lift a comic moment.
Featuring the finest costume this side of Pantoland, but little else in the way of design extravagance, a breakdown-summarising rendition of Do-Re-Mi and a star who you feel you are having a chat with one minute before she knocks your socks off with a tune the next, Julie Madly Deeply is an evening for fans, nostalgia-lovers and anyone in need of a jolly 100-minute holiday.