Reviewer: John Roberts
The Public Reviews Rating:
For those expecting renditions of songs from Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and Cats may be a little disappointed as Henshall has deliberately excluded standards that she has become best known for… well, apart from a little bit of jazz. She brings a level of freshness to the choices delivered, which have a strong arc of humour and personal tragedy, more of a musical journey than a musical cabaret.
Henshall, with her hair up and radiant in a figure-hugging dress, brings the sparkle back into the glamorous but rather dark interior of the Hippodrome’s Matcham Room, a perfect setting for an intimate encounter. Henshall delivers anecdotes with ease and her trademark over-the-top humour, which at times comes across as a little forced. However she is at her best when recalling tales of co-stars and her family, relishing every moment.
Henshall is undoubtedly one of the biggest female musical theatre stars to have come out of the UK, however, there may lie the rub as she is not as young as she was and unfortunately her vocal range not as strong or big as it was. Some of the song choices in her set seemed too high, bringing with them strained notes and pitchy bars. However, Henshall brings real commitment, especially to the more character-related choices in her set; Adelaide’s Lament, the hilarious and sexually-infused Working and All That Jazz being of particular note.
Paul Schofield’s clever orchestrations mean that the numbers, musically, feel well rounded and not too thin despite only being played by piano (Schofield), drums (Stephen Maclachlan), bass and guitar (Lewis Andrews).
At 100 minutes straight, the evening felt a little too long; in the cramped room, the audience was starting to get a little fidgety and, dare I say it, in need of another drink – The Hippodrome stop serving during the performance (does this defeat the object of a cabaret bar?). Overall, an enjoyable evening that might benefit from some refinement of the set list and a short ten-minute interval to allow drinks to be refilled and legs to be stretched.