|Julie Andrews at the O2 Arena|
Review Round-up: Andrews Shares Gift of Music
Date: 10 May 2010
Dame Julie Andrews returned to a London stage for the first time in 30 years on Saturday night (8 May 2010), bringing her one-off show The Gift of Music: An Evening with Julie Andrews to the O2 Arena.
The 74-year-old Oscar winner was joined by an ensemble of five other singers and backed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert that featured songs from her stage and screen hits (which include The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady) and readings from her recent children's book Simeon’s Gift.
Michael Coveney on Whatsonstage.com - “Julie Andrews found her voice, or part of it, in a drably disappointing concert at the O2 Arena on Saturday night ... She is a great whopping star, no question. But she hardly earned her corn in a concert of grim kow-towing to Rodgers and Hammerstein (yes, we know they’re great; get over it) and shameless plugging of a dreadful children’s story she’s written with her daughter. Sure, she exploited her severely limited mezzo range to good effect in Rodgers and Hart’s 'My Funny Valentine', and 'Do-Re-Mi' was a gas with the audience clapping along. But honestly, if I’d paid for my ticket I would have asked for a refund … Even die-hard fans were trickling away during the terrible second half, a concert performance of the Simeon’s Gift book, a banal fable pumped up with a turgid score played with laughable conviction by the London Philharmonic ... This was my first visit to the O2. Isn’t it absolutely ghastly?”
Paul Clements in the Telegraph - “British audiences can be cruel to a comeback queen, even one who’s not enjoyed the best of health … Only the hardest hearted will be seeking a refund after Dame Julie Andrews’ first stage performance in more than a dozen years. But many will have been left wanting one … somebody should have stopped her from trying … Since the botched operation ruined her voice, she limits herself to a ‘kind of speak singing’ … With her sweet soprano now reduced to a single, smoky octave, she mostly plays compère to her grinning backing singers. Watching her perched on a stool in a spotlight while others sing her songs, is heartbreaking … A theatrically tragic spectacle, all told … This is no way to treat a national treasure, and especially not a Dame.”
Stephen Dalton in The Times - “Andrews demonstrated that her idea of entertainment has barely moved on since she became the youngest solo performer to play a Royal Variety Performance, in 1948 … Although she has lost her former four-octave range, the star joked at the O2 that she can still ‘sing the hell out of Old Man River’. She did not, sadly. In fact, she barely sang at all … this was a comeback show that featured not much coming back ... Parts of it were unintentionally funny…But ultimately it became an excruciating bore, which drove a steady exodus of disappointed punters from the arena … The flaws in this one-off concert were less to do with voice problems than with stodgy, staid, dated presentation. A few more spoonfuls of sugar might have helped this thin, sour medicine go down.”
Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian (two stars) - “This cheesy, sedate evening did have about it a whiff of Jarlsberg and formaldehyde … The Andrews singing voice is well known to be not what it was, after botched surgery in the 1990s; fragile and a little abraded, it now occupies a lower alto range, which, to my ear, had more emotional resonance, bearing the signs of a life lived … Again and again, after some scripted chat that had the unmistakably Andrews-ish regal formality, she just wheeled on her five support singers and let them get on with it, while she sang very little or just beamed supportively … Andrews's solo numbers were great … Her physical presence triggered palpable waves of affection and nostalgia, and her legendary status pretty well filled the colossal space on its own, but this was a creaky evening.”
Paul Callan in the Express (two stars) - “You have to hand it to Dame Julie Andrews. Like the old-style show business trouper she is, one of the nation’s most talented exports to Broadway and Hollywood manifestly believes that her show must go on … The trouble is her voice has not gone with her. Her famous and beautiful four-octave voice was silenced and there seemed to be no hope. Eventually some of it returned – mostly in the lower register. As she jokily explained onstage: ‘The gift has been given back to me’ … What followed was truly saddening … The evening proved that, even for great stars, there is a time to retire from the stage and leave us with golden memories.”
André Paine in the Evening Standard (two stars) - “Her carefully managed singing effort amounted to little more than 20 minutes over more than two hours. Andrews provided a conversational vocal during 'Getting To Know You' from The King and I, but much of the heavy lifting in this show was left to five younger Broadway performers … The ensemble rendition of 'Do-Re-Mi' was fun, although Andrews carefully avoided the high notes. The second half was a poor dramatic staging of a children’s book, with Andrews merely narrating the story she wrote with her daughter. At least she sang at the finale on a near-rousing 'A Cockeyed Optimist' from South Pacific and 'Edelweiss'. Andrews’ hunger to perform was certainly admirable, but the musical rations were nowhere near satisfying.”
|Totally wrong venue and totally misguided event. Miss Andrews was once again ill-served by her Management, Advisors and 'Yes' men. The 2nd Act, Simeon's Gift, Miss Andrews and her daughter's vanity publishing project- musicalised (if that's the word) by 'Team Andrews' M.D. Ian Fraser was a car crash of epic proportions worthy of Mel Brook's 'Springtime For Hitler.' And whose idea was it to wrap Julie up in gold tin foil making her looklike a size 18 chocolate?
The whole thing culminating with her singing 30 seconds of Edelweiss out of a 3 minute song. We know she can't sing the way she once did, we know she did publicity saying as much but still nonetheless a rip off evening which should have been advertised 'Julie Andrews hosts....' - Denny Crane||13 May 10|
|I remember seeing Julie Andrews for the first time years ago at the Hackney Empire along with her family. I was impressed with her then and when she appeared on stage and then in films. What I am NOT impressed by is how she has ignored the British public that gave her her first start. Like so many 'Hollywood' has-beens, now that she is not really wanted in the US, they 'rediscover' Europe and come to the UK expecting the public to 'fall over themselves' in their presence. Good as she was - and she WAS good - why has she not stayed home in Switzerland (?) where she ought to be working on her books? Please, no more 'evenings with' - leave folks with their memories. - execelsior||12 May 10|
|Julie Andrews is the greatest musical theatre performer the U.K has ever produced. Her vocal health problems have been well documented in the press and media and so anyone expecting to hear all of the old songs were sadly deluded-they covered far to wide a range of notes and recently younger voices have struggled with some of the scores. Her speaking voice is still fragile and likewise so is what is left of her singing voice.In my opinion she could not have sung or spoken any more than she did.People present should be celebrating the fact they actually got to see her in the flesh. When in good vocal health she has only appeared in the U.K a couple of times since her rise to mega- stardom with Mary Poppins and S.O.M
After the trauma of a botched thoat operation I think people should show her more compassion and celebrate her life and career. - Helen Cannell||11 May 10|
|I heard her interview with Graham Norton on Radio 2 last week and I was under no illusion that she was going to sing at Saturday night’s concert. When she did sing her voice was beautiful with that distinct ‘cut crystal’ annunciation.
It was wonderful to see her live on stage – something I thought that I would never experience. I was glad to have been there and to have seen her. Her opening line to the audience was very moving: ‘There is no where else I would rather be than on this stage with you.’
I was sorry there were no songs from The Boy Friend and My Fair Lady but they were NOT composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein (and the first half was a celebration of their music). Also, that there was no encore. At the end of the night it felt a little like
‘Good night - off you go!’
I would pay £65 to go and see Dame Julie again. It was worth every penny.
- Paul||11 May 10|
|To Peter - I meant her publicists should have done a better job but your right. Point taken or should that be the bullet :) - darkmagician||10 May 10|
|My mother, my two daughters and I had a great evening. I agree with Roy Tan we knew what to expect. I have been to many concerts at the O2 including Springsteen and Beyonce and people always walk out before the end and I have never understood it!!!! Three generations all had a good time - she may not do it like she did, but I have seen her live and what she did was well worth it! Wow! - BeeBot||10 May 10|
|Ah, er, "whoever put her back on stage"?
SHE put HERSELF back on stage.
So I guess that means you think SHE ought to be shot!
I agree. - Peter||10 May 10|
|We all know the health problems that Dame Julie has suffered and we all know that we was never going to hear that wonderful voice that she once had. I booked my tickets to see the women that has offered musical theatre much more than any other in the knowledge of her health problenms. It is sad that people are so critical, but its just human nature I suppose to be like that. Give this musical legend a break and if you are a dedicated fan celebrate that you actually saw her. - John Hodgetts||10 May 10|
|Last year Ms Andrews told ITV This Morning ( check you tube interview ) and all the press what to be expected in her show - she can only sing a few
songs.The first part will be a tribute to Rogers and Hammerstein. Second part is all about a children book she wrote and she will be supported by 5 singers through out the show. That couldn't be more clear, so if the ticket buyers expected more than it's your own problem. For the record she only been away from the stage on and off for a few minutes and most of the time she was on stage. For heaven sake's she's in
her 70's had a major operation, be respectful we don't have stars like Julie anymore ! - Roy Tan||10 May 10|
|Great to see her, sad that the production/direction values left a lot to be desired. She got the longest standing ovation I can recall when she walked on but she must have known it was not going too well in the second half as people continually walked out.
I believe that this show has been performed in the USA before coming here and maybe they accept this standard of production?
If she had used singers and dancers to take us through her career and joined in on occassions it might have worked but a kids book that was written by her did not work, nor did the unknown American chorus. While they were very well rehearsed for the second half story/pantomine UK talent could have been used for the other songs so at least you recognised people.
If this is the end of her live performances it is a sad way to go as Funny Valentine was great but she was struggling by Cockeyed Optimist and as these were her only two full songs it was sad to see
Glad I have seen her "live" finally but she deserved better and by agreeing to do it this way has to take a lot of the blame
- Albie||10 May 10|
|The poor woman! Whoever put her back on the stage to get this sort of humiliation ought to be shot! - darkmagician||10 May 10|
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