I was looking forward to Denise Van Outen’s solo show in praise of peroxide, pulchritude, Mae West, Dolly Parton and, er, Olivia Newton-John, among others, as much as anything. So was the Edinburgh public: the show’s almost entirely sold out. But the end result is in urgent need of an overhaul before it comes to London.
Blonde’s not a hair colour, it’s a vocation; and this lovely “Basildon blonde” (the original, sadly abandoned title) is much cleverer in her calling than she makes out in her depressing back chat and sentimental ramblings about her ginger nan, her mum, and her best friendsDenise sings and presents a song as well as anyone on the West End stage, and she lays down superb versions of hits by Blondie, Dusty Springfield, Madonna and Britney Spears. But she nearly ruins all this with the family album nostalgia (and pictures) and a silly “I know how she feels” rap about Britney’s heartbreak and how she couldn’t face any more of that stuff herself.
Even with collaborators as distinguished as fellow Essex girl Jackie Clune onboard as writer and man-in-Wire Clarke Peters (who appeared with Denise in Chicago) as director, the show looks bitty and ill-disciplined, uneasily poised between chat show and a blonde song-fest. She should ditch the first and work up the second.
Mike Moran’s magnificent piano accompaniment, though, has an orchestral scale and grandeur about it, whether matching Denise’s impressive assault on a Bonnie Tyler standard or disguising the thin tawdriness of a Kylie Minogue hit.
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