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Liberace Live From Heaven

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Liberace Live from Heaven is set outside the Pearly Gates, where the outrageously camp pianist has just arrived, along with his diamante studded Baby Grand. St Peter, voiced by Stephen Fry, can’t decide whether to admit him or send him to the “eternal down below”, so the audience is cast as a jury of angels, who must decide his eternal fate. What follows is part biography, part cabaret, part pantomime as the self proclaimed ‘Mr Showmanship’ gives the performance of his afterlife.

Bobby Crush as Liberace is compelling grotesque, dripping with rhinestones and camp charm. He gives us a taste of a real Liberace show, from the excellent piano playing to the eye watering costumes, frequently asking members of the audience to help him change into something “more spectacular.

The giggling and grinning do become rather tiresome however, so it is fascinating when Crush lets the smile slip. Liberace was a mysterious character, an apparently overt homosexual who would sue anyone who suggested he was gay. The moral implications of this are never satisfactorily explored, nor is the sinister relationship between the performer and teenager Scott Thorson. Instead, Liberace Live from Heaven cops out with sentimental platitudes.

By the end of the show both AIDS and homosexuality have been neatly explained by God (voiced brilliantly by Victoria Wood) and, when it comes to the vote, not a single member of the audience of angels chooses to send Liberace to hell. Why would we? Liberace Live from Heaven is brilliantly entertaining, although it’s a shame it didn’t dare go darker. Like the Liberace Ambrosia cocktails created for the show: sickly sweet but fantastic fun.


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