Jerry’s Girls at Jermyn Street Theatre
Jerry Herman’s name is synonymous with theatre royalty. He is a multi-award composer/lyricist and a man who has delighted audiences for years with timeless songs such as Hello Dolly, It’s Today, I Am What I Am: songs that decades later are still played in films, concert halls and karaoke bars from London to Tokyo. A musical revue based on Herman’s songs, Jerry’s Girls originated as a modest production in a Manhattan nightclub in 1981 before premiering on Broadway four years later. Now, Kate Golledge has revived the play to rejuvenate its cabaret roots and simultaneously celebrate one of the world’s most virtuosic composers/lyricists.
Set in the heart of London, celebrated for being a world capital in the arts and cabaret, the Jermyn Street Theatre is an ideal spot. It is a comfortable and intimate enough space to bring us closer to Herman’s music. With barely a stage, but an ample floor area adorned with a piano at the far end, Golledge’s use of the bijou area is creative. Having the performers sat at tables framing the stage as if they were part of the audience adds to the intimacy. Hanging on the walls are photographs of Jerry’s girl’s – the giants Herman worked with – Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Barbra Streisand. Behind the piano sits musical director, Edward Court, accompanying the performers with skilful playing and rich, clear vocals. To the left stands Sophie Byrne, a musical enigma, who delights with an assortment of wind and string support, switching fluently from flute to saxophone, clarinet to ukulele and a piano interlude, allowing Court brief relief to entertain with a guest tap-dance.
Jerry’s Girls is cabaret at its very best, brought to another dimension by Ria Jones and co-stars Sarah-Louise Young and Emma Barton. Jones’ skill is unquestionable, evident in with her ability to play satire in Take It All Off, sensitivity in Before the Parade Passes By and stirring self-assertion in I Am What I Am. Her voice, nothing short of a powerhouse, brings the crowd to a stunned frenzy as upper notes permeate the air. Young is kooky, engaging and witty – a natural comedic talent – while Barton proves she is much more than just a pretty face. Together they have an effortless rapport and none of them take themselves too seriously, adding to the intimacy and humour enhanced by the snug space.
Warm, exciting, humorous, emotional and reminiscent, this revival has it all. Head down to the Jermyn Street Theatre where you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.
Jerry’s Girls is on at Jermyn Street Theatre until 31st May, for more information or to book visit here.