Paul Johnson | 09 Nov 2012 15:51pm
THIS is probably the first time I’ve started a review by talking about something that happened in the Ladies’ toilets, but in my efforts to find something new and original to say about a group on whom I have previously lavished every superlative in the book, I’m always looking for a different angle so!
There I was, making myself comfortable before the second half, when I tuned into a conversation between two unseen ladies that is, I think, worth repeating. First lady: “They’re very good, aren’t they?”. Second lady: “Oh yes, absolutely brilliant. We saw them last year for the first time when we were here on holiday and were so impressed that we arranged this year’s break so that we could come and see them again.” When your standard is so high that people even work their holidays around your performances, you know you’re getting it right. Very right indeed.
For 14 years The Boss, Jean Chambers, assisted by accompanist par excellence Mary Potter, has been honing the skills of this group almost to perfection. Perhaps the word ‘almost’ is unnecessary, but who knows what heights may still yet be reached by these absolutely outstanding singers?
For starters they always look so right. This year’s outfits were black and white, with the addition of something red in part two, the ladies having far more freedom of choice than usual in what they wore – and it worked a treat. They’re also synchronised down to the smallest movement, so that if, for example, a soloist is performing to the side of the main group, all eyes are on that person. The particular number in this instance was the rarely heard You Are The Light, from Metropolis, with a superb solo from Jeanette Hancock.
This year’s programme encompassed jazz, standards, nursery rhymes, sacred and show songs, many with the wonderful arrangements that are the group’s secret weapon. Nelson, for instance, would possibly have known Drunken Sailor but most definitely not the version that we heard last night! And, in whatever genre they’re singing, the sound is first-class, with plenty of light and shade and, particularly now that a few more men have joined the ranks, an excellent balance of voices.
If I were to be very slightly picky I might say that Dream of Olwen didn’t quite work, and I had a slight impression that One Day More almost got out of time, but there was so much that was truly wonderful that perhaps my pickiness is inappropriate.
The brilliant arrangement of Humpty Dumpty was hugely amusing and I adored Plaisir d’Amour, the Chorus Line Medley, the Gloria from A Little Jazz Mass, Bui Doi/ Last Night of the World from Miss Saigon and Bethlehem from Martin Guerre. And from the same show, the song Sleeping On Our Own, superbly performed by Marilyn Coombes, Trish Russell and Jeanette Moy-Thomas, deservedly brought the house down.
And no Jean, I didn’t find myself singing There Was An Old Man Called Michael Finnegan during my sleeping hours, but I can’t now get it out of my head!
- : user
- : 07/07/2012