Ruthie Henshall – Live and Intimate
Aussie audiences love comedy and there was no shortage of it in West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall’s Live and Intimate.
Opening with the Comden and Green tongue-twisting classic, “If You Hadn’t But You Did” (Two on the Aisle) in which we heard every word, she followed with songs she’s sung throughout her career with the comic turns registering high on the audience meter. A funny song about a train station announcer who injects sexual innuendo into station names like ‘Wokin’ was hilarious, but Victoria Woods “The Ballad of Barry and Freda”, better known as “Let’s Do It”, in which Freda is trying to persuade her husband Barry into having sex while she’s frisky but he’s having none of it, brought the house down. And with anecdotes about playing characters who die or are murdered, forgetting the lyrics to a Sondheim song when he was in the audience, and to Fantine in Les Misérables suddenly rising from the dead during a Les Mis mishap, comedy ruled.
There was a generous helping of Sondheim (“The Ladies Who Lunch”/“Being Alive”), “Electricity” from Billy Elliot was a heartfelt paean to her thrill at discovering theatre as a kid, whilst Dear Evan Hansen’s “So Big/So Small” delineated her own feelings about how she felt when her ex-husband came to collect his things after moving out.
Her many appearances in Chicago (her favourite show) both in London and on Broadway, where she became the only British actor to play all female leads, resulted in a rousing and audience pleasing medley.
Best and most emotional moment was The Beatles “In My Life.”
Paul Schofield’s piano charts throughout were exemplary. The voice may not be what it once was, but she can still hit the money notes as she proved in her final song, “I Dreamed a Dream.” Apart from being super-talented, she’s a warm and down-to-earth performer and it was a pleasure to be in her company.