The artistic director at Derby Theatre has recognised that what we like is a drama which comes from a place with which we can resonate and contains lots of laughs, emotion, and triumph over adversity.
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice fulfils all the criteria and follows on from the theatre’s success with Kes and Cooking With Elvis.
The show stands or falls on whether we are stunned at the singing and mimicry of Little Voice. The part was written by Jim Cartwright especially for Jane Horrocks clearly always a hard act to follow but what a voice Brigham has found in Rebecca Brierley.
This is her professional debut and first big role since drama school but as her director believes she has a golden career ahead of her and will never go hungry.
Little Voice is the story of a shy girl from a small Northern town who is tethered to a man-hungry, blousy tart for a mother.
The show’s heroine escapes by spending hours in her bedroom listening to the records left to her by her dead father and learning to imitate the singing of showbiz icons.
Her mother’s newest squeeze, the slithery snake Ray Say, played by Kevin McGowan hears her singing and realises at once that he’s in the presence of an extraordinary talent.
While fighting off her mother’s amorous advances he then struggles to lure the nervy teenager on to the stage at the club run by Mr Boo played by Ged McKenna and we watch as she overcomes the less-than-promising circumstances to make something of her life.
She is eventually helped to find her inner voice by a fellow solitary soul, the tongue-tied electrician Billy, played by Tom Meredith.
Playing the raucous mother Mari is Tracy Brabin, who has just played Carole in TV’s Emmerdale.
It is not an easy part to play as it could be over done but Tracy gives us just the right amount of sleaze and selfishness alongside the wisecracks and hilariously outrageous behaviour.
Sue Vincent’s superb portrayal of her amiable nextdoor neighbour Sadie was a triumph and together the two women produced one of the funniest scenes I have watched on stage for some time – The Jackson Five Dance Routine. Tears were rolling down our cheeks. It really does have to be seen to be appreciated.
We were promised an amazing set as a backdrop to the terrific performances and we were not disappointed. The numerous scene changes in the play result in the new revolving stage lurching repeatedly from the inside of the tiny terraced house to the street outside and on to the seedy club where LV sings.
The designer responsible for the extremely realistic set is Dawn Allsopp, musical director George Dyer, lighting is by Tim Skelly and sound by Ivan Stott. The drummer in the club scenes is Samuel Edwards. The rest of the backstage team is Kitty Walker, Kay Magson, Moby Renshaw, Surenee Chan Somchit, Beth Williams and Robert Day.
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice can be seen at Derby Theatre until November 22. Go to http://www.derbytheatre.co.uk for ticket details.