Tuesday, January 25

Julie Madly Deeply – Park Theatre

Dame Julie Andrews is one of the few genuine British theatre icons, beloved by millions the world over, and with a career spanning seven decades. One of those fans – a mega-fan in fact – is Sarah-Louise Young, who in this funny, affectionate and joyful tribute celebrates the life and work of the woman everyone knows as Mary Poppins or Maria von Trapp.  Young may have written a fan letter to Andrews when she was a child, but she avoids simply gushing about the highs of Julie Andrews’ career, also presenting the other side of her life, the failed marriage, the casting of Audrey Hepburn in the film of My Fair Lady despite Andrews’ stage triumph in the role, the 15-year low point and lack of work after her topless appearance in second husband Blake Edwards’ movie, S.O.B., the devastating loss of her four-octave singing voice due to an operation in 1997 to remove nodules on her vocal chords. There’s much triumph too, of course, and with recent voice performances in Shrek and as Lady Whistledown in the huge Netflix hit, Bridgerton, she has come to the attention of a new audience.

It’s Young’s voice that makes this show. Her beautiful soprano soars in well-worn classics from The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins. And her presentation of Could I Leave You from Follies is sublime and given extra poignancy after Sondheim’s recent death. The anecdotes provide a fascinating insight into Andrews’ life, but also into Young’s devotion to Andrews, which resulted in her developing this cabaret-style performance which has been thrilling audiences around the world for several years, including a sold-out off-Broadway run in 2019.  Bringing in a plethora of other characters, from the music teacher who guided Julie Andrews’ early singing training, to Audrey Hepburn and Oscar Hammerstein, Young also demonstrates a fine comic timing and wonderful impersonation skills. Her Liza Minnelli is hilariously on point. And at times she appears to embody the spirit of Andrews herself.

The fine keyboard playing and interjections of Michael Roulston keep the show on track. Young’s digressions to chat to audience members, many of whom are also massive Julie Andrews’ fans, create a shared experience that goes beyond the performance itself, as they recount seeing Andrews live at the O2 in 2010 or enjoying a Singalong Sound of Music show. Leading, of course, to the inevitable final Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious singalong.

This is a show made entirely of love. If raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens are your thing, or you just need an injection of pure joy, this is an evening to lift everyone’s spirits.

Julie Madly Deeply is at the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, until Saturday, 1st January.  Tickets are on sale from: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/julie-madly-deeply

Reviewer:  Carole Gordon

Reviewed: 20th December 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★