Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Oh, Rosie!

"She is a generous and rather camp performer, she has fun on stage and her enjoyment is infectious. Imagine a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Barbara Windsor, a soupçon of Jo Brand and an all pink ensemble and the picture is complete."
What’s On In London

I managed to secure - out of the blue! - tickets for something really special yesterday evening.

Miss Rosemary Ashe is a West End trouper of the first order. Her wealth of theatre roles include "Carlotta" in the original London run of Phantom of the Opera, "Madame Thenardier" in Les Misérables, The Witches of Eastwick (which we went to see in 2001), Mary Poppins, Oliver! and the concert version of Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel (which we went to see at the Royal Festival Hall in 2007).

We saw her most recently as "Lottie O'Grady" in the brilliant revival of JB Priestley's When We Are Married at the Garrick in January this year. [Read my blog about that show.]

Never having been to any Pizza Express cabarets before (their restaurant in Soho and the sadly now closed Pizza on the Park have hosted some fab - mainly jazz - artistes over the years), Russ, Joe, Paul and I weren't sure what to expect from the posh and historic Pheasantry (a venue in that erstwhile chain) in ever-so-swanky Chelsea. Do you have to eat? Is there a dress code? But as it turned out, it was fabulous (in a luxury cruise ship sort of way)...

And so was Miss Ashe!

Appearing as a guest in "The Sondheim Society presents" series, her repertoire needless to say included some of the great man's works, including house fave I Never Do Anything Twice, excerpts from Sweeney and other songs from the Sondheim catalogue - as well as the irreverent I'm Getting Sick of Sondheim. But Miss Ashe is more than just a Sondheimite - a comedienne as well as a trained opera singer, we were treated to fabulous arias (with a twist), jokes ("Did you know that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are getting together to write a new musical based on the life of Victoria Beckham? It's called Superstar? Jesus Christ!"),
Forbidden Broadway piss-takes, and a variety of beautifully rendered show-tunes (from productions as diverse as The Boy Friend, Candide, Gypsy, West Side Story and of course Witches of Eastwick) and lesser-known cabaret numbers including her own Killer Soprano.

The lady is a consummate professional, and has appeared at venues from West End to Broadway, Melbourne to Manchester, and two seasons on gay cruises ("What do you have if there are twenty gay men in a room? A musical. What do you have if there are twenty gay men and five lesbians in a room? A musical, with excellent stage production!"). she kept us enthralled and delighted for the whole of her excellent two-hour set - and Russ enjoyed it as his birthday celebration too! [As did the fabulosa Ann Reid, who was also in the audience.]

A brilliant evening's entertainment from a lovely lady in a lovely venue...

Here's Rosie appearing on one of those very cruises:

An interview with Rosie Ashe


  1. Sounds like a fab evening hun. Glad you had a great time. J-Jx

  2. It was superb! You missed a treat, sweetie... Jx

  3. what a fabulous evening and judging from the picture - you were dressed to impress dear - x


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