If ever there was a match made in heaven between performer and material, it is this one between perennial Melbourne entertainer Rhonda Burchmore and the smoky, jazz-infused world of Julie London.
Delivering hit after well-loved hit, Burchmore is in her element. Effortlessly switching between patter and song, Burchmore’s admiration and affection for the supremely talented London and her stellar career shine through.
Projected images add a dimension that was missing in 2011’s Doris Day: So Much More Than The Girl Next Door, all the more valuable given that much of London’s success happened some sixty years ago. A montage of album covers shows not only how time and taste have changed but just how prolific London’s recording career was.
While the narrative gives some insight into the life of one of Hollywood’s more private stars, it is unfortunate for the show that there was actually a distinct lack of action in London’s world away from the cameras and recording studios. The absence of dramatic tension is mostly covered by the quality of the music, but the running time of just over two hours is definitely a stretch. At least the separation into two acts means Burchmore has a chance to dazzle in two dazzling David Anderson gowns
Sterling musical support is provided by the ten-piece L.A. Combo, each given a solo moment to shine. The overall combination of singer and band is wonderful, all the more precious for its scarcity these days.
Beloved hits such as “Cry Me A River,” “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Blue Moon” are all there along with many, many more, with Burchmore successfully replicating London’s trademark smoky, sensual sound in each.
Given the nightclub sound and style, the show is thwarted somewhat by its conventional stage setting. The proscenium arch constricts the ambience and impedes genuine audience interaction.
Still, Burchmore is at home on any stage, and there is no diluting her intrinsic charm and flair.
This review written for the 19 August 2012 Sunday Herald Sun.