Writer: Sarah-Louise Young
Director: Russell Lucas
“No one can sing like Julie Andrews”, declares Sarah-Louise Young during her fabulous love letter to themusical legend. Of course, if we’re talking about the Practically Perfect warbling nanny or the multi-octave Victor/Victoriaperformer then not even Dame Julie can sing like Julie Andrews. Devastating throat surgery damage made sure of that.
However, if Julie Madly Deeply has a message, it’s surely that it doesn’t matter who can or can’t sing like the superstar. Why? Because, no matter what, we’ve all been touched by the magic of Andrews. A magic brought stunningly, beautifully and powerfully to life by Young.
This one-act version of Julie Madly Deeply arrived in Liverpool on the closing day of the city’s theatre festival, nearly a decade after it was first premiered in Edinburgh. The show has now toured across the UK and beyond. A longer, two-act performance has even delighted audiences in the West End and off-Broadway. It still feels fresh and dynamic.
The tribute may be the brainchild of West End star, Young, but this is very much a collaboration with composer Michael Roulston. With direction from Russell Lucas, the pair are a delightful double act taking the audience through the life and music of the girl from Surrey who took Hollywood by storm.
This is not an impersonation. Young effortlessly slips in and out of character as Julie but also a host of people from her life and career. From Andrews’ first singing teacher to a persistent Liza Minelli. This is first-rate acting. Young’s transformations of voice and physicality are extraordinary.
Ultimately, of course, a show about Andrews lives and dies on the music. Roulston’s playing and Young’s singing are a match made in heaven. However, the renditions are much more than just cover versions. Each number cleverly explores an event or theme or idea. That being said, members of the audience visibly wept during a hauntingly perfect performance of Feed The Birds.
This show is as much about that audience as it is about the star. The fourth wall is broken at numerous points as stories and experiences are shared. Young’s ad-libs with the crowd are sublime.
Julie Madly Deeply came about after the press claimed Andrews’ fans were left feeling “cheated” by the singer’s comeback show. No one could possibly feel cheated with Young’s reaction to that claim. This is an insightful and fascinating biography, plus so much more. A joy from start to finish.
Reviewed on 11 September 2022