From Judy to Bette: The Stars of Old Hollywood

05/08/19

Gilded Balloon Patter House (Doonstairs), Edinburgh

We last encountered Rebecca Perry back in 2015, when we saw her Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl. We enjoyed that show, but this latest offering – a celebration of four Old Hollywood greats – is an altogether grander and more ambitious affair.

The greats in question are Bette Davies, Judy Garland, Betty Hutton and Lucille Ball. Perry clearly idolises her chosen subjects and, through anecdote and song, reminds us why they still matter. It’s a compelling performance: her voice is powerful and her depictions engaging. She doesn’t exactly give us impersonations; instead, we get a flavour of each character, with a dash of old-style glamour thrown in. Perry’s admiration for the women shines through each and every song.

The venue is ideally suited to the piece, the architecture and décor both evoking the feel of an old cinema. The acoustics are good too, which matters a lot in a piece like this, where one showstopper after another is belted out across the auditorium.

If I have a criticism, it’s a very minor one. Because Perry introduces the women chronologically, the climactic emotional moment (her stunning rendition of Over the Rainbow) occurs somewhere around the mid-point of the show. I understand why she’s chosen to present the stories this way, but it does seem a shame not to end on that poignant note.

No matter, From Judy to Bette is a mighty fine show, and well worth going to see.

4.3 stars

Susan Singfield

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