If the name Julie Andrews is not synonymous with childhood or if she has not become a regular Christmas guest in your household, then you have been deprived of a joyous experience in your upbringing. The royally-recognised national treasure has a career spanning almost seven decades, has been inundated with numerous awards and is one of the greatest voices to emerge from this country.
And it is clear that the sublime vocals and maternal warmth of the Dame embedded her in the soul of Sarah-Louise Young more so than most. And after giving Young so much, (Andrews’ husband Garner praising her generosity ‘She does not give to everybody past a certain line, but she gives to everybody up to that line’), Julie Madly Deeply is Sarah-Lou’s homage to the legend. But how do you solve celebrate a problem legend like Maria Julie Andrews?
Reading a letter from her infancy asking Andrews to marry her father, it is clear from the outset that this is not going to be an ordinary biographic reading. A delightfully eclectic mix of classic Andrews numbers, situational acting and colourful narration, Julie Madly Deeply surpasses all expectations one had beforehand. In fact, the slight reservations as to whether such a cabaret show might be somewhat premature completely evaporate some ten minutes in.
The capabilities of Young could quite easily have been overlooked portraying such a persona, yet numerous times throughout the performance her talent thrust itself upon the audience and left them awestruck. From brilliantly belting out classics from ‘Feed the Birds’ to ‘Le Jazz Hot’, to offering a window into Andrews’ early life under the tutelage of Madame Lilian Stiles-Allen and performing in her first Broadway production ‘The Boy Friend’, Young marvellously engrosses her audience and creates super-fans of the most tepid of its members.
As with most cabarets, it is the asides and one-liners that elevate the performance. Such one-liners (offered with a self-acknowledged limited array of accents) left the audience in fits of laughter; from asking a member of the public their opinion of Andrews’ move from the radio to America only for them to ponder what they would listen to whilst doing their dishes: ‘all t’workin’ class people do is t’dishes’ to thanking Dick Van Dyke in her Academy Award acceptance speech: ‘Dick Dick Dick Dick wonderful Dick.’ Yet, more so than all other characters offered on stage it was her portrayal of the attention-hungry Liza that garnered the biggest roars; having to physically escort her off stage early in the first act – ‘She gets into every show she can’ – only for her voice to crop up unintentionally again in an unrelated character, before she was ‘welcomed’ back by Andrews to take on the titular in Victor/Victoria.
Young’s ability to effortlessly flow between these characters drew to mind comparisons with Little Voice, such one-woman-umpteen-character narration never permitting any confusion and so seamlessly implemented that the audience were fully aware as to whom they were watching.
For most across the world, Julie Andrews holds a part of our heart; whether it is a weighty portion or just a nostalgic twinge is irrelevant to one’s enjoyment of Young’s Julie Madly Deeply. A self-professed full time Julie Andrews fan, she has created an absolute delight in celebrating her idol, and invites us with open arms (quite literally, arms a-spread spinning around the stage akin to Maria) to pool our own love of the star so as to further elevate the experience. A glorious cabaret; lovingly and shrewdly created and magnificently executed it is near impossible to leave without a smile on your face and a song in your heart.
Four and a half stars.
Headline Image: Steve Ullathorne