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The Theatreguide.London Review

Debbie Reynolds - Alive and Fabulous
Apollo Theatre       Spring 2010

As she would admit, Debbie Reynolds was never a major talent. She sang OK, danced OK, acted OK and was cute.

And that was more than enough to generate a career in movie musicals (most notably Singin' In The Rain) and romantic comedies in the 1950s and an on-and-off nightclub act since then.

Now admitting to 78, she doesn't dance much, but still sings OK and reminisces OK, and that's all her fans really ask of her.

In what is essentially her night club act, she opens with the obligatory Sondheim 'I'm Still Here,' not sung very well (Her enunciation can be muddy and her mike technique wavers).

But her later singing is much better - a nicely swinging 'From This Moment On' and smooth and evocative 1940s and Judy Garland medleys, demonstrating a real flair as a jazz-flavoured stylist.

A particularly enjoyable sequence has her running clips from some of her movie musicals and singing along with her younger self.

We could happily have had more of that, perhaps in place of the strained imitations of Gary Cooper, Katherine Hepburn, Mae West and others (though the Barry Fitzgerald and especially the wicked Barbra Streisand are delightful).

In between, she jokes about the age of her fans ('Anyone here under 50? Who brought you?'), about her gay following, about some younger people knowing her only as Princess Leia's mother and others as a frequent guest on Will and Grace, and, for those who remember 50-year-old scandals, about Eddie Fisher and Liz Taylor.

She's supported by a drummer and pianist, both of whom have been with her for decades, the latter doubling as prompter when she loses her place in the script or forgets a name.

The show runs just over an hour, plus interval and some filler material, which may leave her fans wanting more, but what they get is exactly what they would ask, so there should be little disappointment.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of Debbie Reynolds, Alive And Fabulous - Apollo  Theatre 2010