Saturday, 10 April 2010

Debbie Reynolds Alive and Fabulous Assembly Hall Tunbridge Wells Review

Debbie Reynolds Alive and Fabulous 2010
Assembly Hall Theatre
Tunbridge Wells
10th April 2010

Well it's not every day you get to see and meet a true Hollywood Legend so this show had to be a must-see event. The Assembly Hall was very busy with an almost capacity attendance.

Debbie Reynolds Alive and Fabulous at Tunbridge WellsWhilst she did deliver the line in a jokey manner her statement that "you all probably thought ' better go and see the old girl before she dies'" does probably have an element of truth in it. Whilst she is very 'alive' and most definately 'fabulous' she is also an incredibly remarkable lady and knows this is more than likely the final UK tour she will be undertaking.

It's 35 years since Debbie was last in the UK and she does not try to gloss over the fact she is a sprightly 78 years old. Lets face facts though she says her love of the stage means she will more than likely die on it. Even if this is the case if she leaves it another 35 years for a return she'll be 113 years of age.... not very likely then is it that we'll see a return?

Incidentally what you see in these pictures is what you get (as I took the pictures). That's how absolutely fantastic Debbie Reynolds looks approaching 80 years of age. And no I haven't airbrushed or enhanced her in any way. She did point out how great her legs are and to be honest there are probably women 30 years younger who would like to have her pins.

Anyway how did the mother of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia in Star Wars) do on the night?

Really great actually. I have to admit I had visions of this being really boring. The idea of an actress talking about and over clips from her greatest movies could easily be a brain numbing disaster.

However it is nothing of the sort. I hate to keep referring to her age but for 78 years old she could give a performer 20 years younger a run for their money.

Debbie Reynolds looking incredible at 78 years of ageHer recollections of experiences with so many famous names are engrossing. Cary Grant, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Spencer Tracy, Eddie Fisher to name but a few. This is an honest account of her life and she bitches about as many people as she praises yet keeping the whole experience very humorous.

Vocally she was incredible and her holding of very long notes was amazing. It was so impressive that after the show one lady said she must have had vocal  "help" back stage - but she didn't - being at the front you could easily tell it was Debbie's natural vocals.

There are some of the movie clips where she sings along to the action and the timing was spot-on. It was also nice to see an American superstar who had done a bit of research about the town and area she was in bringing local attractions into the entertaining banter with the audience.

She is accompanied on stage only by her drummer, Gerry Genuario,  who has now been with her around 35+ years and her piano/bass player , Joey Singer who has been with her more than two decades.

This amazing actress, star of everything from The Singin Nun and Singin' In The Rain to the more recent The Bodyguard put in a wonderful hour's performance taking us to the 20 minute interval.

In fact she joked ( at least we thought it was a joke) that the theatre staff had said we all HAD to have a break part way though.

Well up to this point I thought this was without doubt a 5 star show and I couldn't see it changing.

Debbie Reynolds still Americas SweetheartBut part 2 is a huge letdown. I won't spoil it but a video intro starts off the second section and it involves no input from Debbie Reynold's although it is an entertaining few minutes. There's then only about 15-20 minutes maximum of further singing and humour from Debbie before the show ends.

By anybody's standards this makes it a very short show for £30 a ticket. I can now see why the interval was joked about because it really isn't needed - it's a bit of a waste of time.

I think it's this value for money factor alone which saw only a very small minority of the Royal Tunbridge Wells audience giving a standing ovation.

What a great shame.

Even a decent support act in the first half followed by Debbie Reynold's full performance after the interval would have been better value. I think a lot of people left disappointed at this outcome.

Granted, for anybody who wanted an autograph or photo she did meet all those people at the stage door and she is as lovely to meet in person as she is on stage.

This tour ends with a short West End run at the Apollo. I wonder if the length of the show will be changed in any way as I think anybody commuting to London for a show of 1 hour 20 minutes may leave feeling very short-changed?

My verdict. A 4 star show as what there is is extremely good - it just needs to be 15-20 minutes longer at least.

In spite of this, and if you can afford to part with your cash, I've got to recommend it fully as it really is probably the final opportunity you will get to see this incredible star.

4 out of 5 for Debbie Reynolds Alive and Fabulous
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