In 1995 Julie Andrews recreated her 1980’s film role as the woman, pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman – in the stunning musical Victor/Victoria.
It was her husband Blake Edwards’ first foray into stage direction and ironically and sadly her last starring role. In 1997- the year I saw her perform it – her voice failed and the result was she never sang again.
So it’s great that you can now watch her starry performance on stage in this version put on film in 1995. She introduces the show and talks to us again in the interval and she was clearly having the time of her life in the production, which she describes as “ full of love and laughter “
The dream team of Henry Mancini and Lesley Bricusse created the musical along with Edwards, and it shows in the lush melodies and clever lyrics which it boasts.
It also has more Broadway royalty in the form of the wonderful Tony Roberts, who as Toddy, is a gay cabaret performer and Ms Andrews guide through the chicanes of the plot. While not as such a “ gay musical “ it has Toddy, plus a very hunky bodyguard and an unassuming gangster all in gay roles and it certainly preaches equality and tolerance.
Indeed central to the plot is the growing love between gangster King Marchand, played heroically by Michael Nouri , and Andrews ‘ character as the phoney Polish Count Victor. Tellingly Marchand declares that though he has suspicions about the sexuality of Victor, he’ ll still love “ her “ if she is a “ he “.
Of course he’s saved the embarrassment as, I’m assuming, are the largely heterosexual audience, who are strangely quiet at this gala performance.
That said, it has pleasing if not memorable songs , apart from Le Jazz Hot Baby, and it boasts some energetic dance routines, and comic relief in the form of mobster’s dumb blonde Norma Cassidy played with great , gutsy glee by Rachel York, who comes into her own in a sub-machine gun song and dance number Chicago Illinois.
In the end it’ s a pink candy floss of a show and nothing wrong with that as a bit of a diversion from lockdown lunacy.
Victor/Victoria is on YouTube and you can watch it here:
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