Ceri Dupree is undoubtably the finest female impersonator treading the boards today.
His sister Ria Jones is a singer of the highest quality whose West End credits include Fantine in Les Miserables, Grizabella in Cats and at 19 she was the youngest actress to play the role of Eva Peron in the National Tour tour of Evita.
Together they bring their new cabaret-style show Miss-Leading Ladies to the St James Studio theatre just behind Buckingham Palace in Victoria. It proved to be a wonderful experience and worth the trip from Brighton alone to hear Ria’s rendition of the Doris Day classic, Secret Love.
Many of Ceri’s most popular impersonations including Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Amy Winehouse and Camila Parker-Bowles are missing from this production with the focus being on the larger than life, glamourous stars of Broadway and the silver screen.
On press night Ceri’s impersonation of Mae West was on a different level to anything I have seen him produce before. Every movement, every nuance, every noise uttered and every facial expression were brilliantly delivered to an audience that were eating out of his hands right from the start of the show.
Vocally, Ria’s Julie Andrews was spot on, her interpretation of The man who got away, was spine tingling as was No Regrets and If you love me (Really love me), which brought the audience to their feet time and again, but when in Secret Love she opened up for “Now I shout it from the highest hills, Even told the golden daffodils, the audience collectively took a sharp intake of breath. It was a breathtaking moment in a memorable evenings entertainment.
Ceri took us through a range of her glamorous impersonations including Carol Channing, Mae West, Danny La Rue, Eartha Kitt and Marlena Dietrich complete with fabulous costume changes.
Whether he is singing or doing patter, Ceri’s comic timing is impeccable as he draws you into the wonderful world of his glamorous ladies. This is what a night out at the theatre should be about!
As a couple Ceri and Ria complement each other perfectly. They look good and vocally sound great when singing together. Their ensemble singing in I hear singing and there’s no one there was spot on as was their appearance together on stage as ‘stereo’ Ethel Mermans singing Everythings Coming Up Roses from Gypsy.
When Ceri returned to the stage dressed as a man to sing the finale Put your hand together there’s a lady on stage with Ria, It was a perfect close to a perfect evening.
All numbers were accompanied by live musicians, no backing tracks here. Edward Court made many fans from his position as musical director at the piano while Sally Peerless beautifully played her saxophone, flute and clarinet in most numbers.
The venue was a perfect choice for this type of show. The sound was top quality and the imaginative lighting design really did set the mood for each successive number.
Both my partner and myself left the theatre feeling privileged to have watched two quite extraordinary performers deliver two quite extraordinary performances both individually and together. My best night out at the theatre for some months.
To book tickets for the St James Studio, click here:
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