GIG REVIEW: Marisha Wallace via Leave A Light On

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHERE? Livestreaming via Leave A Light On courtesy the Theatre Cafe

WHEN: 4/4/20

‘You will be OK, you will get through this – stay positive.’ Wallace, star of Dreamgirls and Waitress, is drawing on her own personal experience to give hope during the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Read on for reasons including how to see Wallace next in the West End in Hairspray

The story at the heart of this 45-minute set is that when a young Wallace was auditioning for a school place she was told by her professor that there was a problem with her voice, later diagnosed as a cyst on vocal chord.

She was warned that she may never sing again but after an operation she was able to. She says: ‘I believe in the power of a positive mental attitude. Twelve years later I’ve gone on to sing some of our hardest roles – I sang Effie in Dreamgirls for two years – the hardest role there is. You will be OK, you will get through this – stay positive.’

Wallace has a loud and proud soul gospel voice and it’s a match for her larger-than-life personality. To taped applause, she exclaims: ‘Welcome to the Marisha Wallace show. Here I am, live and in your living room.’

She’s dancing along to an ambitious range of upbeat disco classics including I Will Survive and I’m Every Woman and at one point she goes quiet, gestures at the camera saying: ‘You sing it, … sounds good.’

 

There’s a Hairspray poster in the background in her living room as she performs this gig and that reminds that a production starring Michael Ball and Paul Merton has been rescheduled for the London Coliseum starting on 1 September. Tickets

There’s even a costume change and we’re only able to watch this gig because it was delayed but as we’ve noted before there’s a resilience in Wallace: ‘We’ve had some technical difficulties but look at us, we’re back.’

Screen Shot 2020-04-09 at 20.41.52

The set draws on the songs of two of her heroines – Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston – and the reason why you so rarely hear versions of songs like How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance With Somebody is because it is so difficult to beat the originals but it is a challenge of which Wallace is unafraid.

A version of Prince’s Purple Rain is a personal highlight and this gig is so good we can’t wait to see Wallace treading the boards in the West End again.

  • Picture courtesy Lambert Jackson Productions. Tickets
  • Have you seen this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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