WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE?: Southwark Playhouse RUNTIME: 90 minutes (no interval)
WHEN?: Monday 17 May 2021, press night 20 May 2021, runs to 12 June 2021
It’s the 1st night that theatres can reopen since the 2nd lockdown closed stages in December and before the show we are asked to keep masks on (unless we’re eating or drinking), there are Perspex screens between groups in the audience and we are advised to not give a standing ovation at the end but to clap loudly.
- Read on for reasons including where you might have seen Wendi Peters before and which of the show’s songs are its stand-outs
You Are Here is the UK premiere of a musical about a Chicago housewife called Diane played by Peters who on the night of the Moon landing on 20 July 1969 is inspired to walk out of the home she shared with her husband and to seek a new life.
Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ is enough to propel Diana to stay in a hotel, befriend a maid who works there and spend time with a homeless Vietnam veteran who is troubled by his time spent in the military and introduces the housewife to marijuana.
The standout song in the show is Everyone Dances where the strength of Neil Bartram’s musical and lyrics really convinces as we’re promised a hit from maid Ruby’s impressive collection as she plays records for Diane while preparing a meal for her and the building’s superintendent played by Phil Adèle drops by to dance with the women.
It’s a moment of joy in a contemplative show as Diane ponders the life she had and wonders whether she settled for too little.
Final song Sea Of Tranquility is a showstopper and caps a fine performance by Peters who sings beautifully and engages wonderfully as a woman tipped over the edge wondering if her happy yet unremarkable life could have been better.
Jordan Frazier brings a steely quality to the supportive maid and Phil Adèle and Rebecca McKinnis are a fine ensemble bringing vividly to life a range of characters as Diane goes rogue from husband Gerrard.
Director Matthew Rankcom has cast this intelligently and the set is minimal yet evokes the moon as well as a range of different settings for Diane’s journey.
We once saw Peters up the road in the Menier in the audience for Sheridan Smith’s Funny Girl, of course she is best known for her role in TV’s Coronation Street but we also saw her in Big – The Musical at the Dominion. We said then that Peters ‘proves what an outstanding musical theatre actress she is’ and, although she’s perhaps best known for character parts, You Are Here proves what an accomplished leading lady she can also be.