Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Liberace Live From Heaven

Written and Directed by Julian Woolford
Leicester Square Theatre
(2009)

Publicity photo

Bobby Crush is Liberace, a decedent performer who has died from Aids and finds himself in a sort of musical limbo, while a group of heavenly angels (who are played by us, the audience) decide his fate more particularly whether he should go to heaven or hell.

Liberace Live From Heaven is camper than a camp site. Bobby Crush with his horrendous American accent aims to entertain with stories of performances at the Hollywood Bowl and mingling with the stars whilst showing off on his piano playing skills to prove why he was the greatest pianist of his team.

While sharing these stories he is interrupted by the voices of God and St Paul, played respectfully (and quite astonishingly) by Stephen Fry and Victoria Wood. These voices provide a vehicle for them to clumsily debate issues such as closeted homosexuality and the contraction of HIV.

As if that isn't awkward enough, topical gags involving the recently deceased Michael Jackson and Jade Goody are also woven into the act alongside "Carry On" moments where one member of the audience assists Liberace with a costume change while the remainder are left listening to shrieks of "oh aren't you a big boy" and "oh it's not going to fit".

The one thing that saves this performance from sinking completely into a pit of inane nonsense is Crush's piano playing. If you can ignore the ridiculous expression on his face for a moment, Crush proves to be a skilled musician as he covers classical, boogie woogie and current pop songs and quite impressively at the end asks the audience to shout out songs they'd like to hear and manages to play every one of them.

It is Bobby Crush's musical performance that quite honestly saved Liberace from eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell, as the majority of the audience voted for him to go to heaven . Who knows, on another night he might not be quite so lucky.

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan