Sophie Tucker's One Night Stand

Chris Burgess
New End Theatre
(2005)

This performance was a journey down memory lane for many of the audience.

Sophie Tucker's life story is unravelled by Sue Kelvin who strings together some of Tucker's hits with the narration of her biography.

This is the story of a determined and single-minded, morbidly obese singer, who was popularly considered ugly. She started her singing career at her parents' Kosher restaurant at an early age, eloped and then gave birth at the tender age of 16. She was divorced by 18, leaving her baby son with her parents to pursue her singing career.

Her size and lack of looks were dwarfed by her ambition, downright obstinacy and belief in her ability to make it big (sorry!).

On the night I saw the play, her co-star Russell Churney was taken ill and was substituted by a young pianist who had only an hour and half to rehearse. I was later informed by members of the audience who had already attended the show and had returned for second helpings that the production was not hindered or in any way diminished by Russell's absence.

Sophie Tucker may well inspire those who fail to fit into the conventional mould of today's successful singers, who invest more time and money in preserving their svelte figures than in their often-dormant musical talent.

Tucker's hit songs such as 'I don't want to be thin', 'The One I Love', 'Mr. Siegal' and 'My Yiddeshe Mama' prompted the delightful 89-year-old lady sitting next to me, into quietly joining in.

The overall atmosphere was fun. The songs triggered fond memories in the mature members of audience who left the theatre feeling warm with nostalgia.

Runs until 14th January

Reviewer: Rivka Jacobson