Review: Jane McDonald’s ‘Making Memories’ @ New Wimbledon Theatre

Jane McDonald promised an enthusiastic Wimbledon crowd a ‘rip-roaring night’ on the only London date of her ‘Making Memories’ tour – and she delivered.

Performing the title track from her forthcoming album of original songs in public for the first time was just one of the many highlights.

Having made her diva entrance – back-lit and surrounded by dry ice, she launched straight into her first number: With a Little Help From My Friends.

This set the tone for a two and a half hour show, her spotlight shared generously with backing vocalists and band members alike.

It’s hard to say what delighted more – faultless singing, or the saucy banter that portrayed more than a hint of Jane’s northern working men’s club roots.

And 18 years on, she is essentially still the same Jane – and we love her for it.

It has taken her this long though to have the confidence to include so many of her own songs in the show.

Her moving performance of I’ll Be There, inspired by her late father, brought an immediate hush over the audience.

The first half of the evening concluded with a powerful tribute to the late, great Cilla Black.

An extended medley took in full versions of Step Inside, Anyone Who Had a Heart and You’re My World.

After the interval came the first of three costume changes and a Bond medley comprising Writing’s on The Wall, Goldfinger, Skyfall, Diamonds are Forever, Licence to Kill and Live and Let Die.

Highlights of the night included The Rose, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Let’s Groove and Boogie Wonderland and The Hand That Leads Me, written for her mum.

After another costume change – and change of mood – came the first encore.

Memory from the musical Cats – Jane having played Grizabella to great acclaim in Blackpool last summer.

It was here that Jane truly demonstrated the full extent of her performing power, both as singer and interpreter of song.

Lord Lloyd-Webber please note: Her rendition hints at one of the finest Norma Desmond’s not yet seen.

The night ended with one final costume change and an up-tempo medley that had many of us out of our seats and dancing.

Image courtesy of Nicky Johnston, with thanks

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