Joanne Jollie is well known on the cabaret circuit; she has wowed audiences in venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, Proud Cabaret, Pizza on the Park and Café Royale. On Sunday 23rd April, I was treated to an evening of fun and frolics watching her self-penned revue-show 50 Shades of Jollie at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec.
The show had previously played to sell-out audiences, although this special performance was her goodbye to England before jetting off to the sun, sea and sangria in the Balearic Islands.
The lights are dimmed, Jo walks to the stage, she is a vision in sparkles and sequins; buxom and beautiful she belts out her welcoming song, ‘Magic To Do’, from the musical Pippin.
Jo takes a ‘sip’ from her bottle of wine (yes, Jo has a bottle of white on stage with her, not a glass) and what follows is the musical equivalent of a veritable smorgasbord: songs from the musicals, (Witches of Eastwick, Chicago, Seesaw, Hairspray, When Midnight Strikes) parodies she has written (using her lyrics and matching them to songs of note), pop music (Rhianna, Craig David, Lady Gaga, Tina Turner, Avicii) comic ditties from the greats (Victoria Wood and Fascinating Aida) and what I’ve affectionately called “ The Tinder diaries”.
It doesn’t stop there though, there is a healthy amount of audience participation, Jo’s own special tribute to Beyonce, (and oh yes, Jo can move) a few songs from the Jazz and Blues eras and some great interludes where Jo regales stories from her life talking through the moment she was arrested aged 15 in her nightdress, to her stint picking melons as a “jobbing actor”.
Jo takes the audience on a journey in her celebratory and somewhat self-deprecating way; her genius wit and shameless humour showcase Jollie at her best. A powerhouse who sings, dances and tells a joke or five. A solid triple threat (as the industry like to say!).
I laughed A LOT in this show; an awful lot. At multiple points throughout the show, there were tears of happiness in my eyes. Jo has that special talent to take her audience on a journey with her – be it with a super high moment when she is singing her version of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best – Simply the Chest!, and changing the lyrics in Rhianna’s S&M song to ‘chains and whips frighten me and chips and wine excite me’ – to the moment when she takes the lights and tempo down and sings ‘I Never Learned to Type’ (From When Midnight Strikes) and almost has a tear in her eye.
Jo is accompanied throughout the show by A Girl Called Fred, her pianist and Musical Director for the show. They are the perfect partnering of female solidarity framing the performance.
In all honesty, Jo is more M&S than S&M! In her own words, S&M to her is Sausage and Mash or Spaghetti and Meatballs. However, one thing Joanne is not is boring. This woman is a scream, she is hugely talented and it is clear that she performs for her audiences enjoyment. She is a vocal Powerhouse; in her words the alternate Tenor Lady!
It’s a shame this show has come to its end in London – but if you’re holidaying in Ibiza I’m sure you will catch Jo Jollie singing her heart out in some resort in the way that only she can. Jo is a 5-star cabaret performer, If you can catch Jo, you won’t be disappointed.
Review by Faye Stockley