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THE IMPOSTERS

 

A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 


Performed by Ty Jeffries

 

Out NOW on Luminere Records

 

The inimitable Miss Hope Springs strikes again! This recording of her second show, Je m’ appelle Hope,  beautifully performed by Hope’s talented creator, Ty Jeffries, will bring smiles to those who’ve seen this award winning show as well as those who haven’t, and have listeners from both camps singing along.

Ty Jeffries is a master songwriter, and in his feminine guise as Hope, he’s also a consummate performer with masterful acting, singing and musicianship, in his case on piano, and timing any comedian would envy. These attributes combined make for great nights out for those attending his shows and enjoyable listening here, as they did on the recording of his first show – Miss Hope Springs…recovering showgirl.

Miss Hope is essentially, a sadder but wiser type of gal of a ‘certain age’ who doesn’t let anything get her down – totally. If she ever wallows, it’s only momentarily, just long enough for her to regain her bearings and realize she’s only human, as she wouldn’t want her audiences to ever have anything but a good time. After all, it’s performing that eases her angst, and, strangely enough, ours too. Which, is one reason why we’re all so cheered when we leave Hope’s company even though we may have felt for her, and shared her pensiveness during her rare, but rich, reflective moments while we were together. It is this paradox, demonstrated through alternatively lovely, lively, comic, tragic, ridiculous and/or epic ballads and songs and Ty’s believable performance of them as Miss Hope that weaves his singular magic.

I’ve often referred to Ty Jeffries as a ‘one man musical’ when singing his praises to others, and Miss Hope Springs Je m’ appelle Hope is proof of that, as Ty is its’ sole actor, musician, singer and storyteller.

In Paris, American Hope engages in a love affair with shortish Alain Delon lookalike Jean Jacques, and sings and plays piano in ‘a seedy little nightclub’ in Pigalle - all in the course of one Eurostar break! During Hope’s jaunt we are privy to her interludes and interloping as she leaves her Winnebago by the Seine in search of true love, however transient.

Home may be where the heart is for some, but not for everyone, as ‘Never a Place Called Home’ bears out. It’s the perfect place to start, because its’ lyrics explain Hope’s wanderlust and longing for love. Its’ melody feels like the result of a collaboration between Michel Legrand and Hoagy Carmichael of ‘Stardust’ fame.  With lyrics speaking of the wandering inherent to Hope, we can’t help but think of the hope inherent to our wandering. There’s also a wistful, sentimental lilt to this number that put me in mind of WWII classics and ballads from shows like ‘Carousel’, but it’s never long in any of Ty’s songs before the scenery shifts ever so slightly, just enough to jog another set of memories and emotions…

‘Live, Laugh, Love’ (and be happy) is so typical of Hope’s philosophy, ‘If you wanna have rainbows, ya gotta have a little rain…’ The lyrics of this wryly upbeat song are so down to earth they’re bound to make you feel a bit more earthed yourself. Part of the laughter this number inspires comes from Hope’s up front French, kind of like my Queen’s English, me being of her persuasion. Whatever you do, ‘live, laugh, love and be happy – starting today!’

‘In a seedy little nightclub in Pigalle’ where you will find Hope, (and I can just picture her there), there are all sorts of characters, all seedy in their own way, some proud of it, though there is culture too, in the form of a ‘napkin with a drawing by Chagall’. But hey, any place where ‘the older gentlemen will always pay’ can’t be all bad! ‘If it’s good enough for Piaf, it’s good enough for me-af.’ Only Ty Jeffries (and possibly, Noel Coward) could have ever sung such a line that not only works, but gets a laugh too.

‘Rooftops of Paree’ is for the romantic in all of us. I’ve only been to Paris once, but I’ll never forget sighing over the rooftops there, as though I half expected to see a young Gene Kelley dancing over the horizon. Visionary phrases like ‘cotton wool clouds’ inspire instant mental imagery. As Hope sings, she’s ‘richer by far than he,’ (meaning Jean Jacques) as she’s ‘got the rooftops of Paree.’ Ty’s marvelous piano playing is in full stride here, adding gorgeously evocative texture to this treat of a song.

Ty’s ballads are more often than not, instantly seminal and ‘I Believe in Us’ has standard wedding songs like the overused Streisand hit ‘Evergreen’ beat, both in terms of melody and lyrics, as it’s much more realistic about love than its’ rosier counterpart(s) and, overflowing with character and emotion. ‘What happened to the trust? Baby, I don’t wanna leave, Cause I’ve got us.’ It’s a song anyone who’s ever been in a long term relationship can not only identify with, but treasure for it’s plain talking common sense. ‘It’s you and me, or bust. I don’t wanna leave, cause baby, I believe in us.’ David Soul, move over. ‘McArthur Park’ meets ‘The Shadow of Your Smile,’ with a generous smattering of Ty Jeffries’ amiable originality drizzled over the top, and lovingly structured dashes of realism underpinning it. Again, rapturous piano playing frames a fantastically realized vignette set to music and song.

Like any great showman, Ty knows when to turn the tide and ‘Jean-Jacques’ flips the coin to show us the less heady side of love, to great comic effect. ‘I’ll blame it on my sexual frustration… I’ll say I forgot to take my medication.’ In the City of Lights they understand crimes of passion, after all. Laughs abound, but as always, there’s a strange blending of synchronicity and sense in Ty’s most nonsensical songs, beefed up by his very animated piano playing, running merrily alongside his, in this case, hilarious lyrics.

‘Satin in Satin’ is a sassy parody of songs from big scale Broadway shows of the ‘30’s – Porter down the drain, Gershwin on the rocks. The gal in the song’s a beguiler, in this case, probably Hope’s rival for Jean-Jacques affections, dubious as they are. It is fun and fresh as always, given Ty’s comically poetic lyrics and teasing piano, strutting its’ fractious stuff. Recovering Showgirl had ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’, with its’ ‘Swinging 60’s’ connotations, and this humdinger of a collection serves up this frilly, but fanged dish.

A torch song to be reckoned with, ‘When Your Man is Gone’ in which Ty as Hope sings, ‘I need a little hope to hang my future on,’ could tug at the tightest of heart strings. As Hope runs the gamut of emotions, we are with her every turn of phrase, as her creator Ty doubly swings us through her moods via his piano, second fiddle only to her arching, ache-laden voice. It’s the pretending everything’s fine bit that put a lump in my throat when listening to this song, as Ty wrings notes of pure gold from his piano.

‘Youth’ is or soon is sure to be, the anthem of anyone who’s ever thought they might be past it, even for a minute. It’s also a testament to Ty’s lyrical diversity, as his words are just as effective, in their way, as those in his most affecting ballads could ever be. It’s the straight up truth in his lyrics that strikes at both your funny bone and more introverted, bittersweet sensibilities simultaneously. ‘It’s the bill that life presents you, it’s the price of all your fun.’ Just a couple of this song’s many telling lines, mimicking the tell tale ones on your forehead, be you he or she, or a bit of both.

No show of Hope’s would be complete without a medley of her greatest hits, of which she no doubt has many, and this collection features ‘Look Up/Down/Beautiful People’. The first number has a light bossa nova inflection, in keeping with the mid ‘60’s ‘Girl from Impanema’ era, though Hope’s hair is not as highly teased as Astrud Gilberto’s was. ‘Darlin’, won’t you please look up?’ presumably from your surf n turf at whatever soiree you’re hearing this song performed at. The second sweetly melancholy number, ‘Down’ reflects its’ writer’s fascination with a fairground ride, as a metaphor for love’s ups and downs. In some ways, it’s like a spin-off of Ty’s classic ‘Carnival’ from Miss Hope’s first CD, recovering showgirl. Laughably PC number, ‘Beautiful People’ sounds like something the doubly clueless Con-Dems might choose as the theme for the 2012 Olympic Games…ugh! Funny, and fun!

The shimmering crème de la crème of this collection, ‘These Are the Good Old Days’ floats along the top of this multi-layered parfait as the title song of Cabaret did above its score. It embodies Ty’s winning way with a ballad, as well as his flair for upbeat songs and witty but wise lyrics. In typically untypical Ty fashion, there is a cryptically droll Twilight Zone like melody line between some of the song’s verses. Here, we have the benefit of Ty’s succinct, savory lyrics to buoy us up to where we should be…’For these are the good old days, and once they’re gone they’re gone.’ You too will sing along with Hope, with hope in your heart.

Ty Jeffries’ many influences, musical, filmic and theatrical, some through first-hand experience, play a role in his songwriting; that’s something he’s never denied. But the way in which these songs are constructed and the love and hope inherent to the way they’re performed sets them apart, as Hope’s and, his.

Miss Hope Springs…recovering showgirl demonstrated Ty’s gift for writing unique and wonderfully memorable songs. Je m ‘ appelle Hope raises the bar higher still as it also showcases his special talent for being what I dubbed him at the outset, a one man musical - with rare and positively affecting talent. 

Lucky you! Ty Jeffries will be performing his award winning show - Je m ‘ appelle Hope as part of RVT’s Hot August Fringe next week on Wednesday and Thursday nights, August 17th and 18th. See you there!

Stay tuned for his West End run come February 2012…Can New York be far behind?

 

 

 

Ty Jeffries - the artist behind Miss Hope's artistry

 

Info and CDs here:

 


http://www.misshopesprings.com/
Tickets for Je m’ appelle Hope at RVT’s Hot August Fringe on Aug. 17th and 18th:
http://www.misshopesprings.com/#!__miss-hope-springs/upcoming-shows-2
http://hotaugustfringe.com/calendar/2011-08-17/
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, London SE11 5HY
Box Office: 020 7820 1222

 

 
 

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