- Latest Reviews
- Creative Projects
Written and Performed by Ty Jeffries
Music and Lyrics by Ty Jeffries
The Drill Hall 2
16 Mar - 9 Apr 2011
In my review of Ty Jeffries’ last award winning production (Best Stage Show 2010 – So So Gay and Time Out – Critic’s Choice) featuring his 39 and holding American casino longue singer alter ego – Miss Hope Springs (Miss Hope Springs….recovering showgirl) at the Drill Hall 2 in Nov., I referred to him as a phenomena waiting to happen. I'm now rephrasing that to a phenomena awaiting more well-deserved recognition. The fact that Ty Jeffries still remains relatively unknown is not his fault, au contraire - it is yours, if you’ve not yet offered this talented artist your support.
Having now heard two shows worth of Jeffries’ self-composed songs I’ve surmised that he seemingly, cannot write a bad one. While all numbers may not be equal, each has something to recommend it, not least of all because Jeffries always knows what he is trying to say and hopes his listeners will respond to it, hope being the operative word. Some of Jeffries’ songs are plaintive, others cheery, most a little of each, while still others are downright fun, and meant to be so. To simply dub Jeffries a cabaret performer would be inaccurate, for he is an actor, singer, composer and pianist par excellence, and all of his variegated talents are in evidence here, as he performs, sans band, accompanying himself on piano with, as Fats Waller would say, some pretty ‘fractious fingering.’ No offense to those accompanying him on his last show, but Jeffries doesn’t really need a band, though their absence places more pressure on his piano playing Hope, who expertly kicks her trailing gown before sitting, drolly disengaging a shoulder length ‘diamond’ earring from her wrap.
This all new episode of Miss Hope Springs misadventures takes us to Paris, where, we are lead to believe, she has resided for some time, living rather breathlessly through a love affair with a five foot one Alain Delon look alike she’s met by the bins at the back of the trumped up dump she’s singing in. Ah, there’s the rub, and we’re mislead at a merry pace, as she dodges an off-beat neighbour living next to her Winnebago, strolls along the moonlit Seine, sighs over Paris roof-tops and fights the green eyed monster on her winding way to that all important Super Saver Monday Eurostar return.
The sounds of a steamer, seagulls and tinkling piano greets us as the lights go down and a spotlight picks out Miss Hope, resplendent in floor length sparkling black gown, feather trimmed wrap and ooh la la blonde hair teased a la vintage Streisand meets Vidal Sassoon. This entrance is very dramatic, as Jeffries literally becomes Hope, but it becomes riotously funny when Hope reveals in a knowing aside that she actually, travelled to Paris on Eurostar. Nonetheless, ‘A Place Called Home’, synonymously poignant and light-hearted, makes a lovely opener, made all the more human by its singers imperfections, and the paradoxes of life reflected in its’ lyrics - something of a signature for Jeffries and his loveably flawed Miss Springs. This succinctly worded, gently touching song, offset by Hope’s philosophically wry humour sets the tone for what is to come.
Once again Jeffries, as Hope, is in acting storyteller mode supreme, cluing us in on his character’s endlessly hopeful quest for love,(while wondering aloud if she’s past it), as fictitious men make passes, and laughs tinged with heartache surprise. In many ways, his Hope is incorrigible, yet it’s impossible not to take her to your heart. This is Jeffries’ most magical gift - his ability to reflect on something inherent to all of us through his world-weary, yet never defeated Miss Hope Springs.
No show featuring Jeffries’ Miss Springs would be true to itself if it didn’t mention Rusty, Hope’s late mother, who left a glittering bag full of tattered truisms for her daughter. Having reviewed Liza Minnelli at London Coliseum a couple of years ago, where she looked up, as though communicating with her mother, Judy Garland, the scenario rings true, made all the more touching by the fact that Hope, like her mother before her, never made it ‘big.’ Rusty’s legacy is shared here through, ‘Live, Laugh, Love,’ which gives her something to fall back on when her latest Don Juan shows his spots.
Attempting to cite one or two songs in this show is a bit like a chocoholic trying to choose one truffle from a white through dark myriad of frilly-boxed options, but I’ll try to savour my way through them. ‘Pigalle’ about the typically sow’s purse club Hope sings (and plays piano in) in Paris is sprightly and upbeat, considering its’ tawdry setting, but, as ever, ironically so. ‘Rooftops of Parre’ is conversely, dreamy and charming, and, personally ironic to me, as the lone time I was in Paris, some years ago, I too sighed at same from a garret room window. ‘I Believe in Us’ strikes me as a much better wedding song than Heatwave’s 70’s hit ‘Always and Forever’ because it’s pretty, but much more realistic. ‘Jean Jacques’ (I’m going to have to kill you now) says everything you always wanted to say to your no good ex through a comic blend of Bossa Nova meets Sweeney Todd. ‘Satan in Satin’ made me think of Fats Waller, whose songs were the first I learned the words to, (thanks to my late Dad) with a warped twist from a love torn heart. ‘When Your Man is Gone’ is torched and charred blues, a genre Hope/Jeffries always handles with great feeling and style. There were no lions in sight when Hope sang’ ‘Youth (is wasted on the young)’ but nevertheless, I thought of Bert Larh (the original Cowardly Lion) when I heard it, possibly because ‘If I Were King of the Forest’ (from 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz) expresses some of the same if I had my life to live over feeling. But as always, Jeffries’ canny lyrics hit home with his assessment of youth versus experience – yet another happy sounding song inspiring afterthought.
A medley of songs, (from Hope’s 1979 album, Everyone Wants to be Miss Hope Springs but I’m Sorry That Position’s Already been Filled) got off to a starry-eyed start with the wistful ‘Look Up’, moving onto beautifully surreal ‘Fairground’ with its’ comparison of love to a carousel, before coming to a comic crash landing with ultra PC ‘Beautiful People,’ a laughably hippie-esque anthem which might not seem out of place at the Con-Dem 2012 Games, if seen through their Euro-vision lens.
What better way to wind down from all that Superbowl-esque hype than a reprisal of ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ with its’ common sense,’ who needs a no good louse’ ethics? ‘These are the Good Old Days’ (much wittier and more enduring than the Carly Simon song – later used in a ketchup ad on U.S. TV), brings this life’s been mucky, but I’m still happy – go – lucky show to a resounding close, as Hope takes her bows in the basement room of Drill Hall 2, ostensibly underground, but ever, above it all.
The songs in this show, like (yet unlike) its’ predecessor, are an impressively diverse mixture of pastiche homages to Fats Waller, Noel Coward, ’60’s girl group ‘death disc’ singers, torch songs of every description, the Weimer period and nearly anything you could imagine, from many eras, never losing sight of Jeffries’ seemingly inborn sense of cryptic glamour and wry, self-depreciating humour, which make for some concisely funny and ironic lyrics. And it all reeks of 1960’s perfumed hair, as Sinatra sang about it in ‘It Was a Very Good Year’ (1966), and frosted lipstick stardom. Add Jeffries uncanny ability to wring laughs from the stoniest of audiences on cue, (some seemingly, knowing all about ‘drag queens’ and thus, initially reluctant to let go, intermingled with a coolster or two, disinclined to smile at all but the most suggestive of jokes) seated among the fortunately open minded, who freely and frequently responded, and you’re as there as you’re ever going to be without springing for a ticket – so go now! Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8pm, until April 9th, come 8pm Ty Jeffries will be Miss Hope Springs, with her every look and nuance perfected to the point that all lines between the two are all but obliterated. Jeffries has also ‘done’ the formidable Joan Crawford and made Greta Garbo’s ‘lost’ screen-test, which, you’d nearly swear captured the essence of the real thing; loving both actresses, I was absolutely floored when I saw clips of both! I can hardly wait for the day Miss Hope, (hopefully), stages a show featuring all three of them….Do you read me Ty? I’m sure your fans would go ga-ga at the idea!
If you’re out walking in the spring sunshine, stopping for a drink come twilight near Goodge Street, just off Tottenham Court Road, you’re nearly there… But, then again, you could book tickets for the date of your choice right now for Miss Hope Springs: Je M'Appelle Hope on your I-phone, laptop or mobile from nearly anywhere, so what are you waiting for?
Like Hope’s Mom Rusty always said, ‘It’s not where you are, but where you’re at’, that counts.
Editor’s Note: It’s our considered opinion that the fantastic Miss Hope Springs would, undoubtedly, make a resounding splash across the pond. Canny US producers take note – a well promoted tour of some of America’s selected, most stellar underground venues (starting with an Off Broadway run) is de rigueur!
Wed-Sat | 8pm
16 Mar-9 Apr 2011
& Sun 3 Apr 2011 | 5pm
The Drill Hall
16 Chenoes Street
London WC1E 7EX
£10 | £8 concessions
Book now on:
By phone: 020 7307 5060
•Closed Sundays when no matinée performance - otherwise open 10am-6pm
Ty Jeffries will also be performing a one off show at The Cumbria in Camberwell
40 Kemerton Road Camberwell SE5 9AR
on Sun. Mar. 27th at 1pm
For tickets and more info see:
Read a brilliant article on Ty Jeffries and Miss Hope Springs here:
our review of Ty Jeffries in Miss Hope Springs…recovering showgirl
Copyright © EXTRA! EXTRA All rights reserved