Five-time Olivier Award-nominated chanteuse Ruthie Henshall has sold out the West End and Broadway, often as a femme fatale, such as Roxie in Chicago; her showcase within the Famous Spiegltent, then, was intimate in more ways than one.
Towards the end of London-born musical theatre star Ruthie Henshall’s reflective set of showtunes and pop classics, she pondered how her life would have turned out were she not lucky enough to pursue the dream that she had dreamed since childhood; to make a career performing on stage.
This segued into her purring seductively the names of train stations in an uproarious ‘The Siren Song’, where a failed man-catcher channels her sexual frustrations into her work as a tube announcer, before proclaiming that her masculine victims were “victims of her golden voice”.
Fortunately for theatre lovers and unfortunately for commuters, Ruthie has spent almost 30 years arousing and evoking emotions with her golden voice; a voice that, although it summoned tears to watchers’ eyes at times, did not render us victims, but rather grateful recipients.
Ruthie seamlessly travailed the full gamut of her career, drifting between comedic mirth and emotional heft.
Her rendition of comedienne Victoria Wood’s ode to middle-aged marital celibacy, ‘The Ballad Of Barry And Freda’, like ‘The Siren Song’, induced fits of laughter, while her courageous truth-telling about the impact of her divorce on her teenage daughters on ‘So Big/So Small’ was an unexpected highlight, surpassing even her famed renditions of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ and the assorted tunes from ‘Chicago’.
Accompanied by the impeccable Paul Schofield on the piano, and despite her declaration that Sara Bareilles’ describes her perfectly with her lyrics, ‘she’s imperfect but she tries’ on ‘She Used To Be Mine’, there was no imperfection to be found in Ruthie on this night.