[Published in The Age, August 18 2012]
RHONDA Burchmore’s latest cabaret revue takes on 1950s siren Julie London, here portrayed as a star that time forgot: an old-world glamour girl edged out of the game by the swinging sixties and its changing definition of cool.
This is a fitting story for Burchmore’s glitzy approach to entertainment. Now 52, the leggy chanteuse’s no-biz-like-showbiz persona may seem like an anachronism that’s fading along with its proponents.
Backed by an all-male orchestra, Burchmore interweaves London’s songbook with a rudimentary narrative of her life. The show canvasses her slow rise to fame, her two marriages, the death of her daughter and her filmography, starring alongside such leading men as Gary Cooper, Robert Mitchum and Rock Hudson; she made more than 30 albums before her career petered out in the late 1960s.
Burchmore takes us through classics such as Cry Me a River, Blue Moon, Daddy and Saturday Night (is the Loneliest Night of the Week). While her voice wavers at times, the slower numbers are where she really twinkles, notably Blues in the Night.
Epitomising the duality expected of the modern woman, London’s star image swung between sultry pin-up and retiring housewife. But there is nothing retiring about Rhonda: with sequined gowns split to the thighs, jokes about her pins and banter laden with playfully crass innuendo.
Burchmore might exit the stage saying ”it’s all over, my friend”, but if her fans’ standing ovation is anything to go by there’s still very much a place for her brand of razzle-dazzle.
Cry Me a River: The World of Julie London will be performed at the Comedy Theatre, until August 19.