Review: Bourbon St to Broadway
If coming out midweek to see an intimate cabaret show is not normally your cup of tea, you might just change your mind when it comes to Britni Leslie. Her one woman show, Bourbon St to Broadway, dazzles with the same vibrance and energy as a Saturday night pop concert, and you will soon forget it’s one woman singing to a tiny audience on a closet-sized stage.
The show is about Britni Leslie’s life as a performer and her decision to move to Melbourne, Australia, all the way from Mobile, Alabama. Accompanied by Tim Verdon on keys, Britni, incorporates a repertoire of Broadway’s greatest hits into her story in a seamless nature only a true performer could achieve.
Britni’s performance is infectiously joyful as she takes the audience on her unique but not unrelatable journey. Her tales of being a precocious child who always wanted to sing and dance will ring true for many an aspiring performer – and everyone will relate to her trials and tribulations of trying to make it in the adult world where nothing is certain.
It was particularly poignant to hear of her transformation from bratty child, to a Disney park fur character, to a nanny, and suddenly having to deal with all manner of bratty children. Britni made excellent use here of songs like Little Girls from Annie and Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl while describing having to clean up children’s poop from the floor and other hijinks.
Her love of Disney is evident in her adaptations of songs from The Little Mermaid, a character she played at Disneyworld for many years, and a charming, but not-safe-for-work, mash up of princess songs. The audience were enthralled in her tales of working in hot, sweaty costumes while making sure little kids didn’t grab her seashells.
It’s not all singing animals and cheery whistling though – the show surprises with some serious depth in the second half. Britni’s determination shone through as she sung the audience through her constant audition rejections and infuriating neighbours. Although it was played for laughs, it was easy to empathise with her and feel the relief she must be feeling right now as a successful singer. It was truly uplifting to get to the part of her story where she actually got cast and started making it in New York.
Then when the story content got a little darker, Britni handled the shift deftly and gave us a glimpse into some truly raw emotion. She wasn’t afraid to tell her story truthfully and open the proverbial vein to the audience. I felt truly captivated by her one-of-a-kind voice, whether she was singing a ballad or an upbeat comedy number.
Comedic relief was soon provided again in a hilarious audience participation exercise in which a man was selected to be serenaded. This man was so enthusiastic about the whole thing it was hard to tell whether he was a plant or not. Britni proved just how funny she could be and never once dropped a beat when the audience threw her curveballs.
The crowd pleasing songs came in bundles of Popular and Over the Rainbow, and were only really let down in quality by the inclusion of some songs from the La La Land soundtrack, which were no match for the Broadway masters.
All in all Bourbon St to Broadway was fantastic storytelling fronted by a supremely confident performer who absolutely lit up the room. It’s a show that may benefit far more by being performed in a jazz club with a grand piano so that perhaps Britnie Leslie would be less static on a tiny stage and could mingle with her crowd a bit more.
I left wanting to know more about her adventures and anticipating another show with the next chapter in her life.
By Silvi Vann-Wall.
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