Linda Purl: Up Jumped Spring

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Linda Purl

Up Jumped Spring

The Crazy Coqs, London, U.K, March 14, 2016

 Review by Fiona Coffey for Cabaret Scenes

Linda-Purl-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Linda Purl’s return to The Crazy Coqs after a two-year sojourn was greeted by Artistic Director Ruth Leon with a warmth and enthusiasm that seemed fully justified after the show’s opening medley. Purl is better known as an actress than a singer, better known in the U.S. than here in the U.K., but from the very first line of “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”/”A Lot of Livin’ to Do” it was clear that we were in for a vocal treat, in the company of someone whose stage presence is enormously appealing.
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Purl’s delivery is confident and declamatory in style, resonant of someone who has honed her craft on stage, rather than in a smoky jazz bar. But warm and husky undertones bring authenticity and intimacy to a voice that rings as clear as a bell and can swoop and soar and punctuate a storyline in the best showbiz tradition. She looks every inch the cabaret diva in her sequined white frock, yet there is a down-to-earth, almost soccer-mom quality about her that promises a compelling blend of glamour and approachability.

The song choices and patter that comprise Up Jumped Spring, Purl’s latest offering, are similarly uncomplicated. The set is largely comprised of familiar standards such as “Pick Yourself Up,” “My Foolish Heart” and “I Wish You Love,” delivered assuredly and well.

“It Amazes Me” was especially heartfelt and moving, but equally Purl excelled in the show’s only comic song, Christine Lavin’s “I’d Want to Be Lonely Again.
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” This made me want to see more of Purl’s playful side, in what was quite a ballad-heavy program. A duet with Crazy Coq’s Open Mic host Harold Sanditen was a welcome and enjoyable interlude, inventively combining “Let’s Eat Home” with “I’m Such a Hungry Man.” Geoff Eales provided sensitive accompaniment throughout, inside relatively conventional arrangements by Tedd Firth, and it was a pleasure to see more of his excellent musicianship on display in “Up Jumped Spring” and “If You Want the Rainbow (You Must Have the Rain).”

The chat alluded to Purl’s career in show business, but this was largely downplayed in favor of stories that your best friend might tell, on subjects ranging from washing drapes to a childhood family breakfast tradition. The opportunity to build a relationship with the audience through these stories was slightly lost, in that they did not add up to an overarching theme and did not always seem fully connected to the choice of songs.

An observation about aging and the habit of talking to yourself while alone in the house doesn’t really suggest the lyric of “Pick Yourself Up,” even if it is funny and the segue into the music is neatly managed. At a few points during the hour, the choice of song did not quite seem to fit the energy of where we were in the show or its preceding narrative. As the penultimate song, “Something’s Coming” seemed to be in the wrong place; similarly “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home,” as a reflection on an exhausting life on the road, felt rather downbeat for the number two song.

As a result, I was left unsure about what journey we had been on or what Purl wanted to share through this show.

Overall, there was much to appreciate in this show and the combination of Purl’s voice, her stage persona and her undoubted ability to leave a lasting impression on an audience is potentially a winning formula. Some direction and crafting, and perhaps one or two more unusual song choices would turn a hour of high quality entertainment into a distinctive, must-see show.

Fiona Coffey

Fiona Coffey joins our review team as a cabaret enthusiast and jazz singer, just as she makes her sell-out debut on the London cabaret scene with a self-devised tribute to her alter-ego Mrs. Robinson. She has hosted jazz evenings and performed at a number of venues including The Crazy Coqs, The Pheasantry, and 606 Club. In her day job she is a leadership development coach, travelling around the globe, working with a hugely diverse population of executives, as they grapple with the challenges of leadership and organizational change. Having recently expended most of her writing energies on her doctoral thesis, she welcomes the opportunity to entertain and inform a different audience through Cabaret Scenes.