Blondes marks Denise Van Outen’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut. With a mainly female capacity crowd, the Basildon Blonde introduced herself in silhouette, before emerging into the spotlight dressed in a figure hugging red skirt and top. Mae West, an appropriate choice, was the first Blonde to feature.
The voice which brought Van Outen roles in a myriad of West End and Broadway musicals, is the clear highlight of Blondes. Her vocal range and talent is on full show as hits such as Olivia Newton John’s ‘Get Physical’, Dolly Parton’s ‘Dumb Blonde’ and Kylie’s ‘Better the devil you know’ are belted out with aplomb. There’s also the traditional cabaret interaction with Mike Moran, who provides the musical direction.
However, Blondes is about more than the music and cabaret as the projector screen hints. When van Outen dons her glasses and starts to run through the Blonde stats the show’s format begins to demystify. The projector screen continues to feature as Van Outen describes childhood memories and what might have been with Britney Spears alongside photographs and a video of when she first spotted her future husband. I guess Blondes could be described as a brief Denise Van Outen retrospective - filled with quips, jokes, stories and songs of her favourite blondes. It’s not easy seeing a media star give such personal recollections on stage and I’m sure some audience members will warm to it and some will cool.
Especially in the first half of Blondes I wished the brilliantly recited songs had continued in their entirety, rather than be interrupted by such dalliances as inspecting a Scot’s kilt on the front row. When a pitch perfect and energy filled version of Madonna’s ‘Like a prayer’ was broken by the appearance of lyrics it turned into a karaoke frenzy; perhaps too early in the evening for this! I’d also have preferred the Essex girl to nail it herself, rather than the women me behind murder it!
Blondes is an entertaining watch and an early evening conversation starter. I suspect Blondes won’t struggle to pull in the crowds and that’s fair enough - worth a watch.
Blondes is showing at Udderbelly’s pasture (The Cow Barn) until 31st August 2009.