Saturday 25th March, 2017 at Brasserie Zedel (The Crazy Coqs)
Blazing onto the scene with a rendition of ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ before weaving her way through an impressively diverse set list, Rachel Tucker proves herself, once again, to be an incredibly versatile songstress. Aside from that undeniably superb voice and brilliantly judicious song selections, Tucker entertains the crowd with various comical personal and professional anecdotes and some pacy interactions with starry eyed audience members. Her stories range from auditions and Broadway to love and childhood dancing – and the audience are nothing if not completely taken with her easy charm and cheeky tales. Under direction of Guy Retallack, she works the crowd like a talented few can and her playful ventures into the audience, along with the close quarters of the venue, create an intimacy which makes the whole evening a treat – especially after years of seeing her in the vast surroundings of a West End theatre.
The set list covers an impressive amount of ground, with nods to Broadway favourites ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and ‘Waitress’ and a good range of others. There are some great highlights, like Streisand’s ‘The Way We Were’, Garland’s ‘The Man that Got Away’, a surprisingly gritty Elkie Brooks’ ‘Pearl’s a Singer’, and an even more surprising (and tenderly sad) rendition of ‘When She Loved Me’ from ‘Toy Story’. The audience are then treated to the unveiling of a beautiful original song – soon to be found on a new album I hope. There’s also a gorgeous, refreshing take on ‘No Good Deed’ which is a real winner for ‘Wicked’ fans and a sweet moment of recognition for such an influential part of Tucker’s career to date. She goes on to impress with stellar comic timing and some gleefully outrageous renditions of ‘I Can Cook’ and ‘Roxie’, complete with a brilliant rendition of that ‘I love ya honey’ monologue.
Tucker continues to impress with her ability to convey whole lives lived in a single song. That Garland cover could certainly sting the most armoured of hearts. Particularly impressive to note is that those emotive performances are as affecting as the shoulder-shimmying numbers, with her vocal adjustments effortless and seamlessly executed as she moves from a teary-eyed ballad to a jazzier number. Yet Tucker basks in a rockier sound than she’s had the opportunity to showcase recently, having been performing the famous music of ‘Wicked’ and the harmonic melodies to be found in ‘The Last Ship’. It appears that the vocal vault of this powerhouse may in fact have no walls, ceiling or floor…
Audiences of recent shows have seen guest appearances from Louise Dearman, Katie Rowley-Jones and Rachael Wooding, while at this performance the special guest is the brilliant Suzie Mathers. Also making an appearance was Giles Terera, who is soon to be found in the U.K. production of ‘Hamilton’, and who joined Tucker and Dugdale on stage for a gloriously energetic rendition of ‘Good Morning’ (fitting, as the clocks went forward as we sat there).
The really great thing about this show is that it’s a chance to see Tucker’s talent at the source rather than manifested in a character. One thing is certain: watching Rachel Tucker captivate a packed venue certainly makes a great night out.
Rachel Tucker’s first U.K. Tour begins in May and you can snap up some tickets here. I’d recommend that you do so pretty pronto – these London gigs sold out in a matter of days!