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Jess Robinson as Little Voice and Beverley Callard as Mari Hoff. Photo Credit Paul Coltas
Jess Robinson as Little Voice and Beverley Callard as Mari Hoff. Photo Credit Paul Coltas

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice has arrived at The Grand Theatre, Blackpool. Whether you have seen the film or if you have yet to see it, do not miss this witty emotional plethora of great drama. I laughed and cried throughout the performance. Having seen the film twice I thought the stage play could not match the original performance of Blenda Blethyn as Mari the mother of Little Voice that was originally played by Jane Horrocks.

I was wrong. The cast were brilliant and held your attention throughout. Beverley Callards (Liz McDonald – Coronation Street) portrayal of Mari brought sadness into your heart together with a lot of laughter. Little Voice (Jess Robinson Dead Ringers. BBC 1) has a mesmerising singing voice to match that of Jane Horrocks. I could have listened to her singing again and again.

Mari is an insensitive mother whose main aim in life is to meet her needs above all else with no regard for her shy, retiring daughters feelings. Her priorities are men and enough money to keep her in booze. When she meets her new lover Ray Say (Philip Andrew – UK tour, Doctor in The House) a local talent scout, she finally gains an interest in Little Voice as he notes the remarkable talent that Little Voice has in her renditions of some of the greatest singers, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Marlene Deitrich to name a few. Ray Say starts to launch Little Voice’s future and arranges for an agent from London to see her perform. Mari realises this is her chance at last her dreams of wealth and fame are going to come true through Little Voice. Unfortunately, for Mari and Ray they forgot one important factor. Does shy Little Voice want a dream career? Singing to an audience is not of course in Little Voice’s plans.

LV takes refuge in her bed and refuses to get up. Ray Say uses Little Voice’s love of her deceased father to manipulate her. He said, ‘Your father will be so proud if you sing the songs he loved to an audience’. She performs and returns home retreating to her bedroom again, withdrawing completely.

Finally, Little Voice is rescued, when the house is engulfed in flames caused by the dodgy electrics, by Billy (Ray Quinn – Dancing On Ice 2009) who empowers her into believing in herself. She can now be free from the oppressive regime of Mari, her mother and Ray Say. Their hopes of stardom and money dashed. Her spirits are raised as she finds her voice, speaks up for herself and is able to sing in her own magnificent voice.

There were many highs that made the audience and I cry with laughter. The lows, and my tears, were lifted by the expertly timed comedy element. I was sorry when the play came to an end as I would love to have listened to more of Little Voice’s singing, experienced more of the comedy and seen how her future life unfolded.

As the saying goes, ‘If the audience is left wanting more, that is the sign of a successful production’.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is at The Grand Theatre Blackpool until Saturday 24th November 2012. For more information visit The Grand Theatre website.

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