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Review: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice @ Vaudeville, London
THIS time little more than a year ago Diana Vickers was just like any other teenager.
But this week she stole the show in her debut in London's West End and wowed the national critics.
A jaw-dropping performance at the opening gala night left the audience gasping and provoked a standing ovation for the 18-year-old from Huncoat at the final curtain.
Leading theatre critics variously described her performance as: “a five-star creamer of a performance” and “an extremely assured West End debut”.
And the audience couldn’t have agreed more.
There she was on stage stripped of all the glitz and glam — and makeup of the X Factor and its lavish set.
Her hair plaited like a young girl, her face as fresh as a daisy and she was mesmorising.
At times she was alone on stage, singing her heart out, and you completely forgot that she was new to all this.
The rather long-winded storyline requires someone who can not only sing and act but also belt out a tune in the voices of the great divas of the past.
And sing in their voices Diana did — with amazing accuracy.
Her Shirley Bassey was superb as was her Marilyn Monroe and her Lulu was perfect.
You could hear the audience whispering in disbelief as she sang classics from the likes of Cilla Black, Julie Andrews and Judy Garland.
The former Westholme pupil proved she can more than hold her own against experienced professionals including Lesley Sharp as her alcoholic mother and Hustle star Marc Warren, the would-be talent spotter Ray Say.
Cartwright’s play is an actors’ dream, blessed with cartoon-like characters, dirty jokes, and of course song (plus a copy of the Lancashire Telegraph as a prop.) Diana plays LV, a quiet, painfully shy girl, whose beloved father dies leaving her his precious record collection. She surrounds herself with his LPs, spending most of her time in her bedroom.
She brings such vulnerability to the role, there's no sign of the Diana we know off stage whose speech is littered with exclamation marks and hand gestures.
At times the pace of the play did flag but the moment Diana was in the spotlight, the audience sat to attention.
Who knew she could act, and as the script dictates, be so funny as well?
But her finest moment came in the grand finale where Little Voice overcomes her fears and sings in her own voice, a song written by Take That’s Mark Owen especially for Diana.
As the curtain went down and the cast came back for their final bows you could see the excitement in Diana's face.
She did a little punch in the air as she saw her friends and family in the crowd, and there’s no doubt she received the loudest cheer of the night.
The original LV, Rossendale's Jane Horrocks, is currently starring in Annie Got Your Gun, in a nearby theatre.
She'll be disappointed she missed her successor, who rivals her own performance.
And Diana’s critics will certainly be amazed; Simon Cowell was wrong — this girl has definitely got the X Factor.