Monday, 5 May 2014

Somewhere Under The Rainbow The Liza Minnelli Story at the Landor

A BIOGRAPHICAL piece of musical theatre about the legendary singer Liza Minnelli is to get its London premiere at Clapham's Landor Theatre.
Following a sold-out Irish tour and rave reviews at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Somewhere Under The Rainbow The Liza Minnelli Story features Brixton-based Sharon Sexton - currently in the West End cast of The Commitments.
In the show Sharon portrays Ms Minnelli, sharing legendary stories and secrets from the star's fascinating career whilst belting her way through many of the signature tunes from the Minnelli songbook, including Mein Herr, Some People and Maybe This Time to name just a few.
It was written by Sharon's husband Cillian O’Donnachadha, and came about as a result of his research into the singer's life.
"People told me I looked like her but I didn't want to play one of the roles she had made famous because I didn't want my performance to be compared with hers. So my husband thought we should find out more about her and maybe write something in which I could play her as herself," says Sharon.
"He started reading her biography which was fascinating and he ended up writing this show. It's been the most amazing journey for us both because neither of us knew a great deal about her before we started.
"She had a fascinating career and it's been a joy to discover more about her," she says. "She grew up in MGM studios but was cut off by her parents when she was 16 because they didn't want her to pursue a career in showbiz. She really had to fight for every role.
"So this show aims to tell her story and show a side to her that some people may not know about."
It is set backstage before one of her gigs and sees Sharon as Liza speak to the audience, tell them stories about her life and sing some of her songs.
"I have seen her perform in the past and so it's a massive challenge to play her because she's got such incredible energy and passion," says Sharon.
"She's also very vulnerable and incredibly honest when she sings. Her voice is amazing and she manages to create every character when she sings which I really admire. She can perform like no one else and it makes her unique.
"I'm also a huge fan so I am keen to do her justice."
And she is pleased the show is getting it's London debut at the Landor.
"I love this theatre," she says. "It's small and intimate which is exactly the sort of space that suits the show. The audience is right there!
"It's also close to my home in Brixton which is a place I love because there is always such a great buzz."
And while Ms Minnelli hasn't seen the show her half sister Lorna Luft has written to Sharon about it.
"I had a really lovely letter from her," she says. "It would be amazing if Liza came to the show - that would be fantastic!"

Somewhere Under the Rainbow - The Liza Minnelli Story is on at the Landor Theatre, Landor Road, from Monday, May 12 until Saturday May 17. Tickets £15, £12 concessions. Call the box office on 020 7737 7276.

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