Missy Malone and Friends Burlesque Revue, Cheltenham Playhouse

Missy Malone Show, Evesham

Missy Malone Show, Evesham - Credit: Dave Long

Candia McKormack enjoys a night to be remembered with Missy Malone and friends in Cheltenham

Missy Malone Show, April 2015

Missy Malone Show, April 2015 - Credit: Archant

Our Missy never, but never, fails to disappoint and, oh my lord, did she ever deliver tonight.

I like to think of myself as something of a veteran of the world of burlesque and, specifically, the Missy Malone and Friends Revue shows – other shows are of course available – but I have always returned to the good-natured vibe that is Ms Malone et al.

I have to admit prior to the show to being just a teeny bit apprehensive at the absence of the effervescent love child of Kenneth Williams and George Formby that is Desmond O’Connor for this MM&F outing. Will we miss the little ukulele in hand? Will the newcomer receive an equally warm hand on his entrance? Will he be able to keep the level of whooping, cheering and whistling at the desired level? Part of me wanted the new boy to succeed, but an even bigger part of me whose heart belongs to Desmond wanted him to crash and burn (I know it sounds harsh, but that’s show business).

When Dusty Limits hit the stage, though, we were all immediately reassured that we were in good hands and, although he was sans ukulele, he could sing – I mean really sing – and we were all putty in his hands. His version of ‘Whatever Lola Wants’ (replacing ‘Lola’ with ‘Dusty’, natch) has to be experienced. Yep.

As is tradition, Missy both opened and closed the show and was on perfect form. Her classic ‘40s/’50s Hollywood starlet looks, costumes and grace, coupled with likeable charm, always warms an audience to her, and in her home town there’s no mistaking how much she’s loved.

Other acts included the gorgeous Eliza De Lite – with her young Bette Davis looks she really brought old-school glamour to the proceedings – and the very dynamic Beau Rocks, whose lace-topped purple stocking founds its way home with us tonight. Tony, who accompanied me, won’t thank me for explaining why… all I can say is that he who slides lowest in his seat during audience participation moments may as well have a spotlight and neon sign saying ‘Don’t pick on me’ trained on him.

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Brighton-based Adriano Fettucini showed off his gravity-defying skills with cigar boxes while reciting a ditty in praise of the toothbrush ‘tache, and even treated us all to an hilarious strip-tease while riding a unicycle… including Union Flag ruffle boxers and tassled pasties. Yes, really!

But one of the biggest surprises of the evening was seeing Abigail Collins in the guise of ‘Peggy Sued’, whom I hadn’t seen on stage since taking my young teen son to see her perform as both multi-hula hooping ‘Angel Rodriguez’ and ballerina ‘Katinka’ at Cheltenham’s Parabola Arts Centre a few years ago. Possibly not my best parenting moment, but je ne regrette rien. On returning home this evening, I mention to him that I’d seen her, and we both relived with admiration and clarity her earlier performance. Her stand-up alone is side-splittingly funny, but what she does with a stack of hula hoops has to be seen to be believed.

So, we return home with smiles on our faces, a song in our hearts, and a lace-topped purple stocking in one of our breast pockets, and yet again, it’s been a Missy Malone night to be remembered.

A huge thank you to you, Missy, and indeed to your wonderful friends. There will always be a warm welcome for you in Cheltenham.

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www.missymalone.co.uk

www.cheltplayhouse.org.uk