After a sell-out season at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Rhonda Burchmore has further developed her new show Cry Me a River: the World of Julie London and brought the extended version to the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Being of a younger generation, I was not familiar with Julie London. However, once Rhonda started crooning away I realized I was very familiar with her music.
With cabaret seating, smokey mood lighting and her six piece “LA Combo” band, the night was set for a nostalgic saunter down the memory lane of Julie London and the West Coast Cool Jazz scene of the 50’s and 60’s.
Julie London led an interesting life as a singer, actress and poster girl, who rose to the top with a little help from some high school friends in the biz, and her romantic partners. But, as with a lot of the legends, their road is not always a happy one.
The show is not pure mimickry, but a narrative concert in which the story of Julie London is told and sung by Rhonda Burchmore, lamp-posting the way with appropriately chosen classics such as “Black Coffee”, “Give Me the Simple Life”, “Guess Who I Saw Today”, and of course her signature tune “Cry Me a River”.
Rhonda’s smouldering husky vocals, sassy patter, and sauntering stage presence injected a sexiness and humour that only Rhonda could accomplish.
With the orchestra onstage and a smoking hot lighting design, the set didn’t need much dressing apart from a chaise lounge and a small table. After all, in jazz, the piano is practically part of the furniture, which Rhonda used to great effect.
With over thirty songs in the program chosen from Julie London’s thirty-two album discography, the night did feel one or two songs too long but from the audience’s reaction at the end, they didn’t seem to mind. Not an “oh my god you have to see it” type of show, but a nice evening out with Rhonda and a great jazz band.