Event review: Miss Hope Springs plays Hoodoo’s, Saturday 22nd October

By - Wednesday 2nd November, 2016

Ty Jeffries’ alter ego, the redoubtable Miss Hope Springs, brought tears and smiles to Hoodoos

Photo by Ty Jeffries, used with permission.

A string of show tunes play out from the speakers as we wait for the show to begin. The stage holds a keyboard draped with fairy lights, the Mayor of Croydon, Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, has been invited and his table’s at the front of the audience, laden with pretzels. Something’s gonna go down.

The show’s host makes an introduction to the evening and the mayor is invited to say a few words. There’s a bit of pre-amble explaining the mayor’s presence this evening which mentions our recent Croydon Pride festival, that the mayor and the host had a good chat that day and now he’s here at Matthews Yard, at a night hosted by the South London Jazz and Blues Club, introducing a West End cabaret star with hair alone larger than Chewbacca.

Miss Hope Springs is a dazzling blonde, perfectly coiffed and potentially highly flammable. She’s quite a beautiful creature, a good 7ft in a shimmering grey-black sequin trouser suit and heels. The mayor invites Hope to the stage, and after making her way to the front of the Hoodoo’s audience to accept the ‘Key to Croydon’ from Mayor Wayne with humility and grace, she towers over him, asking, ‘Will this be over soon?’ so hilariously politely.

So before Hope takes her seat at the keyboard, it’s clear to me she possesses star quality. I’m thinking, ‘what will she do next?’. Her being given the key to our town turns out to be just the first in a string of bizarre moments in our evening with her. Hope Springs is an act that has quick wit, patter and the songs down, leaving more than enough room for ad-libs and one liners. Barmen chatting audibly during the show, an accidental building alarm (never explained, during or after) and audience members who in this small space with house lights on, keep forgetting they can be seen from the stage… all are received by Hope and dealt with accordingly.

Hope’s got standards, and the audience adjusts itself accordingly

We hear Hope’s first song which sets the mood for an evening of gentle but extremely sharp and intelligent comedy and I am not surprised when from the stage she calls to the woman in the front row, busy on her i-Phone and lit up like a Christmas tree, ‘Are you doing anything important on your phone, dear?’ to which the woman replies, ‘I was just tweeting about this show’… to which Hope responds, ‘Well by all means… carry on,’ and even poses for pictures which the woman misses because yep, she’s too busy on her phone.

But we all know where we stand now. Hope’s got standards. And the audience adjusts itself accordingly. Her back story, describing a career spanning the 60s (or 70s, as Hope would prefer), to the present is a long and varied one and she describes her fair share of unsavoury experiences. But she has battled through them all. She’s coped with a challenging childhood, a critical mother, a series of seedy nightspots, a string of lousy husbands… which come together to pepper her collection of songs with very funny stories and knowingly familiar set up lines.

An exquisite performer and a deliciously lovely act

Experiencing Miss Hope Springs is to not only meet a gentle, charismatic star of the cabaret stage with a heart of gold. It is to see an exquisite performer in Ty Jeffries. Crowd work and great banter are wrapped up into a deliciously lovely act at all levels: professionally-executed cabaret with clever songs, great piano playing and fun lyrics.

The act itself is so different to other things I have seen at Hoodoos. I think it is a great move for venues to offer different hosts and organisations their space to work with because it means audiences receive variety. What I really enjoyed about this show was being able to sit back and enjoy an experienced, professionally-minded performer, Ty Jeffries, practising his craft and doing it brilliantly.

Jenny Lockyer

Jenny Lockyer

Jenny has been running Storytime for seven years now alongside work in music, comedy and her role as director of Funsense Theatre Company which offers accessible and fun sessions for disabled and non-disabled children to enjoy together. More info: www.facebook.com/jennyshows www.funsensetheatre.co.uk

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