This was my fifth show of the 2015 Hayes Theatre Cabaret season and I’ll honestly admit, the performer I was the least familiar with. But by the end, I became a Josie Lane (Miracle City, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) fan.
Strutting around the Hayes stage, which was beautifully decorated with bamboo plants, screens & lanterns, Jane brings us stories from her childhood & adulthood accompanied by ‘musical theatre songs of the Asian persuasion’. She was joined on stage by musical director Mathew Frank on the piano.
Lane jokes that show was formally known as Ching Chong Sing-a-Long and to emphasis this point, some songs were sung in faux-Asian accents, or in the character of her larger than life Filipino mother.
The show truly came alive and hit its best moments though when Lane simply used her own incredibly strong voice to full use and belted out some amazing songs. These included “I Enjoy Being a Girl” (Flower Drum Song), “Something Wonderful” (The King and I), “The Movie in My Mind” (Miss Saigon) and “The Moon and I” (The Mikado).
After hearing Lane deliver the songs I was left scratching my head as to how she hasn’t been cast in more major musicals. In each one she gave a glimpse into the character from that musical whilst delivering a flawless performance. Lane quips that her career is split between either landing all the Asian roles or being told she ‘isn’t Asian enough’.
Lane also bought a lot of comedic elements to her show, not only from some rather racy and blue tales, but also from past theatre roles like “I Speak Six Languages” (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and “Pop Muzik” (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert).
There were times when I felt Lane drew out the jokes too long or hammed it up unnecessarily. Some moments felt more like an amateur stand up comedy show than a cabaret show.
Lane closed the show on two incredibly strong notes with another stunning song from Miss Saigon (“I’d Give My Life For You”) and “Happy Talk” (South Pacific) with Lane on the ukulele.
As she dished out fortune cookies for the entire audience, Lane left us with the message ‘Be proud of who you are & shout it from the rooftop’. I hope casting directors hear Lane’s voice from the rooftop and cast this talented lady in more shows.
Overall – 3.5