Patricia and I both quite enjoy watching Ant and Dec. They are so darned smooth at what they do. Their besuited, carefully rehearsed, interactions hark partially back to days of Morecambe and Wise. Plus, they love a little mishap or slip-up along the way because they are fearless in adapting themselves to the unexpected and always seems to capitalize on those moments. It’s also interesting to have a glimpse behind the façade of even minor celebrity and confirm that, yes, they all have pretty much the same basic concerns and needs that we do.
This year’s show went up a notch for me, though, when two additional celebrities arrived in the middle of this week. That’s because one of them just happens to be Ruthie Henshall. You see, Ruthie holds a tiny corner of my heart and has done for some time now.
Don’t get me wrong, I don't know hardly anything about her. I’ve hardly ever seen her perform or sing. I didn’t even know she had a connection to Prince Edward until she started talking about it on the show the other night. I am not any kind of super-fan, I’m afraid, though she does seem very nice.
But, still, as I just said, Ruthie has this tiny corner of my heart booked and probably always will.
Let me tell you why and maybe show you too. If you’d like that?
Would you like that?
(Too creepy… sorry)
I’ve grown to like musicals. Not all of them, God help us, but enough. I’ve always had a soft spot for a good show tune and my regular date with Aedín Gormley on Lyric FM on Saturdays has deepened my knowledge a little. I like all kinds of music, I really do, but musical theatre has a small corner of my heart. And it’s in a small corner of that small corner where Ruthie lives.
My favourite musical is Cabaret. I’m sure I’ve written about it here previously. Late one night, years ago, on ITV, I happened upon a video recording of the Donmar Warehouse revival production from circa 1993. I loved it. Alan Cumming was such a persuasive (and pervasive) MC and he also brought such pathos to the role. Then there was the brilliant Jane Horrocks, almost bursting blood vessels in her vein-popping rendition of the title song. The programme was on so late at night and then vanished so thoroughly that I almost thought I had dreamed seeing it but then I managed to get a cast CD off eBay and played it ‘til it cracked so it was real all right.
(We’re boiling this down to where we need to be. Nearly there. Bear with me)
My favourite song in Cabaret is ‘Maybe This Time’. In the Donmar show, the late Natasha Richardson brought a new measure of vulnerability and pain to the song, she did a great job.
And now we are down to Ruthie and her place in my heart. She sang ‘Maybe This Time’ and, for me, it is ‘the’ version. The definitive’. I’m going to try to stick the YouTube video in at the bottom of the post. Let’s see how that works out. You may be underwhelmed, you may not. I don’t mind. For me, it is a marvelous rendition. Not flashy or ostentatious, never veering over the top. Just delivered. Bang. Perfect.
For me, there’s also something of a subversive element to her performance. Look at the video. This is obviously lifted from one of those bog-standard Saturday night ITV fill-in-the-gap variety shows of the nineties. Jesus, it’s even got a ‘singalong’ red button link in the top corner. The arrangement of the song is also pretty bog standard. It’s got an eighties sitcom feel to it… or something like that… I don’t know, I’m making this shit up as I go along. It is all just set up to be slightly tacky and completely forgettable. Something to watch while you’re having your dinner and then move on from.
But nobody told Ruthie that or, as I prefer to believe, she didn’t hear them. Whoever she is, and I obviously don’t really know who she is, she is obviously a proud denizen of the higher echelons of musical theatre and she did not turn up to this forgettable TV show to turn in a throw-away performance. She arrives at the mic, sings, and simple nails the song. Simply. Nails. It.
There. I’ve sold it pretty hard and I’m going to try to embed the YouTube video now. Have a look, see what you think. I would ask that you stay to the end to get the overall effect. It’s not about any one moment in the song, it’s not about the big finish. It’s just the overall subtle honesty of how she does it.
I hope you like it as I do.
And welcome to the jungle, Ruthie, even if it is only a tatty old castle in Wales.
I hope it works out good for you.
* * * *
* * * *
Footnote – I’ve just been reading back on this, prior to posting, and I think sound like someone. “You sound like someone here,” I said to myself. Then I figured out who it is.
Have you ever read the book American Psycho?
I sound like Patrick Bateman.
Have a nice day.