Review: Liliane Montevecchi, Pizza on the Park

Monday 16 March 2009

liliane-montevecchiAt the age of 76 former ballerina Liliane Montevecchi can still lift one foot in the air and rest it on a grand piano. That’s class for you.

At a slightly younger age Phil can still jack one foot up into the air and rest it on an upright piano. That’s Titanium hips for you.

Andrew can do neither of these feats.

Still, never mind. It’s not a competition, as Andrew hissed to Phil while foiling his attempt to demonstrate last night at Pizza on the Park where Miss Liliane Montevecchi is putting her foot on the piano eight times a week .

This is part of the American Songbook in London, the new residency run by Mister Jeff Harnar which  has an array of musical folk booked through until June interspersed with the intriguing sounding 1959 Songbook.

liliane-montevecchi-2The Whingers had been invited to take in Miss Montevecchi’s show and – despite the fact that a great deal of it is in yer actual French, that being Miss Montevecchi’s nationality – most enjoyable it was. Highlights included a French version of “Autumn Leaves” and a bilingual version of “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, a cross-dressing (mac and hat) “Just A Gigolo” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and a raucous “I Never Do Anything Twice”.

And how civilized that one can enjoy live music while eating pizza. In Andrew’s view this is the height of sophistication and he could almost imagine that he was at the Stork Club or at 21.

Miss Montevecchi obviously recognised a fellow sophisticate and cooed over him stroking his facial hair and calling him “my little bearded one”. Phil was spitting feathers and assumed the tight fitting cat suit – which she wears alarmingly better than Andrew’s attempts – was stopping the blood supply to her brain.

The Whingers had seen her perform here a few years back and it seemed basically the same show but with more French. The stories bear repeating, especially to the Whingers with their failing memories,  and particularly the one about a light-fingered Mistinguett.

Anyway, it was all most enjoyable although the Whingers did occasionally wonder quite how accurate some of Miss Montevecchi’s recollections were. When her anecdote about appearing in Nine concluded with “And I won best actress Tony” Phil couldn’t stop himself muttering “Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical” under his breath. Still, the glorious thing about septugenarian showbusiness reminiscences is that there is no devil in the detail; none of it matters a jot.

On their last visit so see her Miss M had insisted on being photographed with the Whingers which gave Phil the chance to tell her he’d seen her in Nine on Broadway all those years ago. She purred back “Dahling you must have been in a pushchair” although to this day Andrew swears that the word she used was bathchair. But that particular night it was Andrew who spat enough feathers to refurbish Montevecchi’s two extensive feather boas.

The Pizza On The Park has had some refurbishments and alterations itself and you can now enter directly from the street. But on the minus side the artistes now have a dressing room which means you no longer get to see them milling around aimlessly or leaning against the bar in between shows. This is a step backwards in our opinion.

Miss Montevecchi plays Pizza On The Park until Saturday (21 March 09).

4 Responses to “Review: Liliane Montevecchi, Pizza on the Park”

  1. JohnnyFox Says:

    1959 Songbook sounds good. Are you planning a visit?

    Tonight, Ev’reything’s Coming Up Roses, The Sound of Music, Take Me ALong, Together Wherever We Go, I Could Have Danced All Night, Shy, Till There Was You, If Momma Was Married, Love Look Away, On the Street Where You Live, Some People, Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?, Goodnight My Someone, Madeira, M’Dear, M’Dear, The Party’s Over, Just In Time

    sorry they overlooked ‘I’m Goin’ Back To the Bonjour Tristesse Brassiere Company’, my favourite number from Bells are Ringing.


  2. For those of us who werent there, can we have the story about light-fingered Mistinguett?


  3. Saw 1959 and reviewed it on my site. It’s OK, but rushed – none of the songs are complete and something about the presentation seems a little “try too hard” and fake.


  4. that’s where anita harris has been hiding!


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