Frances Ruffelle

The intimate yet energetic space that is the St James’ Studio exudes an air of mystery with the smoke machine and the blue lights shining down on the heavenly laden stage including the drum kit, two saxophones, a clarinet, a flute, acoustic guitar, a double bass, a plastic chair, and piano. Upon the piano is a vase of flowers, two perfume bottles, a lit candle and a glass of bubbly for what can only imagine is to set the tone of class and sophistication for an evening with a legend.

Discover the charms of the city of light and be seduced by the delightful Miss Ruffelle as she brings a Frenc-accented twist to her latest zestful and feminine performance celebrating all things ʻooh la laʼ with music from Francoise Hardy to Edith Piaf, Francis Lai to Claude Michel Schonberg.

Miss Ruffelle enters in large silver heels, red sun glasses and a large belted coat before seductively taking it off to reveal a gorgeous gold sequinned dress with a chiffon overlay with a section missing at the front – revealing a little too much at times. Full of small stories of what seems like memoirs of her past with interjections of anecdotes of her own experience incorporating the audience more within her making us feel more involved. However, mostly throughout the show I struggled to understand what was happening due to the line up of songs, the order of the placement within the show, and the fact quite a lot of the songs were in French.

New to the show for the St. James and as an added bonus for Les Mis fans, Ruffelle will sing Schonbergʼs original, beautiful song written for Eponine and cut from the show. Additionally, Ruffelle also had two guest performers – a treat as we were only scheduled one – first was Eliza Doolittle who had a gorgeous jazzy voice and second was Helen Woolf who demonstrated the ease of the soprano voice.

Standout moments in the show were the saxophonists solo early on in the show, Ruffelle’s rendition of the song ‘Bang Bang’ and Woolf’s guest performance for her beautiful ease of voice.

Reviewed by Tom Yates