It’s been nearly one year since Evelyn Hoskins won the Rising Star Award at the West End Wilma Awards. Since then, she’s performed as Liesl in ITV’s The Sound of Music! Live, as well as performing alongside the likes of Jenna Russell and Bradley Walsh in Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure at the Adelphi. Now she returns to the cabaret circuit with her solo show, There Was a Little Girl, directed by Frances Ruffelle and previously performed at the Battersea Barge last April.
Evelyn makes an important yet humorous point in that the majority of her roles have mainly been of a younger age, from Liesl in The Sound of Music, Wendy in Peter Pan and the title role in Carrie. This is the basis of her show as she performs a practically entire life story from the age of five up until now and her development of maturity, age and how both, sometimes, never seem to change. It’s a nice concept, but with just under an hour to talk and sing about her life can make some details of her story and insight into some of her roles rushed and hasty.
The mix of pop and musical theatre repertoire was nice, with Evelyn again making fun of her age in certain songs including ‘When I Grow Up’ from Matilda, usually performed by a child actor of around ten years old. There were also two duets with Sam Lupton performing alongside for ‘First Date/Last Night’ and a surprise appearance from Frances herself with ‘Get Happy,’ showcasing some great sisterhood between the two women. In particular, Evelyn’s performance of ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen,’ with a costume change before from innocent school girl to tight leather-wearing adult, was ingenious, turning the springy uptempo number into a sleazy, slow jazz song with well-placed vocal slides reminiscent of Peggy Lee at times.
There Was a Little Girl is still a little rough around the edges. With a lack of audience-performer connection and quite self-indulgent script with repetitive jokes about her age, there is still some work that needs to be done. However, you cannot deny Evelyn has a very strong chest voice and there is an endearing youthfulness in her face when she performs that cannot not be warmed to.
Reviewed by Jack Grey