Tell Me On A Sunday is one of those peculiar shows that seems to change a little every time it is staged. Originally recorded as a television special in 1980, starring Marti Webb, the show spawned a number 2 album in the charts and opened in London’s West End in 1982 as a two part show ‘Song and Dance (Tell Me On A Sunday performed as Act 1 and a ballet performance as Act 2). In 1985 the show was ‘americanised’ for its Broadway debut, starring Bernadette Peters. In 2003, the show, along with several new songs that had been written for it, returned to London’s West End starring Denise Van Outen. 2010 saw Claire Sweeney take the show on a UK Tour before the show came full circle in 2014 with Marti Webb reprising the role she originated, at the St James Theatre before transferring into the West End for a short run. Phew! And now, two years later, the show is back on tour starring Jodie Prenger. As a fan of the show I was keen to go along to the one night show at the New Wimbledon Theatre to check out her performance and to see how the show has changed.
This one woman show tells the story of Emma, a girl who is hopeless at love and writes endless letters to her mother, telling her about the latest love of her life (to which there are a few). She travels from New York to LA, following her dreams of a happy marriage and we are there, all the way through her tumultuous journey, which is formatted as a one hour song-cycle.
Featuring the hit songs ‘Tell Me On A Sunday’ and ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’, Tell Me On A Sunday is full of gorgeous songs written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black. Jodie Prenger is possibly the greatest ‘Emma’ to have ever played this role. She commands the stage at all time and I have always admired the way she is able to act through song and embellish the story with the occasional laugh or comical glance. Her vocals are top notch and she plays the hopeless romantic that lets love cloud her judgement perfectly.
I would love to see a fully staged version of Tell Me On A Sunday, with moving set pieces and props that really bring this story to life and give it the look it deserves. Even when Emma moves to LA, we still have the New York skyline in the background and the only real prop that is on stage is a coat stand. The music is beautiful and it really would benefit from a set that doesn’t look’s like it is being transported from venue to venue in the back of a Ford Fiesta.
As Tell Me On A Sunday is a one act show, the second half of this performance is a twenty minute Q&A in which audience members can ask questions, along with a couple of additional songs, performed by Jodie. Whilst this is a nice touch and allows the audience to find out more about the star, it does feel as though it is only done so an interval can be included to sell drinks at the bar.
Whilst not a brilliant production of the show, Tell Me On A Sunday will always be a classic musical and Jodie Prenger does the role of Emma proud.
Reviewed by West End Wilma