Miss Hope Springs, resplendent on stage in glittering sequins, is the creation of composer, lyricist and comic actor Ty Jeffries.
In this 90-minute show at iconic Victorian venue Wilton’s Music Hall, its loose narrative arc pretty much encompasses life: big hopes, “loveless marriages”, career wrong turnings and broken dreams. Quickly we learn about Hope’s (naturally fictitious) backstory, her anecdotes punctuated every few minutes by a suitably rousing number.
And, from start to finish, it’s a Brexit-busting blast, from tales about lost songs written by Noel Coward to an #awks romance with Liberace (or “Lee”, as Hope calls him: “he’s brilliant on the piano but he sucks on the organ”); not to mention about her old pal Goldie Hawn: “Why can’t people just look natural?”
The running jokes are always hilarious: that she’s “nearly 40,” that her husband Irving has run off with a blonde (Carlos); and that the three of them now share a camper van (“When Irving said he was getting a little camper I didn’t think that was possible”).
Highlights are frequent: Pigalle – a key track for fans – is stuffed with good lines (“Come for cocaine and a quarrel”); Music To My Life is a genuine heartfelt moment (“You wrote the lyric to the music to my life”); and the excellently-titled Please Don’t Dessert Us At Dessert is the classic written by Coward for Hope when she was a showgirl “in the early sixt…seventies.”
By the time she’s belting out Trog – with rhymes like “he goes round clinging boulders in the fog” – the already rapt audience is in hysterics. And the finale, Hope’s theme song The Devil Made Me Do It, is so goddamn catchy I was still humming it making toast this morning.
Telly motormouth Jonathan Ross has, in fact, summed her up pretty astutely in the blurb: “The greatest star that never was singing the greatest hits that never were”.