Thursday, 16 October 2008
Fan Review - What A Star She Is
“Can’t Smile Without You Review”.
I went to see “Can’t Smile Without You” on Wednesday 1st October at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. I was there visiting my friend Rachel who’s recently gone to study Drama at the nearby University, & it had always been our intention to go and see Francesca in the show; ever since we found out she was doing it.
We arrived at the theatre at about 7:15 on the evening, only to find, to our delight, that our seats had been upgraded – we were no longer in the upper circle but the grand circle, with a perfect view to the stage. I didn’t know many Barry Manilow songs prior to the show, so I wasn’t really sure of what to expect; other than an amazing performance from Fran... which obviously I got!
It took a while at the beginning to develop the storyline, but when it started to build up I really enjoyed it. It must’ve taken Fran at least 15 minutes to come on, & I remember nudging Rachel every time somebody came on – just hoping it would be her. The story was about a man called Tony, played by Chesney Hawkes, going to New York with his band in order to make it big in the music business.
The audience were given the impression during the climax to Fran’s entrance that Tony was falling in love on his travels with a girl called Mandy (ironically I thought!), played by Siobhan Dillon. So at this point I’d started to feel sorry for Tony’s girlfriend Lucy, played by Fran, as she had no idea what was going on. However, when she appeared on stage snogging the face off Tony’s best mate Scott; I laughed. It was exactly the kind of character I imagined her to play, & she suited the role brilliantly. Rachel and I must have been the only teenagers there, as when I looked around the theatre I could see mostly older couples; not forgetting of course the mad group of Chesney fans sitting about 4 rows in front of us. They were clapping and waving excitedly to every song he sang, however slow! It really added to the cheerful atmosphere generated from the audience in the theatre. During the interval we spotted two empty seats even nearer to the stage at the front of the grand circle, so, seizing the opportunity, moved straight away – at the time we were yet to realise how loud the Chesney fans actually were, LOL!
A performance I particularly enjoyed was “Copacabana”, where Fran appeared in dazzling gold; & obviously the bright yellow feather made her stand out even more. I also liked the songs “Looks Like We Made It” and “Who Needs To Dream”; they really made me think back to the time all those months ago when I first heard her sing. Those four weeks repeatedly dialling her number, hoping my votes would be enough – it made me truly believe how worthwhile that was.
After two standing ovations & most of the audience on their feet in appreciation of the amazing actors and actresses that had taken part, the show finished. As soon as the lights came back on, we hurried downstairs & straight to the stage door – I don’t think I could have bared the thought of not meeting Fran; I’d have been devastated! Rachel & I had only been waiting a matter of seconds before she appeared. I literally couldn’t speak for about a minute I was so star struck, but told myself I needed to get a grip else she’d soon go. She seemed in a bit of a rush, so I asked her if she had to leave. She said that she had to catch the 10:20 pm train & it was ten past as it was! She asked my friend where Oxford Street station was, & all three of us found it amusing when Rachel pointed across the road to a huge sign indicating the station was right there. Even so, she stayed to have a picture with each of us, & then I suggested one of us all together. After that had been taken, she made us check it to see if it was alright; saying she was happy to have another one. Just before she made a dash across the road I asked her to sign my programme, where she wrote “To Claire, With Love Francesca J xxx”. Then, telling us she had to love & leave us, she left. I was so happy I’d met her that I shed a few tears; I just couldn’t believe I’d met her. I’ve waited at stage doors at a few shows before to see the cast, but I was determined that night, & I have to say I’ve never met anybody as genuinely nice & appreciative of support from her fans as Francesca. She had to catch a train in 10 minutes, but took the time to chat to until then at least.
I’m hoping to go & see the show again in mid-November when it is on in Stoke, & hopefully I’ll see Francesca again too. She is such a talented woman, & I can guarantee that I’ll continue to follow & support her in whatever she chooses to do in the future. Francesca Jackson is a true inspiration.