Cabaret Fringe Festival
La Bohème
Until 11 Jun 2017

Review by Paige Mulholland

Review by Paige Mulholland

“Le Grand Legrand” starring Shelley Dunstone celebrates 85 years of Michel Legrand, who composed for hundreds of films, television series, and even a video game. Although Dunstone could have made more of the sultry dynamism of Legrand’s work and seemed to skim over his most well-known songs, Legrand fans and movie buffs will enjoy spending an hour taking a trip down memory lane and past the windmills of Legrand’s mind.

The show, a collaboration between vocalist Shelley Dunstone and pianist Ed Heddle, details Legrand’s career, describing the plots of movies he scored accompanied by renditions of notable works from each one. However, often it comes across as more documentary than cabaret, lacking the intimate knowledge of what drove Legrand as an artist needed to achieve the personal, warm atmosphere of cabaret.

Dunstone has a sweet, breathy voice that slips easily into many of Legrand’s songs, but whether it was nerves or an issue with tone, doesn’t quite convey the heat of many of Legrand’s more emotionally-charged pieces. This was compacted by the fact that Dunstone seemed hesitant with some of her lyrics, marring the intimate moments she was trying to create.

The show ended strong, saving the most well-known Legrand songs, “The Windmills of Your Mind” and “Never Say Never Again” for last. The audience certainly came to life for these two numbers, singing along excitedly; so much so that it might have been wise to use one of these songs a little earlier and engage everyone from the start.

Pianist Ed Heddle is excellent, playing from memory and responding easily to Dunstone and her interpretation of the music. As an accompanist should, he supports her completely without taking more than his fair share of the spotlight.

While the show would have benefited from a personal touch, it was clearly a labour of love for Dunstone and Heddle. Their enthusiasm is clear, and with some more development, will bring forth the same level of enthusiasm from their audience.