Pros: The chance to see an icon of your teenage years up close and singing jazz and Broadway highlights.
Cons: Ringwald seemed uncomfortable for a large part of the performance. Also, the combination of trying to focus on a show and having people around you eat really didn’t work for me.
Yes, THAT Molly Ringwald, most commonly known as ‘princess’ Claire in coming-of-age eighties classic The Breakfast Club. The former teen idol is currently performing an international tour that accompanies her 2013 jazz album Except Sometimes.
Ringwald, the daughter of a jazz pianist, was on one of her father’s albums at the ripe old age of six, so whilst most people will know her for her acting, performing as a jazz singer isn’t much of a stretch for her. That said, I can’t imagine the forty-odd audience members present shelled out £35 per ticket primarily for her vocal talents. As for me, I certainly signed up for this show to see what had become of one of the stars of the film that, together with the music of Dashboard Confessional and an emo fringe, is the manifestation of my teenage angst. By the looks of it, the rest of the spectators were probably of that difficult age when I was first released in cinemas (I was minus four at the time), but I’m guessing we were all there for the same reasons.
The subject of our curiosity was clearly self-aware enough to realise this, although she also appeared ill at ease and a bit frazzled. This was especially noticeable at the beginning of her first set; she didn’t seem to be enjoying herself at all and some of her interactions with the spectators were spectacularly awkward. Later on she seemed to warm to it all a bit more, proposing a drinking game and even doing a remarkably good impression of a crow, and as a result the atmosphere became more relaxed.
An Evening With Molly Ringwald centred on the ‘Great American Songbook’, the canon of popular music, featuring mainly show tunes from the twenties to the fifties of the last century. The set list included classics such as I Feel Pretty from West Side Story and Billie Holiday’s Don’t Explain, but there were also a few modern additions: Rufus Wainwright’s Vibrate and, of course, Don’t You Forget About Me. Ringwald has a good voice for jazz and a natural flair with intonation that particularly came out in the up-tempo numbers. The highlight of the evening was without a doubt her passionate rendition of Brother Can You Spare a Dime, which she belted out with admirable ease. Ironically though, the ultimate stars of this ‘evening with Molly Ringwald’ were her musicians, musical director and pianist Peter Smith, bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Winston Clifford. The latter two aren’t usually part of Ringwald’s band; in fact, she told us she only met them ten minutes before the show, but there was not a hint of it in their smooth performance.
The Pheasantry is a club tucked away in the basement of a Pizza Express on the Kings Road. Whilst separated from the main restaurant, it is still a part of it so you’re able to order food and drinks during the performance. For some people this is probably the pinnacle of joy; for me, it really isn’t. I love music and if it were legal to marry pizza, I probably would, but two good things together don’t always make one great. This was undeniably proven by the lady next to me who was eating a salad during the show. While she was doing it in a very civilised manner, it crunched. A lot.
All in all, I had a pleasant evening with Molly Ringwald that admittedly would’ve been more enjoyable if I’d had the idea that Molly Ringwald had had a pleasant evening with us. Nevertheless, the singing was good, the music was great and the salad was. . . er. . . crunchy.
Musical Director: Peter Smith
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run in the UK.