ON Sunday star of BBC’s Dead Ringers & The Impressions Show, as well as ITV’s Newzoids and Coronation Street, Debra Stephenson hosted an evening of music, comedy and 100 voices, as she kicked off her national debut tour at The Lowry Theatre in Salford. Quays News entertainment reporter Francesca Eagleton went along…

The show opened with a musical number, Lola’s Theme (I’m a different person) by the Shape Shifters, which undoubtedly set the tone for the rest of the performance. For one person to take on 100 different voices through the course of one evening, was certainly ‘impressive.’

Accompanied throughout the show by the incredible James Stead Orchestra, Stephenson takes on the personas of some of the 20th century’s most beloved female singers.

The audience were taken on a trip down memory lane, as they travelled through the decades; which was clearly a delight to the variety of ages throughout the audience.

Starting the first act with the 1950’s and the jazz age; Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald, moving through to the 60’s with a memorable tribute to Cilla Black.

During the 70’s and 80’s era, Stephenson had the entire audience signing along during her impression of Karen Carpenter’s ‘Close to You’ and Tina Turner’s ‘Proud Mary’.

Throughout the show the majority of Stephenson’s impersonations were remarkably accurate. However, during the noughties section, some of the singers with bigger vocal ranges; such as Adele did at times seem a bit of a struggle for the impressionist and slightly out of reach.

Nevertheless, Stephenson not only attained the voices of the characters, but she did an astonishing job of acquiring their body language and facial expressions, which at times had the audience in stitches. Her impersonation of Cher and Britney Spears were timeless classics.

The layout of the stage was very simple; with the orchestra positioned along the back and Stephenson at the forefront of the stage. A slideshow projection was also used showing who Stephenson was impersonating; it was very simplistic, included spelling mistakes and cluttered formatting, which was disappointing to see at a professional show.

However, part way through the first act, there were some technical difficulties as the slideshow had stopped working. This didn’t affect Stephenson at all, but was quite distracting for the audience.

The second half of the show was filled with songs from the movies, again moving through the decades; Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, to revisiting some of the famous Bond girls; Shirley Bassey and Adele.

In-between the musical performances, Stephenson told the audience about her celebrity friends and the ‘emails’ that they had sent as to why they couldn’t make the show. Allowing her to recreate some of her favourite TV impressions, transforming herself into the likes of Anne Robinson, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, and Davina McCall.

Stephenson finished the show with one last musical number in which she called, Band Aid style. Singing the final number in each of the characters that we had been introduced to, throughout the night, saw Stephenson earn a well-deserved standing ovation.

A night full of laughter and many well-known names from one talented voice, she certainly made a good ‘impression.’

By Francesca Eagleton

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