The Star, Theatre Review. Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool.

Eithne Browne in The Star. Photograph by Robert Day.

Eithne Browne in The Star. Photograph by Robert Day.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Eithne Browne, Michelle Butterly, Helen Carter, Kevin Harvey, Danny O’Brien, Jack Rigby, Michael Starke.

Musicians: James Breckon, Elliot Chapman, Danny Miller.

Looking up into the Heavens, one can see the gallery of happy faces, the stars are there to perform, and they find no reason to ever stop beaming their light on the world below. For audiences making their way to the Playhouse this festive season, The Star is shining brightly and it is one that captures all that is good about modern theatre and the remarkable memory it invokes of hearing about the good old days of the music hall experience.

Over the years it has become impossible to be anything but intoxicated by Eithne Browne’s voice as she sings with deliberation and integrity, her ability to make you wipe away a tear of regret, of love for someone in the characters and roles she takes on and those ground down by life’s bitter smile; to not weep for the on stage persona and then within minutes laugh more heartily and with tremendous spirit is to deny yourself one of the great pleasures of life. An absolute treasure of the Liverpool theatre world, in her role as Ellen she excels to the point of being alongside that other great theatre creation Ann Twacky from Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels.

The songs, all good old fashioned Music Hall numbers but with the spark of personality that the 21st Century demands, were of the highest order and played out with great enthusiasm, numbers such as Leslie Sarony’s Ain’t It Grand To Be Bloomin’ Well Dead, Burlington Bertie, sang with masterful cool by Helen Carter, The Rest Of Your Days Your Own and the show stopper in Ms. Browne’s performance The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery, which didn’t just break the heart, it snapped it two and then set fire to the ashes before allowing the mystic magic of theatre to put the lovelorn pumper of blood back together for the fantastic finish of Waiting At The Church.

The Star, a history of Liverpool for the present day but framed with Michael Wynne’s perfect eye for detail and a cast that dominated the Playhouse stage. This is a tremendous way to finish off the year in theatre in Liverpool, a star is not only born, it has exploded into life in the heart of Williamson Square.

Ian D. Hall