Theatre Review: Kathleen Turner FINDING MY VOICE – The Lowry, Salford

Kathleen Turner FINDING MY VOICE

Hollywood legend Kathleen Turner shares stories from her career with songs from the American Songbook in FINDING MY VOICE

To say I was excited to watch Kathleen Turner, one of my childhood movie icons, perform a solo show in such an intimate setting as The Lowry‘s Quays Theatre is a mammoth understatement. Opening with an audio montage of some of her most famous movie lines, including the iconic Jessica Rabbit, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way!”, the excitement in the theatre builds even before she hits the stage. When she finally does, the crowd is already whooping and cheering. 

Kathleen Turner is one of Hollywood’s biggest names. Following her breakout performance in BODY HEAT in 1981, Turner has starred in countless box office smashes such as ROMANCING THE STONE, PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED and, of course, as the husky voice of Jessica Rabbit in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. Younger fans may also remember her in the comical role of Chandler’s Dad in the 90s sitcom FRIENDS. Here, Turner remembers David Crane pulling her to one side and offering her the part, “A woman, playing a man, playing a woman, I’ve never done that before, I’LL DO IT!”

Turner’s latest show, FINDING MY VOICE, sees the Hollywood legend share her new found love for music by singing classics from The American Songbook. When first moving from London to New York and asked if she could sing, Turner’s response was always a resounding “No, that’s never gonna be me!” Appearing on stage in the West End and on Broadway, she has earned accolades for her performances including a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF but it wasn’t until Molly Smith challenged her to sing and take the part of MOTHER COURAGE that we were introduced to her musical talent.

Turner’s solo show came off the back of her working relationship with musical director Andy Gale. After the show MOTHER COURAGE, she wanted to carry on singing and to see where it took her. Here, Turner shares stories from throughout her life and career, linking it to songs that she loves. Starting off at the beginning of her career, Turner shares the story of her first job, moving from a Manhattan waitress to the leading lady, before performing IT’S ONLY A PAPER MOON which she tells us is all about building a world that you truly believe in. When the job offers finally begin to roll in and her success story is building, WHEREVER I LAY MY HAT is belted out. As she’s travelling, on the road away from friends and family and feeling the tug of homesickness, she sings my favourite song of the night SWEET KENTUCKY HAM.

Turner’s stories are delivered in her usual ‘I wear the pants’ manner. This is a very personal account of her career, which has spanned four decades, a fact which we are told we “better damn well applaud” and we do. Tales about her family upbringing across the globe are truly are heart-warming, others are very funny indeed, such as her reaction to Francis Ford Coppola’s request as to whether it would be OK to direct her performances on the set of PEGGY SUE from the confines of his trailer using screen footage and a walkie-talkie to his first assistant, which had her respond, “No problem, you direct in yours, I’ll go act in mine!”

A portion of the show is lent to the current state of affairs and politics in her country. A staunch activist, Turner gives her best take on the current US administration, provoking the tune YOU’VE GOTTA BE TAUGHT and a rendition of BROTHER CAN YOU SPEND A DIME which she performs with such gusto and had me thinking this could have been written in Trump’s America.

Throughout the show, the quality of her vocals does tend to vary but any faults are laid by the wayside as everybody enjoys the entirety of the show. Turner’s storytelling prowess is sheer brilliance and she always had that comedy timing that no amount of practice can achieve.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Kathleen Turner FINDING MY VOICE performed at The Lowry on 8 May 2018.