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Flora is a hit

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:10 03 March 2010

Flora the Red Menace

The Gallery Players at the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich

Until July 6



WHEN Liza Minnelli stepped out of the obscurity of being Judy Garland's daughter to premiere the lead in this Kander and Ebb hit, you would not have thought she could've been bettered.

Flora the Red Menace

The Gallery Players at the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich

Until July 6

WHEN Liza Minnelli stepped out of the obscurity of being Judy Garland's daughter to premiere the lead in this Kander and Ebb hit, you would not have thought she could've been bettered.

But Shelley Clempson fills her enormous boots of talent to the brim.

She spreads warmth with every crinkle of her animated face into smiles, which break out often, and tears that quite movingly flow just the once.

As the eternally optimistic Flora, she lifts the soul with a simply fantastic voice that flares through any gloom you would expect to envelop a play set in 1935, Depression-hit New York.

Yet the whole marvellous company of nine – as well as Joe Cleary on piano - triumph in a whirligig of colour and song as they face the music and dance. And I mean dance.

Steve and Pat Taplin made sure that the moves, the pace and the tightly held ensemble of the piece wasn't just slick, it was stand alone brilliant.

Flora is a fashion illustrator who falls for Communist member and stuttering, struggling artist, Harry Toukarian. Flora is a dynamo of good heartedness and principle. She's party gal but not Harry's kind of party. Simon Bowen capably matches Clempson's entrancing performance.

Of the supporting roles, Samantha Horsfield's die-hard Charlotte, who proves that even Bolsheviks like lacy undies, is chortingly indelible. She seduces the hapless Harry with the energy and sensitivity of a Stalinist purge. Hilarious. This show has everything - so don't miss it.

JFA

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