‘Tonight,’ promises Elouise, ‘is one of big numbers, big attitude and even bigger hair.’ And she certainly isn’t telling fibs. With her own interpretations of the greatest showstopping numbers, Little Belter is a chance to hear iconic songs delivered with equal passion as their original performers. What prevents ths show from becoming cruise ship entertainment however, is the star herself. Humble, bubbly and engaging, it’s hard not to warm to Elouise as she explains between each song how powerful divas such as Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand had her singing away into her Mum’s curling tongs as a child, giving her the eponymous nickname, ‘Little Belter’.
Performed in the intimate, old-school setting of Madame JoJo’s, Little Belter harks back to an age without autotune but with plenty of sequins and style. With each well-known song lovingly introduced, there would be a danger of Elouise’s enthusiasm becoming exhausting, but her interpretations stand apart through her roof-raising voice. Performances of original material penned by Terry Ronald and Steve Anderson seamlessly fit in among the likes of ‘Diamonds are Forever’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. There are also a couple of modern classics given the Elouise treatment – ‘Tainted Love’ and, more excitingly, a cover of Lady GaGa’s ‘Born This Way‘, which managed to turn a thumping anthem into a confessional torch song: something I honestly didn’t think would work and on which I was pleased to be proved wrong.
With each of the two acts running at just under an hour, my only criticism would be that the the interval felt slightly too long, having had such brilliant momentum built up beforehand. Aside from this minor quibble, the overall show itself is fantastic. As well as Elouise, her two sleek backing singers, pianist and fireman (you’ll have to see for yourself!) provide the perfect evening’s entertainment if you fancy a sophisticated blast from the past.
Little Belter‘s residency at Madame JoJo’s continues on Sunday 17 April & Wednesday 18 May