Lorna's Spring Collection is as changing as the seasons

Review by Paul Nelson


IN SPITE of the moody lighting, black drapes, and the star presented in a bright scarlet outfit, Spring Collection, an evening of songs mainly about spring, emanates an air of camphor and lavender lace.

Lorna Dallas, an American entertainer living in London, is giving us her favourite songs about her favourite season, with a few add-ons that have also taken her fancy during her career.

She has archived quite a lot of material and the rarer numbers are welcomed. I suspect it will be a long time before we again hear her selection of hardly known songs cut from failed shows such as 'Spring Will Come Again', 'Fun To Be Fooled', 'Buds Won't Bud', 'Nuts In May', 'My Love is a Wanderer', and 'The Springtime Cometh'.

These hardly heard gems are well documented along with the shows they are from in the addenda to the programme. They are welcome and delightful.

Miss Dallas herself is a comely performer. In an extensive career, she must have a plethora of funny anecdotes, jocular insights regarding the people she has worked with, and bon mots she has heard bandied around during her life in the theatre.

Alas, she tells us none of these. Her evening, which she obviously enjoys as she laughs a lot as though we know something is going on with which we are in complete rapport (we are not), seems detached from the audience. The brittle is missing, the joy, the knowing wink.

In spite of the undoubted glamour she has at her fingertips, this lack of personal humour, makes the evening a grind, uphill all the way.

What fun there is in the evening comes from 'April in Fairbanks', from New Faces of 1956, and 'Nuts in May' from a 1921 Ivor Novello/PG Wodehouse show The Golden Moth.

In fact, she makes a point of telling us she adores Novello and digresses from the seasonal theme with 'Waltz of My Heart' and 'If Only He'd Looked My Way'.

The latter, from Gay's The Word, could well have been complemented with 'Bees are Buzzing' from the same show, which has the theme, 'it's spring and the sap is rising' which would have fitted well into the scheme of things.

Here, however, we are getting back to my old beef that when anybody does a musical compendium show with a theme, almost everybody in the audience thinks they have a better selection of songs.

On the plus side, and here I will stake almost everything because this is where the show comes alive and breaks hearts, it is unlikely you will hear a better rendition of Eric Maschwitz' 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square' or Fran Landesman's 'Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most'.

Both could have been written for Lorna Dallas so elegant and sincere is her rendition.

Overall Spring Collection is a collector's evening, one I would have been unhappy to miss. It does, however, need work.

Spring Collection, an evening of songs with Lorna Dallas. Directed by Barry Kleinbort. Musical Director Christopher Denny. Musical Arrangements by Christopher Denny and Barry Kleinbort. Presented at The Jermyn Street Theatre, Jermyn Street, 16 Jermyn Street, London SW1. 020 7287 2875.