TAKING our seats for the opening night performance of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice was like walking into a proper entertainments club for years gone by.

There was a compere warming the audience up, along with a couple of very brief acts, and even a raffle to get the audience in the mood. By the time the lights went down the room was ready for a good time.

The show tells the tale of Little Voice, who struggles to speak but comes to life when singing (and impersonating perfectly) the songs of her diva idols, all the while being pushed and pulled in all directions by her overbearing mother Mari, and the coniving Ray Say.

Beverley Callard (as Mari) puts in a brilliant performance, stealing the show from almost every other member of the cast. She has found the perfect balance between the comedy of the piece and the emotion which runs through it.

Her interation with almost mute best friend Sadie (played by Sally Plumb) had the crowd in fits of laughter as the two gyrated their way around the stage during a dance number.

Comedian Duggie Brown drew plenty of laughs with the bad jokes of Mr Boo, Simon Thorp oozed sleaze as Ray Say and Ray Quinn embodied the mild-mannered Billy, who looks out for the best interests of LV.

The star turn of the however came from newcomer Jess Robinson (as Little Voice) when she performed as various songtresses, including Judy Garland, Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey and many more. Each impersonation was done to a tee, not only vocally but physically too.

It was an ideal cast - but as they were handpicked by the playwright that comes as little surprise.

If you like the film, which starred Jane Horrocks, you will enjoy this production.