By Jessica Walker
Directed by Lee Blakeley
Musical Director Joseph Atkins
Musical Arrangements by James Holmes
In Pat Kirkwood is Angry - a co-production with Opera North in association with the Manchester Royal Exchange - singer and writer Jessica Walker re-imagines the life and songs of Pat Kirkwood, the once stellar, but now forgotten British singer and actress, in a funny and heart-breaking new solo show.
Born in Salford in 1921, Kirkwood was named Britain’s first wartime star, aged only eighteen; she had shows written for her by Noel Coward and Cole Porter, was the highest paid entertainer in Britain in the 1940’s, and made famous songs such as My Heart Belongs to Daddy and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Recovering from a major nervous breakdown after her seven picture contract with MGM was cancelled after only one film, she rebuilt her career in Britain, first in variety, next becoming the first woman to have her own TV series on British television, but she soon became mired in the scandal surrounding an alleged affair with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, the repercussions of which were to haunt her right up to her death from Alzheimer’s in an Ilkley nursing home, in 2007. In 2010, after the death of her fourth husband, Peter Knight, letters from the Duke himself, addressed to Kirkwood, came to light, settling the truth about the affair once and for all…
In this witty but poignant look at the ephemeral nature of fame, Jessica’s dynamic stage presence and superlative singing will bring Pat Kirkwood’s story to life again, with the help of director Lee Blakeley’s inventive staging and MD Jim Holmes’s arrangements of some of the most beautiful popular songs of the 20th century.
"Walker, a gifted chanteuse." - The New Yorker
"Jessica Walker pays tribute to male impersonators in her winning show ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me" - New York Post
"Songs are exemplary of the genre. Both eclectic and iconic numbers take on a new light in context. The most genuine renditions I’ve heard of “After the Ball” may have been offered by Walker and Taylor Mac." - Woman Around Town
"Possessing a warm and inviting aura as well as talents and abilities as both singer and performer that are indisputable, Ms. Walker is a pleasure." - Stage and Cinema
"The 59E59 Theater does a great job of bringing unique performers to its occasional Cabaret venue, and they have hit another solid winner. It would be tragedy for me not to acknowledge a beautiful encore. Ms. Walker and Mr. Atkins did a fantastic job on Take Me Home – a little heard Tom Waits number from the little seen movie, One From The Heart. It was performed in a manner that left me a little breathless. Bravo’. - Reviews Off Broadway