The Dorothy Squires Story
|The Dorothy Squires Story Reviews|
Hungerford review July 08..".Gerri Smith, ably supported by Ian Michael Thomas on the piano, brought Squires back to life again with her dynamic portrayal of the Squires style and songs."
"A terrific performance in which Gerri Smith captures perfectly the throaty, lachrymose quality of her vocal style"
..... Paul Maloney .....The Stage
"The one woman performance by Gerri Smith will be the closest you will get to the real thing .. Gerrie epitomised the legendary star"
..... Rhiannon Beacham ..... South Wales Argus
"Smith gives a convincing performance"
..... The Scotsman .....
"Gerri Smith is on sparling form"
..... Phil Gibby .....
"Terrific Performance by Gerri Smith"
..... Channel Four .....
A Full review of Dolman Theatre Newport
Controversial Dorothy Squires play has its grand Finale in Wales
Last night was the final chance to see the controversial play telling the warts-and-all story of singer Dorothy Squires whose turbulent life included marrying former James Bond star Roger Moore.
The Dorothy Squires Story has toured the country since it was first shown to the public at the Edinburgh Festival in August 1998 under the title Glitz, Glamour on the Road to Hell.
The performance instantly raised eyebrows for what its creators say was its "honest" portrayal of the real Dorothy Squires, offending in particular the Squires family and Esme Coles who had taken Squires in to her Rhondda home for the last three years of her life, until she died aged 83 in April last year.
Over the past 15 months the one-man show has battled through the controversy, winning over the critics, to arrive for its grand finale at the Dolman Theatre in Newport.
This was a fitting place to wind up the tour since the theatre is where Cardiff actress Gerri Smith, who plays Squires, first began her acting career as part of the Playgoers Society.
Smith said she had always been a huge fan of Dorothy Squires as her mother loved her music. But she had seen her heroine only once live on stage in 1969
"She was absolutely stunning. She was incredibly glamorous and it was a very memorable occasion. I just read and read about her after that," said Ms Smith.
When Smith found out that Squires's glittering career had ended with her being penniless and reliant on the goodwill of friends and fans, she decided the almost unbelievable story really deserved to be told. She found a writer for the play in Mark Ryan, and with her playing Squires under the direction of Chris Morgan, the show was born. But instant controversy flared up around the performance. Smith said that was partly because Squires had died only shortly before the play hit the stage. But she also thinks that many Squires fans were simply shocked by such an honest portrayal.
"They didn't want anything detrimental said about her, but I wasn't going to do that. I wanted just to chronicle her life and tell her story.
Esme Coles did not see the play until it was performed in London. Afterwards Smith said she received a letter from her expressing her disappointment.
"She objected to the fact that I mentioned details of her life in the story, and I withdrew these references from the play. But in her opinion I should not have portrayed Dorothy the way I did, with her colourful language, but it was a true reflection."
"Esme Coles did live with Dorothy for three years, but Dorothy was an old lady by that time and very different from the person she had been: her lifestyle wasn't the same as it had been in her heyday in the '50s and '60s."
Having played the character of Squires on stage for some months now, Smith has found out a lot about this celebrated singer, who rose from rags to riches, back to rags again.
Smith said, "I have heard that she was very difficult to live with, with colourful language, but she was also a very loyal and humorous and generous lady. Those people who knew her well seem to have adored her." Ray Stone, manager of the Dolman Theatre said he had no qualms about the show whatsoever.
"We are pleased to be providing a venue for the performance," he said.
LOCAL GIRL ENJOYS BEING EMBODIMENT OF LOCAL HERO
She stand there, sugar-pink boa and silver-haired wig, belting out My Way in front of the red velvet curtains - Dorothy Squires before a sell out London Palladium audience in 1970 or Gerri Smith at the Dolman Theatre, Newport?
Just who was the audience cheering last night, the memory of a tough, even cantankerous, cookie from South Wales who had to hire the palladium herself for her comeback or a vivacious and talented actress from South Wales who can do just about everything from Chekov to Murder Mystery nights?
For the fans, Dorothy Squires is Gerri Smith and Gerri Smith certainly is Dorothy Squires in this one-woman show (to call it a tribute is to miss the subtitles of Mark Ryan's script about a performer best known not for her hits but for her tempestuous life and an incredibly loyal fan club).
Ms Smith manages to mimic Dorothy Squires's distinctive voice, a product of interwar American vocal styles and the demands of British dance-band repertoire - and project that ambiguous image of an icon somewhere between Judy Garland and Dusty Springfield.
Were it not for Gerri Smith's performance, I suspect that to we ordinary punters this would seem not much more than a rather uncritical biography that only scratches the surface of a complex character, a Valleys girl who could swear and drink but who held her ground despite being a fool for love and getting more than her share of bad press. And the Newport audience? They knew and loved the bizarre Dorothy Squires but last night they were at the Dolman to applaud Gerri Smith, the other local girl who made good in the theatre where she started out as an amateur with the Newport Playgoers.
But even Ms Smith looked like she had metamorphosed into the spirit of Dorothy Squires as she belted out the programme of that palladium concert as the climax to the night.
And she promised fans, who had travelled from as far as John O'Groats, she will do it again as a cabaret show.
You can book a guest appearance in concert or cabaret, simply ring Gerri on 01633 896111.