★ ★ ★ ★
Her jokes are hilarious, her vocals pitch perfect and her delivery of both immaculate.
The first thing to say about Jenny Bede's latest show The Musical is that I was blown away by her talents. Her jokes are hilarious, her vocals pitch perfect and her delivery of both immaculate.
At the age of 18 Jenny was part of noughties girlband Cherry Falls who were no threat to the likes of Sugababes or Mis-Teeq, but form a sub-narrative to this year's Edinburgh show. And make sure you don't leave before the end (not that you would) because you'll miss a real treat for fans of Cherry Falls, old and new.
But it's primarily her love of musical theatre which dictates the narrative for Jenny's third Fringe hour as she performs songs from some of the hundreds of musicals she's written in her year off. Musicals about the "range" of roles she's been offered since graduating from The Royal Academy of Music, a hilarious number about a haunting ex-wife ghost and a show-stealing rap about her blonde white friend who's unhappy about not being asked to audition for Hamilton - I know!
The lyrics to each of the songs are wonderfully witty, have been carefully constructed and match the ingenuity of recent hit shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
If you're a musical fan like myself, then great, this show will absolutely speak to you - but also if you're not a fan of the genre and know very little about musicals, I don't think that actually matters. It's difficult to not admire what Jenny is doing or at the very least laugh at the many gags packed into each song, both lyrically and physically.
Pitched as an audition for Sir Cameron Mackintosh - who happened to be sat in the front row (wink wink) - for me this was the weakest part. Used as a device to hold each of the songs together and give purpose to the narrative, the show didn't need it. I'd have been more than happy to sit there and watch Jenny sing fictional musical theatre songs without explanation. But that's only really a minor point.
The hour did leave me asking many questions though - Why isn't she performing on the West End stage? Why isn't she writing for television? Why is she stuck playing receptionists, PAs and girlfriends? And why aren't Cherry Falls still together? OK, that last one isn't quite true, but the rest absolutely are.
In the grand scheme of things, this is only Jenny's third Fringe show, but the industry would be remiss to ignore Jenny's talents and it's this show they should be looking to for evidence of that.
Jenny Bede: The Musical runs until 25th August at 5:05pm at Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Just the Cask Room). Book tickets here.