Issy van Randwyck is the writer and performer of Dazzling Divas, which will play at The Mill at Sonning this month.
Dazzling Divas is a mesmerising musical journey illuminating the lives and work of legendary performers Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield. Seven trailblazing women whose lives lit up the world and whose influences continue to this day. Relive their music and stories, each one as extraordinary as the next in one magical evening.
Issy van Randwyck is a triple Olivier Award nominee most recently seen in ‘The Boyfriend’ at the Menier Chocolate Factory, ‘Hay Fever’ at the Mill at Sonning and in the film ‘Blithe Spirit’ with Dame Judi Dench.
She was a member of the satirical cabaret group Fascinating Aida. Her many recordings include ‘The Glory of Gershwin’ with Larry Adler produced by George Martin.
Dazzling Divas is at The Mill at Sonning 20 July – 29 July.
You’re brining Dazzling Divas to The Mill at Sonning, what can you tell us about the show?
‘Dazzling Divas’ is a show about seven women who blazed a trail through the music and entertainment industries – Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield – all who died too young but the impact and legacy they left behind still burns bright today.
What inspired you to create the show?
In some way I have been building up to this moment all my life. The first cassette I ever bought was “Now and Then” by The Carpenters; I recorded a hi-Eeergy version of the Mamas and the Papas song “California Dreaming” with Midnight Shift when I was at Madam Jojo’s which stayed at No 1 in the Hi Energy charts for about 17 weeks – well it said so in the Pink Paper so it had to be true; I portrayed Marilyn Monroe in a one woman show up at the Edinburgh Festival called “Becoming Marilyn”; Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” was a song I performed at Madam Jojo’s in the first show I did there – club hostess Ruby Venezuela had me singing it in a straightjacket….
What was it about these seven performers that have influenced you and your career?
I think they ‘informed’ me. In the words of Richard Carpenter and John Bettis and sung so beautifully by Karen Carpenter “When I was young I’d listen to the radio, waiting’ for my favourite song, when they played I’d sing along, it made me smile … it’s yesterday once more.”
How did you go about curating the show and deciding what to include?
It started with the women and their stories. There were some songs that I had to include such as ‘Strange Fruit’ (Billie Holiday). Some of the songs that I have always loved didn’t fit in with the narrative so I had to find songs that each artist had sung that would make sense within the context of the show.
And there will be some stories about each of the performers too, won’t there?
Absolutely, be prepared to laugh and cry, remembering each one of these amazing women who left an indelible mark on the world.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Dazzling Divas?
Don’t forget to bring your hanky, you may need it.
‘Dazzling Divas’ is at The Mill at Sonning Theatre, 20 July – 29 July. All tickets include a delicious two-course meal in the venue’s restaurant before the show. www.millatsonning.com