Selected recent reviews, articles and interviews

 
 
                                              photo Caroline Michael

                                 

 Latest Reviews. All I Want is One Night New York:

 

'Delightful...The numbers are so good, in fact, that you wish there were more than the eight'. New York Times (critic's pick)

'It's the kind of rarefied experience you only get these days in New York after dark.' New York Observer

'It's a beautiful performance that changes to heartbreaking as Solidor ages without grace.' Woman Around Town

'Jessica Walker is an exceptional, multi-talented woman in her own right, as a playwright, translator, actress and singer. Not only has she brought Solidor to our overdue attention by penning All I Want Is One Night...but in doing so, she personally translated Solidor's songs from French to English and now is starring, as actress and singer, in this production...Walker is superb.' A Seat on the Aisle

 'On any level treading the edge of sexuality is risky and sexy. You'd think in 2018, nothing would be particularly unusual or shocking. The thrill of Jessica Walker's All I Want Is One Night is that she creates as a performer and playwright a world in which danger and glamour and delusion and talent are mixed altogether with commerce. And in that world circling like a haunted muse-she gives us a glimmer of Suzy Solidor'. Theatre Pizzazz

 'When the commanding Walker, with her silvery soprano, takes the stage, dressed like a Greek goddess who has condescended to come to earth and teach us humans a thing or two, all is well, indeed...All I Want is One Night has some attractively sexy and melancholy songs delivered by a singer who is a mistress of the form.' Lighting and Sound America

 'In her show All I Want is One Night, part of the Brits Off Broadway season at 59e59 Theaters, Jessica Walker, a favorite at 59e59, shines once more...a portrait of Solidor as a mesmerizing and extraordinary woman of her time beautifully emerges'. Blog Critics

'Solidor is all but forgotten today, but the immensely gifted singer and actress Jessica Walker may just rescue her from the footnotes of entertainment history'. Off off Online

'Walker is magnetic in her portrayal of Solidor. She is vivacious and yet tender, showcasing the complexity of Solidor as a performer, an openly bisexual lover, and a businesswoman in the fluctuating landscape of Jazz Age Paris through Nazi-occupied Vichy France. Not only is Walker the writer behind the dream-like theatrical portrait of Solidor, she also translated Suzy’s songs – sea, sex, and sailors indeed – from French into English, and performs them with all the boldness, sexiness, or sweetness that each song evokes. It’s a performance that Solidor herself would have been proud of'. Playstosee.com

 

Interview with Naomi Paxton at Out in South London about my work, February 2017:

https://www.mixcloud.com/OutInSouthLondon/jessica-walker-interviewed-by-naomi-paxton/ 

 Other recent reviews:

Penelope, Psappha Hallé St Peter's

Mancunian Matters 2017

'Lead vocalist Jessica Walker wonderfully tells the tale of the woman's journey into her partner's past' 

All I Want is One Night, Royal Exchange Theatre, Wilton's Music Hall, Hope Mill Theatre 

Out in South London 2017

'Dressed in an admiral's uniform, Walker commands the stage from the very beginning'

Everything Theatre 2017 

'Jessica Walker is one to watch, in my opinion. A technically-accomplished and intelligent performer, she has written a play with snappy dialogue and good jokes, and has translated Solidor's songs from French to English herself. The songs are pretty filthy, very funny, and at times very moving - mezzo-soprano Walker succeeds in pulling the heart and tenderness out when needed in order to tell the story'

North West End 2017 

'This one act non-stop cabaret act is a tour-de-force for Walker as she inhabits the stage and her role as Solidor absolutely'

Canal Street Online

'A fantastically filthy performance with phenomenal vocals from Jessica Walker'

The Stage  2016

'Walker certainly looks the part, her luminous androgynous appeal contrasting with the faded final years when the former sophisticate, dressed as an admiral, still wore frightful Harlot's Rouge lipstick and possessed enough lesbian libido to grope the maid. And Walker's vibrant mezzo-soprano is as commanding as it was in Pat Kirkwood is Angry at the Royal Exchange in 2012 and the cross-dressing tribute, The Girl I Left Behind Me, only here she brings a lively sensuous sparkle to Solidar's songs, performed in English for the first time, while recreating a gender-fluid performance milieu laced with fruity double-entendres'. 

(Jessica Walker's article about the play in Exeunt Magazine June 2016: http://exeuntmagazine.com/features/suzy-solidor-radical-solution-aging/)

 Unborn in America, The Vaults Festival

The Financial Times 2015

'Mezzo-soprano Jessica Walker, an equally talented singer and actress, is indefatigable as the foetus, bringing charisma to the role and wringing the libretto for every scrap of humour'.

 Adelaide Festival  with Gavin Bryars. Mercy and Grand - the Tom Waits project 2015
Limelight magazine

'Opening dramatically with dynamic tango A Little Drop of Poison, Jess Walker, ahead of the Bryars-led ensemble chiming in on chorus, owned the stage. With maximum sass she performed a cracking selection of Waits/Brennan; these fabulous lyrical tales well told, and consummately performed'. 

BWW classical.com 

'Jess Walker slipped effortlessly between the roles of Mezzo Soprano and Hooker from Minneapolis. It was utterly brilliant'.

Realtime Magazine

'In this set, Gavin Bryars introduced us to the superb mezzo soprano Jess Walker who evocatively rendered the tragedy of life that permeates these songs'.

 A link to the wonderful Charles Isherwood review in the New York Times, for The Girl I Left Behind Me at Brits off Broadway 2013:

http://theater.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/theater/reviews/the-girl-i-left-behind-me-at-59e59-theaters.html?_r=4&  

 Other reviews from the Brits off Broadway run:

The New Yorker

 'Walker, a gifted chanteuse.'

 New York Post

'Jessica Walker pays tribute to male impersonators in her winning show 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'

Woman Around Town

  '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. Have you ever really listened to the wrenching lyric'
 

 'Ella Shields did her last tour at age seventy-three. Interestingly, Walker chooses to portray this time in her life. Thus, we watch the familiar "Burlington Bertie From Bow", written for Shields by her husband of 39 years, as if performed by a jaunty, but stiff and tired actress. A far cry from Julie Andrews kicking up her heels as Gertrude Lawrence in Star (the usual interpretation), the rendition is a bit like Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer'.

 Stage and Cinema
 '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'.
 

Reviews off Broadway

 'The 59E59 Theater does a great job of bringing unique performers to its occasional Cabaret venue, and they have hit another solid winner with The Girl I Left Behind Me'. 

  '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'.

 

Praise for Pat Kirkwood is Angry at Brits off Broadway 2014:

 Charles Isherwood, New York Times

'A spell-binding cabaret show at the 59E59 Theaters written by and starring the gifted singer Jessica Walker…Ms Walker's resplendent mezzo-soprano brings a bright lustre to the dozen or so songs in the show…Should Kirkwood be looking down from the showbiz heavens, she would be anything but riled by Ms Walker's warm, evocative consideration of her career: a loving tribute from one singular talent to another'

Theater Pizzazz
'A slim, vibrant mezzo-soprano and compelling storyteller'
The People's Critic  
'Jessica Walker's lovely musical memoir of the star's life and career…But enough about Miss Kirkwood, - let us turn to the immense talent of Miss Walker as she deftly guides us on this intriguing journey. Not only is her original script a carefully crafted and fascinating exploration of this little-known saga, but also, thanks to her beautiful singing voice, the show comprises a virtual smorgasbord of wonderful songs associated with Kirkwood, and skilfully inserted in this production to gently guide the advancing plot'
 

Lighting&Sound America

'Walker, a powerful soprano with a commanding stage presence and a piercing intelligence, rivets one's attention… If Pat Kirkwood is angry, she is never dull, not even for a minute, and Walker's show casts a fascinating light on an under-appreciated talent'

 Front Row Centre

'Walker has a stunning voice that she knows exactly how to use… Walker delivers the goods musically speaking… Guess Who I Saw Today by Murray Grand and Elisse Boyd- a song that is over performed and often bludgeoned - is delivered with such simplicity that your heart cracks into a bazillion little pieces on the spot. And her Begin The Beguine is steeped in pathos so deep you can feel it all the way down to your toes. Walker weaves serious magic when she sings'

Life Upon The Sacred Stage

 'Angry or sunny, Walker knows how to deliver a song with the right emotion… I enjoyed every song she sang - her voice is exquisite… Learning about Kirkwood's life is interesting, but listening to Walker, who has sung roles across Europe, is even better'

Praise for other recent performances of Pat Kirkwood is Angry:
'Kirkwood is MASTERFULLY portrayed by the fantastic mezzo-soprano Jessica Walker... what an INCREDIBLE voice - from huge ballads such as MY KIND OF MAN, to the hilarious HOLD IT JOE, Walker's voice SOARS. Her connection with the audience is undeniable. She really is a HUGE TALENT.' * * * * The Good Review
 

'...A tour de force, enthralling throughout...Jessica Walker brings the woman behind the songs to life' WalesArtsReview.org

 'Walker's concise storytelling is FUNNY, ENGAGING and WITTY.' * * * *  The Public Reviews

 

Praise for An Eye for an Eye by David Knotts and Jessica Walker at the 2013 Bath festival:

'A brilliant little cabaret opera…mirthfully macabre music theatre…it was a joy.' Michael White The Daily Telegraph 

 

The Girl I Left Behind Me 2010

Purcell Room, London
Reviewed by Maddy Costa. The Guardian ****
'In a trim tuxedo, with hair slicked back, Walker looks strikingly like Marc Almond, bringing her own layer of gender ambiguity to proceedings. She can be ribald, not least in her inspired collation of songs tracing the career of a roué called Johnny, and she sparkles every time she narrates a tale of real-life lesbian love. But she also movingly conveys the pathos of these women's lives: their desperate disavowal of "mannish" women, their confusion at receiving love letters from other women. Fans then were as inscrutable as the performers - although, watching Walker, you appreciate what fun they had.'

Reviewed by Paul Taylor The Independent ****
'Informed by the lovely pure voice and wittily knowing personality of the mezzo-soprano opera singer and cross-over artist Jessica Walker, this 80-minute piece is a drolly celebratory yet also piercingly poignant one-woman guide to a neglected chapter in showbiz and lesbian history.
A glamorous, boyish figure with her slickly cropped hair and her white tie and tails, Walker conjures up, through "sixteen-and-a-half songs", such now-forgotten spirits of music-hall "trouser-dom" as Vesta Tilley (1864-1952), Ella Shields (1879-1952) and the American male impersonator Ella Wesner (1841-1917), who learned the tricks of the trade while acting as dresser to Annie Hindle (born 1847). James Holmes pounds the ivories with panache as Walker resurrects songs from the melodious repertoires of these women...This show is not to be missed'.

At the Howard Assembly Room, Opera North
The Yorkshire Post****
Walker's rich mezzo soprano was equally suited to snippets of Mozart and Strauss as it was to risqué music hall numbers as she evoked cross-dressers from opera to vaudeville. Her singing talent was complemented by the storytelling skills of a true soubrette. She was particularly spiffing as a squiffy toff.

 

Reviews Mercy and Grand CD

The Times Richard Morrison 21/04/12 ****

'Superbly sung by the pure-voiced English Mezzo Jess Walker'

Reviews Mercy and Grand Spitalfields Music Winter Festival

The Guardian Tim Ashley **** 15/12/11

'The vocalist is mezzo Jessica Walker, a slinky, flame-haired androgyne in tux and boots, looking as if she might have strayed from some Weimar Republic dive. Walker makes no attempt to replicate Waits's own famously gravelly delivery. She sings, however, with terrific passion, gliding with ease from the sardonic Little Drop of Poison to the knowing bitterness of Weill's Ballad of Sexual Dependency, and doing heartbreaking things with Whistle down the Wind and Georgia Lee.'

Adam Sweeting Daily Telegraph15/12/11 ****

'Waits…gravelly bark was replaced in Shoreditch Church by Jessica Walker's agile and dramatic mezzo soprano.'

'Walker squeezing soulfulness from the plaintive lyric.'

Michael Church The Independent 19/12/11 ****

'Walker may be primarily an opera singer, but her cabaret instinct is wonderfully sure: she took command of the proceedings from the moment she sauntered up the aisle, and held us riveted from the outset with 'Little Drop of Poison.' Her warm clean sound may be a million miles from Waits's growl, but she evoked wintry pathos with 'Alice' and 'Whistle Down the Wind' just as effectively; Weill's 'The Ballad of Sexual Dependency' never sounded more bleak.'

 

Tete a Tete Opera Festival 2011

"Accompanied by a combo of oboe, cello and percussion, Jessica Walker stylishly incarnated one of the unborn as a slinky cabaret star." - Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph

 

 

The Coronation Of Poppea, OperaUpClose 2011

 "Jessica Walker's Nero gleams and suggests a searching mind gone wrong. [Her] final duet is wondrous." - Kieron Quirke,Evening Standard *****

 

"...Jessica Walker, a Nero of swaggering charisma." - Hannah Nepil, Financial Times

 

 

Link to Interview with Lyn Gardner The Guardian 2010:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/may/13/cross-dressing-women-musical-theatre