Jerry's Girls | Short Review

Jonathan Whiting
Thursday, May 23, 2024

'What we have here is nothing less than a tour de force of talent' – The revue show featuring numbers by legendary composer Jerry Herman is playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Images credit: Tristram Kenton
Images credit: Tristram Kenton

Against the giants of Jerry Herman’s output, Hello Dolly!, Mame, La Cage aux Folles – all stalwarts of the Musical Theatre canon – Jerry’s Girls is often overlooked. This cabaret-style revue features some of his most well-known numbers from those shows – ‘I Am What I Am’, ‘Hello, Dolly! and ‘Bosom Buddies’ – alongside songs from the lesser-known A Day in Hollywood and Dear World. In essence, Jerry’s Girls remains a joyous celebration of the Musical Theatre tradition which is so much more than the sum of its parts.

For this new production, the ever-versatile Menier Chocolate Factory finds itself transformed into a vaudevillian proscenium arch theatre, complete with footlights, red house tabs, and haze hanging in the air evoking cigarette smoke. It feels as if we have stepped back to that fabled Golden Age of Musical Theatre.

What we have here is nothing less than a tour de force of talent; the three leading ladies, Cassidy Janson, Jessica Martin and Julie Yammanee, are key to the production’s success. The quickfire pacing of number after number is immaculately maintained by their immense emotional, vocal and physical stamina. Despite no dialogue or overt exposition, we are presented with three working actors at a vaudeville-style venue. We meet them as they turn up in their dressing room, do their make-up, get into their costumes, and, over the course of the evening, we are given a glimpse into their lives both on- and offstage. Through their arguments, their laughter and their jealously, it’s their sisterhood-like camaraderie that is conveyed most strongly. All this is sublimely told through physical storytelling and acting through song. By the end we have fallen in love with these ladies, and the chemistry between them is palpable.

With a mix of trios, duets and solo numbers, all three ‘Jerry’s Girls’ stand their ground and add something different to the mix. Yammanee plays a sprightly young actress relishing in her youth and the attention she gets from her male admirers. Her glorious smile and energy in numbers such as ‘That’s How Young I Feel’ where she flaunts in front of her peers, is a joy to watch. As the cynical voice of reason, Cassidy Janson sings ‘Kiss Her Now’ from Dear World in a way that makes time stand still; from her warm vibrato to her theatre-filling belt, we are left hanging on her every word. Perfectly balancing out the trio is Jessica Martin’s motherly old-timer. Her trajectory over the show is perhaps the most effective and heartwarming; from initially feeling outcast because of her age – she is the butt of the joke in the striptease number ‘Take It All Off’ – she comes full circle, proudly exclaiming ‘I Am What I Am’ as she closes the door on all of us, ready to do it all again the next evening.

Special mention must go to the band under Music Director Sarah Travis; bar the keyboard/piano, the band is completely acoustic, which adds a rawness and an intimacy to the production. Travis’s orchestrations are incredibly versatile, often feeling much grander than a six-person band might typically sound.

The final number, ‘Jerry’s Girls’, celebrates all the luminary women who have graced the stage in a Herman musical, from Ethel Merman and Bea Arthur to Angela Lansbury and Carol Channing, culminating with the names Cassidy Janson, Jessica Martin and Julie Yammanee. That they have been added to this list of legends feels absolutely right here – it’s difficult to imagine this show being performed by anyone else.

Production Credits

Jerry's Girls

Menier Chocolate Factory, London, 22 May 2024

Starring Cassidy Janson, Jessica Martin and Julie Yammanee

Directed by Hannah Chissick 

Jerry's Girls runs until 29 June – for information and tickets, visit

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