Prinnie Stevens has been singing in major musicals since she was 17, and had numerous television appearances including the Voice. She has also had international experience mixing with top form artists in New York. It tells. She has enormous poise and charisma in her presentation, and her voice is clear, forthright and finely tuned. She is quite the match for the medley of 12 or so songs by females singers – Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and more. The show is not strictly a homage – she was closer to the actual style of Nina Simon than Amy Whinehouse. The show opens with Etta James ‘It’s a Man’s World’ and is unrelenting in its celebration of being female.
There is real power in her rendition, and you could hear the veritable pin drop for most of her show. She must have built up quite a following and reputation – Wharf 1 at the Sydney Theatre Company was decked out in cabaret style, was full and the tickets to cabaret area at least not cheap. The encore was shared sung with a friend – a splendid arrangement of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ by two singers on top of their game.
She interspersed songs with a feminist narrative of the struggles of being a woman, in particular an artist. She identified with the women whose songs she sung. The narrative was a little too forced – there were factors other than gender (class, race) at play with some of the women composers she sang. Prinnie on the other hand has every reason to be proud of her own accomplishments.
Her voice has developed from large musical production, with emphasis of loud and amplified singing. Her singing was a little loud for the Wharf 1 space, and there could have been more variety and range in the songs and their delivery. Christine Anu’s ‘My Island Home’ needed more depth.
The accompanying musicians – pianist Beau Golden, who was superb, and double bass player Ben Rogers – were a great pleasure to hear.
There is no doubt this was an audience pleaser. Some familiar songs were on show (e.g ‘Summertime’) and Prinnie is certainly capable of reaching out to lesser known material. However she is in full public gaze in this country and doing exceptionally well.
PRINNIE STEVENS : LADY SINGS THE BLUES played Wharf 1 Sydney Theatre Company on the 16th and 17th January 2024.