Theatre Review: Whitney: Queen of the Night @ New Theatre Oxford
by Evie Bennett
As I write this review I am listening to Whitney belting the classic ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ and I am transported back to a blissful fantasy of partying, bright lights, sparkle and emotion of Whitney: Queen of the Night. A true celebration of the life and music of the legend Whitney Houston; this is a symphony of sound, light and elaborate costumes that awakens all the senses.
The singers had us up on our feet dancing and singing soulfully away. The rendition of ‘My Love is Your Love’ was almost pantomimic with the girls competing to sing louder than the boys and even one audience member being picked out for a rendition with Whitney’s imitator herself.
The costumes were gorgeously glamorous, to the point where I was more excited about what costume was coming next than what song was.
Decadent outfits of floor-length sequin dresses, tops and trousers peppered with spangle and shimmer, and glossy gleaming disco pants had me longing to replicate them at my upcoming Christmas parties this year; I will certainly be digging out my disco-pants again!
Shanice Smith as Whitney Houston delivered a heartfelt and sensitive performance; her powerful vocals were juxtaposed with her soft disposition that lured the audience into a dream world where you could sing at the top of your voice and throw shapes like no-one was watching, and this audience certainly did and they certainly knew how to party which made the performance even more extraordinary.
The chemistry created on stage by the vocalists and musical performers was sensational; it was like one big girls night out albeit with a few male chaperones for good measure. Smith’s ability to let everyone steal the limelight, despite being the obvious star of the show, was captivating and only added to the party atmosphere.
I revelled in every rendition of Whitney’s greatest hits, and was truly touched by the choice of the last song. In a world where there is so much pressure on finding love in another person, with so much anxiety, shame and self-deprecation undercutting modern society, it brought a tear to my eye to hear the serenades of ‘The Greatest Love of All’ end the performance, providing a critically important message of self-love and affirmation; something we all need reminding of.