REVIEW: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Kings Theatre, Southsea, until Saturday, March 16.

Jess Robinson soars as Little Voice, head and shoulders above a cast which was distinctly ho-hum.

Little Voice sits at home, listening to her late father’s old records, picking up every last intonation in the singing styles of all the greats from Marilyn Monroe to Shirley Bassey, from Judy Garland to Edith Piaf.

And that’s when hapless talent scout Ray Say picks her up and tries to turn her into a star - without once considering what Little Voice herself might want.

The highlight is a terrific sequence in which Little Voice beats him away with a torrent of song clips, an astonishing tour de force from Robinson who slips effortlessly from one great chanteuse to another in a matter of moments.

The trouble for the production, however, is that Robinson’s brilliance simply underlines the gulf between her and everyone else on stage.

Each half begins with a lame attempt at working men’s club type banter; both halves leave you wondering whether you haven’t actually wandered into village hall amdram.

Beverley Callard brings all the requisite vulgarity to the part of Little Voice’s mum, but somewhere in there, there really ought to be a poignancy that she doesn’t manage to find. Instead, her double act with her monosyllabic chubby neighbour is all a bit of a yawn.

Thanks goodness then for Robinson who does exactly what Little Voice is supposed to do in the story, rising above the mediocrity all around her.

Phil Hewitt