Chemistry's right for a fond farewell

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 1995, 12:00am

PAM Butler, queen of the Hong Kong am-dram scene, gave her last performance, her grand finale.

After 24 years as one of the territory's most enthusiastic thespians she has notched up a number of productions and a whole Hollywood production of anecdotes. Now before she made her exit for London, she treated us to some of her favourites.

She provided a glass of champagne and a touch of jazz, the cabaret artist and elegant host. It was a trip down memory lane filled with nostalgia for Broadway hits; the relaxed sophistication couched in homeliness.

Pam's comfortable here, in her leotard and dance shoes - and anyway most of the audience were probably old friends; certainly she and Hong Kong stages are and this was her farewell to those floorboards.

She's had her share of showbiz blues, and can now afford the luxury of her own doting toyboy manservant enslaved on stage. But Butler is no blushing bride or broadway babe doing the auditions rounds, although she does such caricatures with charm. She's humorous about ageing and relates with relish that 80s pain of fitness fanatics and Jane Fonda antics.

She gave an animated performance and there was an air of the pantomime which probably explained the list of children's musicals in her repertoire. A reel of home movie-style clippings gave a taste of Fiddler on the Roof, Aladdin, Dick Wittington and Cinderella.

Proving her versatility, there were love songs and sentimental moments, dance routines and jokes. Butler went through a series of scenarios while her 'personal trainer' packed her costume changes in the trunk of the backdrop caravan.

All this from a chemistry teacher. Bet you wished you had been her pupil. You can imagine what a theatrical production chemistry classes must have been.

This was Butler's last lesson in the chemistry of music. It was a warm production that didn't try to be much more. Her voice was pleasant and the material familiar. If perhaps it felt a little staid it's because it's been done but, like Grant, it's still there.

Pam Butler in Been There, Done That, Movin' On, Breakaleg Company. Fringe Theatre, March 11.