Selected recent reviews and interviews
A link to the wonderful Charles Isherwood review in the New York Times, for The Girl I Left Behind Me at Brits off Broadway 2013:
Other reviews from the Brits off Broadway run:
The New Yorker
'Walker, a gifted chanteuse.'
New York Post
'Jessica Walker pays tribute to male impersonators in her winning show 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'
Woman Around Town
'Ella Shields did her last tour at age seventy-three. Interestingly, Walker chooses to portray this time in her life. Thus, we watch the familiar "Burlington Bertie From Bow", written for Shields by her husband of 39 years, as if performed by a jaunty, but stiff and tired actress. A far cry from Julie Andrews kicking up her heels as Gertrude Lawrence in Star (the usual interpretation), the rendition is a bit like Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer'.
Reviews off Broadway
'The 59E59 Theater does a great job of bringing unique performers to its occasional Cabaret venue, and they have hit another solid winner with The Girl I Left Behind Me'.
Praise for Pat Kirkwood is Angry at Brits off Broadway 2014:
Charles Isherwood, New York Times
‘A spell-binding cabaret show at the 59E59 Theaters written by and starring the gifted singer Jessica Walker…Ms Walker’s resplendent mezzo-soprano brings a bright lustre to the dozen or so songs in the show…Should Kirkwood be looking down from the showbiz heavens, she would be anything but riled by Ms Walker’s warm, evocative consideration of her career: a loving tribute from one singular talent to another’
‘Walker, a powerful soprano with a commanding stage presence and a piercing intelligence, rivets one's attention… If Pat Kirkwood is angry, she is never dull, not even for a minute, and Walker's show casts a fascinating light on an under-appreciated talent’
Front Row Centre
‘Walker has a stunning voice that she knows exactly how to use… Walker delivers the goods musically speaking… Guess Who I Saw Today by Murray Grand and Elisse Boyd– a song that is over performed and often bludgeoned – is delivered with such simplicity that your heart cracks into a bazillion little pieces on the spot. And her Begin The Beguine is steeped in pathos so deep you can feel it all the way down to your toes. Walker weaves serious magic when she sings’
‘Angry or sunny, Walker knows how to deliver a song with the right emotion… I enjoyed every song she sang – her voice is exquisite… Learning about Kirkwood’s life is interesting, but listening to Walker, who has sung roles across Europe, is even better’
'...A tour de force, enthralling throughout...Jessica Walker brings the woman behind the songs to life' WalesArtsReview.org
Praise for An Eye for an Eye by David Knotts and Jessica Walker at the 2013 Bath festival:
'A brilliant little cabaret opera…mirthfully macabre music theatre…it was a joy.' Michael White The Daily Telegraph
The Girl I Left Behind Me 2010
Purcell Room, London
Reviewed by Maddy Costa. The Guardian ****
'In a trim tuxedo, with hair slicked back, Walker looks strikingly like Marc Almond, bringing her own layer of gender ambiguity to proceedings. She can be ribald, not least in her inspired collation of songs tracing the career of a roué called Johnny, and she sparkles every time she narrates a tale of real-life lesbian love. But she also movingly conveys the pathos of these women's lives: their desperate disavowal of "mannish" women, their confusion at receiving love letters from other women. Fans then were as inscrutable as the performers - although, watching Walker, you appreciate what fun they had.'
Reviewed by Paul Taylor The Independent ****
'Informed by the lovely pure voice and wittily knowing personality of the mezzo-soprano opera singer and cross-over artist Jessica Walker, this 80-minute piece is a drolly celebratory yet also piercingly poignant one-woman guide to a neglected chapter in showbiz and lesbian history.
A glamorous, boyish figure with her slickly cropped hair and her white tie and tails, Walker conjures up, through "sixteen-and-a-half songs", such now-forgotten spirits of music-hall "trouser-dom" as Vesta Tilley (1864-1952), Ella Shields (1879-1952) and the American male impersonator Ella Wesner (1841-1917), who learned the tricks of the trade while acting as dresser to Annie Hindle (born 1847). James Holmes pounds the ivories with panache as Walker resurrects songs from the melodious repertoires of these women...This show is not to be missed'.
At the Howard Assembly Room, Opera North
The Yorkshire Post****
Walker's rich mezzo soprano was equally suited to snippets of Mozart and Strauss as it was to risqué music hall numbers as she evoked cross-dressers from opera to vaudeville. Her singing talent was complemented by the storytelling skills of a true soubrette. She was particularly spiffing as a squiffy toff.
Reviews Mercy and Grand CD
The Times Richard Morrison 21/04/12 ****
'Superbly sung by the pure-voiced English Mezzo Jess Walker'
Reviews Mercy and Grand Spitalfields Music Winter Festival
The Guardian Tim Ashley **** 15/12/11
'The vocalist is mezzo Jessica Walker, a slinky, flame-haired androgyne in tux and boots, looking as if she might have strayed from some Weimar Republic dive. Walker makes no attempt to replicate Waits's own famously gravelly delivery. She sings, however, with terrific passion, gliding with ease from the sardonic Little Drop of Poison to the knowing bitterness of Weill's Ballad of Sexual Dependency, and doing heartbreaking things with Whistle down the Wind and Georgia Lee.'
Adam Sweeting Daily Telegraph15/12/11 ****
'Waits…gravelly bark was replaced in Shoreditch Church by Jessica Walker's agile and dramatic mezzo soprano.'
'Walker squeezing soulfulness from the plaintive lyric.'
Michael Church The Independent 19/12/11 ****
'Walker may be primarily an opera singer, but her cabaret instinct is wonderfully sure: she took command of the proceedings from the moment she sauntered up the aisle, and held us riveted from the outset with 'Little Drop of Poison.' Her warm clean sound may be a million miles from Waits's growl, but she evoked wintry pathos with 'Alice' and 'Whistle Down the Wind' just as effectively; Weill's 'The Ballad of Sexual Dependency' never sounded more bleak.'
Tete a Tete Opera Festival 2011
"Accompanied by a combo of oboe, cello and percussion, Jessica Walker stylishly incarnated one of the unborn as a slinky cabaret star." - Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph
"Jessica Walker's Nero gleams and suggests a searching mind gone wrong. [Her] final duet is wondrous." - Kieron Quirke,Evening Standard *****
"...Jessica Walker, a Nero of swaggering charisma." - Hannah Nepil, Financial Times
Link to Interview with Lyn Gardner The Guardian 2010: