Edinburgh Spotlight (Jen Bolsover) – August 2015
Performer Sophie Juge nails the schoolgirl turn of phrase, the horsey poshness and indefatigable spirit of the character. For those who only know Sally Bowles as portrayed by Liza Minnelli, the figure that they meet in MUSE might be something of a surprise…Her singing, fortunately, is considerably more accomplished than Sally Bowles’ as described by Isherwood, and she shows off her range with a selection of jazz standards between sections of monologue. A versatile and lively three-piece band provides accompaniment and atmosphere.
Herald Scotland (Rob Adams) – August 2015
Jean Ross was the inspiration for Christopher’s Goodbye To Berlin and femme fatale of Cabaret, and Jugé Productions’ MUSE paints a far more intelligent, aware and adaptable picture of a woman who also became the muse for lyricist Eric Maschwitz, of These Foolish Things fame, and led a life that slipped with relative ease from performing in Berlin to covering the Spanish Civil War as a respected journalist.Sophie Jugé, above, plays Ross with a nicely observed imperiousness mixed with an air of resignation, berating the unseen staff on arrival of the studio and moving quickly into Willkommen, from Cabaret, blended with Juan Tizol’s Caravan to denote Ross’s current circumstances and Egyptian birth. It’s a relatively short piece – 45 minutes – but manages to feed in a lot of information on the literally and metaphorically colourful Ross while Jugé adds appropriate songs of the time to her spoken lines.It’s a good story well told, and sung, with accompaniment from a reeds, keys and double bass trio.
Musical Theatre Review (Fiona Orr) – August 2015
Based on the story of Jean Ross, said to be the inspiration for Christopher Isherwood’s Sally Bowles of I Am a Camera and Cabaret fame, this one-woman show sees Sophie Jugé in a series of short scenes explore the life and times of this intriguing woman…The short monologues are interspersed with live ‘cabaret’ moments – there are no fewer than 12 numbers in this 50 minute show. Backed by a three-piece jazz band, Jugé delivers with cabaret intensity and directness: a mask to hide behind. Her vibrato is pleasing, but it is her lower register that is superior – I would like to have heard more in a lower key. Of the songs, one is in French (’Je ne t’aime pas’) and one in Spanish (‘El Quinto Regimento’).
Counter Culture (Pat Harrington) – August 2015
As we entered the theatre Jazz musicians played Caravan I had come to see Muse a fascinating telling of the story of Jean Ross, the inspiration for the character Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Sophie Juge plays Jean Ross who tells us her story through drama and music. The music is great including such classics as Mad About the Boy, Alabama Song and Love for Sale…In Cabaret and ‘Goodbye to Berlin’, the book by Isherwood (who lodged in the same house in 30s Berlin) the story of ‘Sally Bowles’ ends abruptly. In real life Ross continued to have a series of lovers. In fact one lover, Eric Maschwitz, wrote These Foolish Things about Ross after the end of their affair. Ross was also a political journalist who reported from the front-lines in the Spanish Civil War and married Claud Cockburn who wrote for the Daily Worker (and also had a column in Private Eye for many years). She was a life-long Communist. Juge Performs the anti-fascist El Quinto Regimiento to illustrate this part of the life of Ross…This is a great story with a passionate, expressive and skilful performance from Juge. I highly recommend it.
Henley Standard (Mary Dickinson) – June 2015
Ms Jugé retold Jean Ross’s story of her time in the decadent club life of pre-war Berlin and London. This was interspersed with songs from that era by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, and Kurt Weill — plus one or two in French and Spanish. Her performance was slick and stylish and gave us an idea of the superficial and brittle life that struggling artists might have lived through at that time. Ross endured uncaring men, failed relationships and an abortion, and was finally left alone with a young baby. The set was simple, with a three-piece jazz band at the rear of the stage and a seat with a pram beside it. This enabled the story to be told to the sleeping baby as much as to the audience. It was an unusual and interesting evening of story and song, which was well received by the Kenton audience.
Henley Herald – June 2015
Muse, written by Marlow-based Gez Kahan, offers an evocative retelling of the Cabaret story and uses a single performer – Sophie Jugé – to guide us through the turbulent life of Jean Ross, a ‘divinely decadent’ but not particularly successful, 1930s performer and muse to an eclectic selection of artistic gentlemen. The story is told through a clever mix of reflective narrative, where Jugé, wearing a long housecoat, is seen addressing an infant in a pram, and flashbacks, where she wears an electric blue playsuit and gives an angst-ridden description of her emotional state at the time. It is during these flashbacks that she most often used song to portray her thoughts and feelings and we were treated to convincing performances of many well-known songs from the era, including Eric Maschwitz’s These Foolish Things, for which Ross was said to be the inspiration. A backing band of double bass, piano and clarinet added credibility to the performance. Ross travelled throughout Europe and at one stage inadvertently became a political correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and it is a credit to Jugé’s ability to get into character that she was just as convincing whilst singing popular songs in both French and Spanish as when performing the English favourites. Jugé is a versatile performer with a powerful, resonating voice and a strong stage presence. She gave an intense performance and kept the Kenton audience engaged throughout. If their reaction is anything to go by, I expect that Muse will be very well received in Edinburgh!
The Argus (Rosie Clarke) – May 2015
This simple one-woman show used storytelling and songs to bring to life the story of Jean Ross, the “divinely decadent” 1930s cabaret performer who inspired Christopher Isherwood to create the character of Sally Bowles, popularized by the musical Cabaret. Written by musical director and pianist Gez Kahan, the show touched on Ross’s romantic misadventures as she developed from an over-confident ingénue to a more reflective woman. Backed by a talented three-piece jazz band swinging through music from the period, actress Sophie Jugé carried the show with intensity.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Features