Posts with the label concerts
Showing posts with label concerts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label concerts. Show all posts

Monday, 24 February 2020

Zorro, Cadogan Hall | Review


Zorro
Cadogan Hall
Reviewed on Sunday 23rd February 2020 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

Fiery, Latin, wacky, soulful and brilliant, Zorro made a triumphant return to London last night, 12 years after its West End premiere. The story of Diego De La Vega who becomes the illusive Fox aka Zorro, to save his town from the tyrannical reign of his childhood friend Ramon, is the classic good vs evil that can't help but invest you with its sincerity and heart of gold. Add to this a score by the Gipsy Kings and a fantastic cast and you've got a great night on your hands.

The plot is wafer thin but in this concert setting, we really had the chance to go beyond that to focus on the fantastic Spanish music and the wonderful characterisation from the whole cast. Even in a full setting, I would imagine that the self-awareness of this show, means you can pretty much overlook the plot faults and just enjoy it for what it is- a heap of fun! There are many 'deep' moments peppered throughout the production, but they're equally balanced with camp humour and wit which lighten the tone and allow us to go on a pretty much carefree journey.

Ricardo Afonso was incredibly convincing and powerful as Zorro/Diego, giving a completely marvellous vocal performance and enrapturing the audience of Cadogan Hall. Delightfully tongue in cheek, with a great balance of sincerity, swagger and playfulness, there's not much more you could ask for from the debonair hero. In great contrast, Robert Tripolino was truly evil as the rapacious ruler Ramon and completely commanded the stage in every moment. Zubin Varla and Jo Parsons, gave solid performances and it's just a shame we didn't get the chance to see and hear more from them.


The love interest Luisa was performed with tenderness by Emma Williams, who revived her West End role and showcased her vocal dexterity, namely in her touching rendition of The Man Behind the Mask.

Also reviving her (Olivier Award Winning) role, was Lesli Margherita who deservedly garnered much applause as the vivacious, smouldering gypsy Inez. Lesli's rendition of Bamboleo will be a memorable moment for everyone at Cadogan Hall and we can only hope she'll be back on London soil soon!

Under the baton of Freddie Tapner, the LMTO orchestra brought vibrant energy to the Hall, with exceptional guitar and percussion woven throughout the entire score. The foot stomping music was fully realised thanks to Paul Smith's sound design which was wonderfully balanced and showcased every single performer and musician brilliantly.

Entertaining and enthusiastic, Zorro was a perfect way to spend a Sunday. Hopefully the rapturous reception is enough to bring this musical back to London very soon. Viva el Zorro!

photo credit: Darren Bell

Zorro, Cadogan Hall | Review

Monday, 24 February 2020

Monday, 10 February 2020

Twisted, Trafalgar Studios | Review


Twisted (Concert)
Trafalgar Studios
Reviewed on Sunday 9th February 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

There weren't many reasons to leave the house on Sunday, as Storm Ciara battered the UK, but a dose of musical theatre and Disney were certainly two. The latest in Monsteers' concert series, Twisted provided a chance for performers to sing the Disney songs they've always wanted to, as well as those which they wouldn't typically be cast in. This led to an afternoon of uplifting numbers, belting galore and a great escape from mother nature.

Thirteen performers took to the stage to treat us to a selection of (mostly) contemporary songs, ranging from Poor Unfortunate Souls to Hellfire. Each performance brought something special to the stage and offered a chance for stripped back performances celebrating musicality, Disney, Pixar and general theatricality.

Everyone on stage gave top notch performances, with a mixture of upbeat, chilled and full-out stagey numbers. Emily Mae Walker's rendition of Let It Go, Charlotte Anne Steen's Zero To Hero (complete with super fast mic reflexes) and Cameron Burt's Go The Distance were particular standouts among a group of wonderful performers. Gender swapped numbers proved exceedingly entertaining, with Maiya Quansah-Breed's I'll Make a Man Out of You and Grace Mouat's Proud of Your Boy earning huge applause and showing the audience the songs in a different light.

Completing the male line-up were Aran McRae, Lewis Asquith and Christopher Cameron who all gave brilliantly entertaining performances. On the ladies side, it was Lauren Soley's exceptional performance of Tangled's Mother Knows Best that really impressed, as did Jessica Cervi (who stepped in last minute) giving a luminous rendition of Beauty and the Beast. Also stepping up to the plate just the day before was Esme Laudat who's version of Speechless, closed act one in the best way possible. Josie Kemp and Chloe Hazel also gave strong performances with Hazel's Poor Unfortunate Souls a real highlight.

Although the bare, minimalist approach was effective, perhaps future concerts could include some props just to make the fairly large space feel a little more welcoming and less of a 'stand up, sing and go' affair. I did find that occasionally the speakers were a little loud and the lighting somewhat abrupt, and whilst these issues did not detract from the performances, they are things which could be tweaked to step the next concert up a level. 

Twisted was a great way to spend a Sunday and I'd certainly recommend booking future Monsteers concerts.  Great songs, a fab theme and an outstanding band led by the incomparable Steve Corley made for a thoroughly entertaining afternoon.

Twisted, Trafalgar Studios | Review

Monday, 10 February 2020

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Hannah Waddingham on Bringing a Queen to Life in The Pirate Queen | Interview


Based on the real-life story of history’s Grace O’Malley – an Irish Chieftain and notorious pirate, The Pirate Queen is an adventure chronicling the compelling, inspiring heroine who led an extraordinary life as a rogue, lover and mother in 16th-century Ireland. To protect her people and save her one true love, O’Malley must confront the one woman more powerful than her— her fierce rival, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

From the writers of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, the show combines classic storytelling and a sweeping score, with the powerful, vibrant traditions of Irish dance and song, to create a modern musical event that is both historic romance and a timeless epic.

Playing Queen Elizabeth I in this one night only extravaganza is Hannah Waddingham, who told us what we can expect from the musical, what other historical figure she'd like to play and what her favourite moment of the musical is...



Tell us about The Pirate Queen, what can we expect?
Audiences can definitely expect an absolutely glorious wall of sound to hit them from the get go. Just sitting in on rehearsals the last few days I can’t quite believe what the ensemble have already achieved, quite irritatingly quickly really! It’s the most beautiful, expansive, atmospheric  piece and I can’t wait for us to unleash it on the London Coliseum. 


You're playing Queen Elizabeth, what's it like brining a royal to life?
What’s struck me most about trying to mould myself into Queen Elizabeth I is the sense of responsibility and how information received by her from her court must be firstly processed as Queen, not as a woman. 


What's your current favourite moment of the show?
My current favourite moment of the show is when she and Grace (Rachel Tucker) are in their own heads ruminating about the “other woman” in the duet She Who Has All. 

It’s that beautiful construct of the audience seeing and hearing their insecurities in life and about the other person before they see it in each other in the flesh. 


If you could star in a musical about any other historical figure, who would you choose?
If I were to take on the role of any other historical figure it would have to be a biblical one! Nothing touches Judas Iscariot for me. Both vocally and emotionally there could be no more satisfying a role for me than that. 


Why should people come and see The Pirate Queen?
People should come and see The Pirate Queen because it deserves to be heard in the beautiful, epic setting of The London Coliseum. They are such fitting bed fellows. 


The score is Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg at their atmospheric best, and what greater cause could there be than for the Leukaemia Uk charity. The evening will be a great privilege for everyone to be part of, both on stage and off. 


The Pirate Queen plays at the London Coliseum on 23 February, 7pm

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Hannah Waddingham on Bringing a Queen to Life in The Pirate Queen | Interview

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Rachel Tucker on Starring in The Pirate Queen | Interview

Based on the real-life story of history’s Grace O’Malley – an Irish Chieftain and notorious pirate, The Pirate Queen is an adventure chronicling the compelling, inspiring heroine who led an extraordinary life as a rogue, lover and mother in 16th-century Ireland. 

From the writers of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, the show combines classic storytelling and a sweeping score, with the powerful, vibrant traditions of Irish dance and song, to create a modern musical event that is both historic romance and a timeless epic.

Rachel Tucker is taking on the role of Grace O'Malley in the one night only London premiere of the musical. Rachel told us all about the show, her favourite moments and what it's like to bring real life characters to life on stage...


Tell us about The Pirate Queen, what can we expect?
The Pirate Queen is a very old, true Irish story about how the daughter of the O’Mally clan became the first woman Queen of in Ireland in 16th century. She was known for her fearlessness not just as a woman but as a leader and was known for her ruthlessness in political negotiations with Queen Elizabeth I and trying to get her peoples land back no matter what it took.

Today in rehearsals I sang two very powerful duets with Hannah Waddingham who plays Queen Elizabeth and we were both struck at how amazing it is that these two women back in the 1500s were the leaders of each of their own lands and negotiated with each other not just as chieftain & queen but woman to woman. 

Their dialogue together is fascinating, the lyrics are so graceful yet explosive! It’s been a long time since I’ve listened and sang through an known score with so much excitement! 


You're currently playing Beverley Bass and are now taking on Grace O'Malley for one night only. What's it like bringing real life people to life on stage? 
Well as a job, it’s blooming great! I love bringing my own take and as much as Rachel to each role. I am constantly looking to bring only truth to every line and character I get to play, whether it be a comedic, tragic or heroic role. What ever the room, I love to tell the truth. 


What's your current favourite moment of the show?
Can I say all of it?! Well today has been a first day rehearsals so my favourite moment of the day was hearing Queen Elizabeth sung like only Hannah could sing it! Just jaw dropping! 


Why should people come and see The Pirate Queen?
I think this is a piece of musical theatre that should be seen and heard in this day and age. It almost feels more relevant now than it was when it first was first conceived. 

You do not want to miss hearing the stunning choral ensemble of around 40 members and the orchestrations by Julian Kelly are going to transcend you to another level! The event of 2020 if you ask me!!! 


The Pirate Queen plays at the London Coliseum on 23 February, 7pm

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Rachel Tucker on Starring in The Pirate Queen | Interview

Monday, 21 October 2019

Cinderella, Cadogan Hall | Review


Cinderella
Cadogan Hall
Reviewed on Sunday 20th October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Yesterday, Cadogan Hall played host for a one-night-only staged concert of the much loved musical, Cinderella. Written in the 50s by Rodgers and Hammerstein for television, the musical has since been adapted for various stage productions but until now, hasn't been seen in London. Thanks to the exceptional London Musical Theatre Orchestra and stellar cast, that changed last night and those in attendance were treated to a sparkling night of magic.

Upon entering the auditorium bathed in purple light, the mystical scene was set and as the cast stepped out we were transported to a kingdom where kindness wins and anything is possible. Directed by Jonathan O'Boyle, this really was a stunning production which hopefully paves the way for future Cinderella-filled magic in the West End.

Thanks to the LMTO under the baton of Freddie Tapner, the sumptuous score was really the star of the night. Evoking fairytale vibes, causing laughter and creating a romantic atmosphere even before the stellar performers joined in, the performance just reminded us how excellently sumptuous Rodgers and Hammerstein's work is.

The semi-staged concert was brought to life by George Reeve's projections which fit the space exceptionally and looked as though they were drawn straight from a long lost storybook. They transported us from setting to setting and breathed life into moments which would be grand spectacles in a fully staged production.


With a group of some of the biggest names in the West End, it was expected that the performers would be top notch and boy they did not disappoint. The stunning cast took us on a romantic journey filled with socially relevant comments and a boat load of whimsy. Mazz Murray was fantastically malicious and biting as the evil stepmother, whilst Dianne Pilkington was her contrast and the crazy but magical and airy fairy godmother. Zoe Rainey gave a sweet performance as Ella's "kind" stepsister Gabrielle, and Jodie Jacobs completely blew everyone away with her killer vocals and fantastically characterised portrayal of Ella's other sister Charlotte. 

As our leading lady for the night, Christine Allado gave a beautifully strong performance. With a grace and elegance any Princess would be proud of, Allado was a joy to watch on stage and her pristinely clear vocals filled Cadogan Hall with ease, power and wonder. In the role of the royal suitor Jack Yarrow was perfection. With an absolutely astounding voice, it's clear why he has begun taking the West End by storm.

This production of Cinderella is very much for a modern audience as it showcases the need for kindness alongside social reform. Ella's alertness to injustices outside those she faces in her family home is moving to see and works well alongside the romantic plot that is not all roses and chocolates. The political slant feels highly relevant, as well as allowing for extra comedic moments and I don't doubt this show would have a welcome place in the West End.

photo credit: Darren Bell

Cinderella, Cadogan Hall | Review

Monday, 21 October 2019

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Refresh (Concert), Spiegeltent | Review


Refresh (Concert)
Spiegeltent
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th July 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Refresh is a fantastically exciting cabaret series created by Ryan Carter. The idea is that a cast of talented, fresh west end performers, bring a set list to life that features re-worked versions of many well know musical songs.The concerts are designed to celebrate musical theatre and entertain fans of the genre, but also to provide a gateway experience for those less knowledgable or invested in it. After a selection of concerts, Refresh is taking a short residency at the Underbelly festival to captivate audiences in the intimate Spiegeltent setting.

The set features an eclectic and wholly enjoyable series of songs. From the beautifully haunting Kiss The Air by Scott Alan, to the Hamilton classic You'll Be Back, there's certainly something for everyone. The joy of Refresh is that even if a song is not your favourite originally, the inventive re-imaginings will have you seeing and hearing it in a new way. Highlights of Jo Noel-Hartley and Ryan Carter's arranging, include It Won't Be Long Now, My Favourite Things and the thrilling Rewind mash-up of the history of musical theatre.

The cast is made up of vocal powerhouses: Sam Carlyle, Kayla Carter, Linnéa Didrick, Ben Farrall, Adam Gillian, Abbi Hodgson, Charlotte Miranda Smith, Baker Mukasa and William Lloyd. Each performer brings something beautiful to the stage and even more magic is created when the team come together for their group pieces. The rapport between the cast is highly entertaining and it's clear that everyone's hearts are really into making Refresh as sleek and absorbing as it is. Stand out performances include the quartet rendition of Kiss The Air, Abbi Hodgson's There Once Was a Man, and the rousing opening Do You Hear The People Sing? The musicality and versatility of each performer is evident and it's fantastic to hear vocalists in a raw but professional and high quality performance. 

Mention must go to the brilliant lighting design which continually adds to the varying moods of the songs, as well as providing visual treats on its own, and making the experience more visceral. Ryan Carter's design of the graphics and videos which accompany must equally be applauded as they are lively, vibrant and entertaining, and also embody the ethos of Refresh as a whole.

For a night of musical theatre that is different to what you'd expect, pay a visit to see the Refresh gang. Not only are the performers fantastic, but the whole philosophy of the group is something which should be applauded and championed. It should also be noted that following Papa Can You Hear Me? my mum whispered "Babs would be proud" which is high praise indeed and a definite reason to experience these outstanding revitalised performances.

Refresh (Concert), Spiegeltent | Review

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Ben Platt: Sing To Me Instead, Eventim Apollo | Review


Ben Platt: Sing To Me Instead
Eventim Apollo
Reviewed on Saturday 15th June 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

In his premiere London concert, Ben Platt performed his Sing To Me Instead tour to thunderous applause, and proved that sublime vocal skill and authentic connection are the perfect combination for a magical night. 

Opening the evening was James TW. A British singer-songwriter, James instantly got the audience on his side through his earnest songs and impressive vocals which set the tone for the intimate evening ahead. His stripped down version of Hey Ya! was particularly entertaining, especially as the audience sang back in a wonderful moment of synchronicity. Personally the most moving song was When You Love Someone which was performed with absolute candor, and highlighted why James is succeeding in his career so far.

After a brief interval, headliner Ben Platt took to the stage to almighty applause as he sung out his first instantly recognisable phrase. From the opening moment we were transferred to a vibrant jam session which was energetic and magnetic throughout. The opening song Bad Habit paved the way for the signature vibrato, laid back vibe and insanely well performed concert we were about to experience. With a set list almost exclusively featuring songs from Ben's debut album, this was a wonderful chance to see and hear Ben outside the restraints of playing a character. Whilst yet to perform in a West End musical, it was clear from the many people sporting Dear Evan Hansen merchandise, that a lot of his fans are from his theatre work. What was wonderful about this concert, is that despite not featuring any musical theatre numbers, it felt just as emotive and transformative as sitting through a plot filled musical and will entertain both stageys and non-stageys alike. If the album is not enough to assure you of Platt's vocal prowess, seeing him live will absolutely seal the deal.


Ben animatedly chatted between songs as he found ways to open himself up and connect to the audience. Short anecdotes about each piece added a depth which seemed to resonate with everyone there. In a night of perfectly performed songs it's hard to label standouts, but Honest Man and Share Your Address were particular favourites as they radiated energy thanks to Ben and his outstanding band and backup singers. Throughout the concert Platt used his smooth riffs and a soaring range to share the various life lessons he's learned and seemed to truly be loving every minute of it. 

Aside from Ben's own music, he also put his spin on some other artists. Brandi Carlile's The Joke was goosebump inducing, whilst Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed transported us to a bopping bar and the melody of Elton Jonh's Take Me To The Pilot was emphasised and enthusiastically performed. 

The intimate feel of the Sing To Me Instead album was perfectly reflected in the stage layout which was dotted with cushions and family photos. Every beat of each song was matched faultlessly through the lighting design of the tour. Superbly theatrical, warm and awe-inspiring, it was truly the most well lit concert I've ever experienced and made the night not only aurally pleasing, but visually stunning.


Ben closed the night with Older and Run Away; two beautifully controlled pieces which solidified him as performer in his own right, outside of playing a character. As audience members, we were welcomed into Ben's world and he did not shy away from letting us in on his triumphs and flaws. This connection was truly magical and I have absolutely no doubt that Ben will continue to beguile and inspire audiences around the world. 

photo credit: Olivia Mitchell

Ben Platt: Sing To Me Instead, Eventim Apollo | Review

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Sunday Favourites: Marisha Wallace, The Other Palace | Review


Sunday Favourites: Marisha Wallace
The Other Palace 
Reviewed on Sunday 19th May 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

The Other Palace is playing host to a new series of intimate solo concerts, where the West End's finest get to perform their favourite songs in a laid back session called Sunday Favourites. Last Sunday Dreamgirls and Waitress superstar Marisha Wallace, took us on a soulful journey where she opened up about her life and showed off her golden pipes in a wonderful celebration of music. 

Featuring an eclectic selection including an Aretha Franklin medley, My Funny Valentine, Zero to Hero and How Deep is Your Love, Marisha provided something for everyone and vocal gem after  vocal gem.

As well as a fine solo repertoire, a number of guests also helped the proceedings. Nicole Raquel Dennis and Nathaniel Morrison brought some smooth, crazily tight backing vocals to a few songs, including a remixed version of Britney Spears' Lucky which was hauntingly brilliant. Jodie Steele also took to the stage for a lovely performance of the India Arie classic, Ready For Love; whilst Lucie Jones joined Marisha for a fiery rendition of Take Me or Leave Me. Both Jodie and Lucie complemented Marisha excellently and all three created a warm, natural environment that welcomed the audience in. It goes without saying that the vocals were super and it's great to know that all the performers are thriving on musical theatre stages where their talents can really shine. Competition winner Lashayah, also showed that the future of the West End is in very safe hands.


Despite having missed the concert version of The Colour Purple I was lucky enough to hear Marisha perform the powerful I'm Here at her 2017 Soul Holiday concert, and was absolutely thrilled to have another chance to hear her incredible rendition on Sunday. Marisha has a wonderful ability to word paint even the smallest of words to truly bring a piece of music to life. Her vocal skills are matched by her magnetic personality and witty rapport with the audience. 

Again, Marisha spoke candidly about her life, namely the ups and downs she has experienced throughout her career and more recently as she soared in Dreamgirls but struggled in her personal life. Hearing someone be so honest on stage is refreshing and works to unite the audience through common emotions.

It's evident from the new levels Marisha has consistently been reaching since she came to our side of the pond, that she's got a long career ahead of her and a loyal fanbase over here. It just goes to show that talent really is appreciated and alongside being a kind, genuine person, will get get you everywhere. Of course there are negatives and lows, but Marisha is proof that with perseverance, hard work and real skill, you can succeed.

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Sunday Favourites: Marisha Wallace, The Other Palace | Review

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Georgia Carling and Patrick Sullivan: Surviving a Millennial Jukebox, Museum of Comedy | Review


Georgia Carling and Patrick Sullivan: Surviving a Millennial Jukebox
Museum of Comedy 
Reviewed on Wednesday 8th May 2019 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★★

Bat Out of Hell may have closed at the start of the year but that doesn't mean the love for the show and its cast has dwindled. In fact, the fans may be even more supportive now as they jump at each chance to keep the memories alive. Last night that was helped by Valkyrie and Blake themselves: Georgia Carling and Patrick Sullivan who put on a concert as part of Monsteers Artistry's new series. The pair took to the stage of the intimate Museum of Comedy to bring us a night of beautiful vocal entertainment as they sung us through some of their favourite songs.

Despite both having their starring moments in Bat, it was an enthralling treat to hear both performers really sing and show the audience just how talented they are. Their various song choices allowed us to hear cutesy, lilting moments alongside huge belt numbers, each and every one of which was performed with intensity and vocal prowess.

Patrick Sullivan's gloriously smooth tone is a true delight to hear as he skilfully masters huge songs including The Streets of Dublin (revive A Man of No Importance please) and Sam Smith's Lay Me Down. Patrick's natural charm leads the audience to feel welcomed and the space of the Museum of Comedy is perfect for a semi-informal concert.


Georgia Carling's infectious personality bursts out from the stage as she provides not only killer vocals but a magnetic stage presence which enchants the audience and has them in the palm of her hand. Georgia's rendition of The Story was completely magical and Before He Cheats brought a sassy side to the night's proceedings. Georgia has a special skill of being able to capture a crowd whilst remaining natural and relaxed as she allows the audience to bask in her talents.

Alongside the natural banter of Georgia and Patrick, the pair were joined by ex-Strat and fan favourite, Benjamin Purkiss who brought spades of humour and vocals beyond belief to the nights proceedings. Stacy's Mom was a comedic standout and Matt Corby's Brother was a vocal gem of a piece which Ben performed stunningly.

In a night where every song was a delight, some other highlights included Patrick's masterfully controlled version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your FaceThey Just Keep Moving The Line which Georgia performed with gusto and honesty; Dream On which was a battle of the powerhouses Patrick and Ben; and Lucky which was magically performed by Georgia and Patrick.


If you weren't at the Museum of Comedy last night then you really missed out on a fantastically performed concert with treat after treat from three of the most talented performers the West End has to offer. I can only hope this isn't the last time we see and hear this trio perform. If you want to witness truthful, magnetic performances then look no further than Georgia, Patrick and Ben!

Follow Monsteers Artistry for information on future concerts and events

photo credit: Rishi Rai

Georgia Carling and Patrick Sullivan: Surviving a Millennial Jukebox, Museum of Comedy | Review

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Friday, 22 March 2019

Vision of You: Live with Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, Key Theatre | Review


Vision of You: Live
Key Theatre, Peterborough
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th March 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Since the closing of Bat Out of Hell, fans of the show have been able to keep their love and involvement alive through Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton's album Vision of You which charts the backstory of their characters Falco and Sloane. Accompanying the album, the pair have been on a mini tour around the country where they welcomed fans into the Falco Family and provided some absolutely outstanding vocals while they did it.

The final stop on the tour (for now) took Vision of You back to where Rob first performed, Peterborough where a home crowd joined with those from out of town to create a wonderful atmosphere and a real celebration of the music and the performers. A mixture of a concert and a musical, this version of Vision of You used the basic skeleton of the previous ones and added to it to create a complete extravaganza of a show. Once again, Erin Ong (who travelled from America to be part of the final show!) provided her lovely artwork which was projected above the characters to create an almost comic book feeling and embellish the story that was being told. 

Rob and Sharon performed most of the songs from their album, as well as some extras, with the heart, vocals and chemistry that they are so loved for and took the audience on a journey through the eyes of their characters very well. What made this show extra special, was the involvement of Raven and Strat aka the crazy talented Georgia Carling and Simon Gordon, who performed solos, duets and group numbers to perfection. Also joining the gang were the young KYT performers who gave spirited performances and brought The Lost to life. Accompanied by Steve Corley and his distinguished band, each number was a powerhouse moment and a true celebration of the superbly talented performers on stage. 


Opening with 'Falling Slowly' and closing with 'The Show Must Go On' really sums up how versatile all the performers on stage are; from the hugely upbeat numbers to the more intimate and delicate numbers, there was never a moment which fell flat or felt under emoted. Both Rob and Sharon's voices are raw and expressive but manage to maintain complete control throughout. Especially impressive were Sharon's heartfelt renditions of 'Delight' and 'The Man with the Child in his Eyes' which brought a stillness to the room that was hauntingly beautiful. Rob gave a comedic performance of 'A Miracle Would Happen' as well as his signature rock tones in the epic 'What You Own' where he was also joined by Simon Gordon

Simon's voice is beyond beautiful and he showcased it effortlessly with each number he was a part of. His performance of 'Bat Out of Hell' illustrated exactly why he was cast in the role of Strat and gave us a chance to hear and see him shine without the lighting and effects that were prevalent in Bat Out of Hell. If this evening was anything to go by, I'm convinced Simon could probably make a shopping list sound exquisite. Aside from Simon's performance, this semi stripped back rendition of Bat also highlighted just what a brilliant song it is.


Georgia Carling's voice complemented Simon's fantastically in their duets, 'For Crying Out Loud' and 'High Enough', as well as shining in her solo and group moments. 'Taking Chances' is a belter of a song and Georgia tackled it with ease as she gave a vocally faultless and completely first-rate performance. After gaining many fans from her performances as Raven and Valkyrie in Bat Out of Hell, there's no doubt that Georgia will continue wowing with her superb talents. 

Vision of You was a night of extremely well done storytelling and singing. Seeing how much Bat Out of Hell means to Sharon and Rob is really moving and I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear of Falco and Sloane. The stellar performances, well done lighting, outstanding band, skillful projections and great atmosphere made this a fabulous night and a perfect farewell-for-now to Vision of You

Follow Sharon and Rob for updates on future performances during their #FindingTheFalcos journey

photo credit: Bat Loaf

Vision of You: Live with Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, Key Theatre | Review

Friday, 22 March 2019

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

West End Live Lounge: Woman, The Other Palace | Review


West End Live Lounge (Concert)
The Other Palace
Reviewed on Friday 20th October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★½

This is the second Woman themed West End Live Lounge, but this time, the team have graduated from The Other Palace Studio, to the main space as they become bigger and better. Featuring songs from some of the most influential women in music and raising money for Samaritans, West End Live Lounge is really about the heart and soul of everyone involved.

Host for the evening was Samuel J Holmes who wittily engaged the audience and provided innuendo after innuendo and a number of anecdotes about his new home in Southend. The atmosphere remained lighthearted throughout but we were all reminded of the crucial reason for the concert. As always, the proceeds from West End Live Lounge go to charity, this time we were raising funds for Samaritans who do crucial work helping those in dark mental places. The Samaritans answer a call for help every six seconds which is truly incredible and its imperative that we help where we can. Especially in an industry where mental health is often battered, it feels very special and close to everyone's hearts that we can support the charity in this way.

Whilst the evening did flow very well, it would have been nice to hear each performer introduce themselves and their songs a little as at times they felt a little removed from the audience. Perhaps this was due to nerves but I felt that some ice breaking could have helped.

To raise funds and of course provide entertainment, founder of West End Live Lounge, Shaun McCourt pulled together some of the best West End performers to sing their hearts (and larynx's) out.  Highlights were aplenty so I'll just name a few... First up, Jennifer Tierney's performance of All By Myself  which was note perfect and superbly performed. With her hauntingly beautiful rendition of With Woman in the Moon, Brady Isaacs Pearce brought calm to the venue, whilst Shekinah McFarlance showed off her extreme vocal prowess with Lose To Win. 


Blowing the roof off at the end of act two, Emma Lindars put her own spin on the Jessie J classic, Mama Knows Best and wowed the entire audience a second time with Stone Cold by Demi Lovato. Live Lounge regulars Divalution provided their signature riffs, belt and sass with All I Ask and Power, and Matthew Harvey put a new spin on Britney Spear's, Circus, complete with multi-coloured lighting.

Other stand outs included Kayleigh McKnight's rendition of Chandelier, Louise Dearman's take on the Celine classic, Taking Chances. And, after an understated start, Simon Gordon's performance of Shallow was utterly breathtaking and completely memorable. The 10 piece band led my MD Sam Coates did an outstanding job of backing up the performers as well as having their own chances to shine. The full band bring a real warmth to these concerts and its fantastic to, not only hear them playing brilliantly, but also see them looking like they're having a great time.

West End Live Lounge continues to provide a highly entertaining Sunday out, full of treats a surprises. There is always guaranteed to be something for everyone and you should definitely pop along, not only to hear fabulous singing, but also to support highly deserving charities.

photo credit: Nick Brittain (Brittain Photography)

West End Live Lounge: Woman, The Other Palace | Review

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Thursday, 21 February 2019

In Conversation With... Shaun McCourt | West End Live Lounge | Interview

West End Live Lounge is back at The Other Palace on March 10th for a celebration of WOMEN. The stellar line up of performers will sings songs from powerful ladies, all whilst raising money for Samaritans. I spoke to founder, Shaun McCourt about all things West End Live Lounge...



Can you tell us a bit about the creation of West End Live Lounge?
West End Live Lounge started in 2017 as an idea for a series of concerts to raise money for charity and has since grown to where it is today. I wanted to create an event which would allow West End performers the platform to sing material which was not from the world of musical theatre with a live band. There was a gap in the gig/concert circuit for such an event and I simply decided to go for it-and what an exciting journey it has been.


You’ve gone from the Union Theatre to the Other Palace Studio to the main house and each concert is getting bigger and better. What’s the next thing you’d like to achieve with your concerts?
I am always overwhelmed by the support that West End Live Lounge receives. It is great to see so many people enjoying the concerts. Without this support, its reputation would not be where it is now. The show continues to grow and there are certainly exciting plans in place for its future. However, I am going to keep the secrets for now I am afraid. Watch this space!

In terms of what I would like to achieve, my aim is to continue to produce concerts that not only entertain our audiences, but also raise as much money for charity as possible.


What’s your favourite part of putting the Live Lounge concerts together?
Though I may look slightly stressed on the day of a Live Lounge concert, I have to say that I enjoy the whole process of putting it together- from picking the theme, to casting the line-up, liaising with The Other Palace, to the day of the concert itself. However, if I had to pick a favourite moment, it would be the rehearsals and soundcheck on the day of each event. The Live Lounge band are all incredible musicians and our musical director, Sam Coates, is a genius. That moment when we are all set up and I hear the band play for the first time is really special. It is always a reminder of just how much hard work people put into making these events a success. 

West End Live Lounge has become a bit of a family. The central team is made up of Sam Coates (musical director), Will Miney (technical manager) and myself. However, all performers and musicians that have been involved become part of this family. Getting to work alongside so many talented individuals always makes this such a rewarding process.


What can people expect when they come and experience a West End Live Lounge?
People can expect a great night at the theatre. If this doesn't happen, then I am doing something wrong! A West End Live Lounge event promises a fantastic line up of incredible singers and musicians. Each concert has an exciting theme and gives the audience the chance to see their favourite West End performers step out of the world of musical theatre. 


Each concert you raise money for a different charity, how do you choose the charities to support and what do they mean to you?
Choosing the charity for each concert is always a tricky job. There are so many important charities, so rather than continue to raise money for just one, I decided that it was really important to me that each concert raised money for a different cause. For some concerts, the theme and charity often go hand in hand. There have also been times where a major event has happened in the world around the time of the concert and it makes total sense to donate the proceeds to this cause. 


If you could have any performer dead or alive to perform at a Live Lounge, who would you choose and why?
This is a tricky question! I am incredibly grateful to every single performer who has given up their time to be part of a West End Live Lounge event. They each bring an amazing talent and such a great energy to the stage. It is important to me that I continue to introduce new faces to the Live Lounge stage and that each concert offers a diverse and exciting line up.

But if I had to pick one person... 

Well...If I could get Jennifer Hudson along to sing a number, would I be excited? Absolutely!


Can you sum up in 5 words why people should come to the next West End Live Lounge?
Belting for a good cause.


West End Live Lounge tickets go on sale March 25th.

Full cast (subject to availability): Adam Bailey, Christina Bennington, Louise Dearman, Lauren Drew, Simon Gordon, Jennifer Harding, Matthew Harvey, Emma Hatton, Lisa Marie Holmes, Claudia Kariuki, Sejal Keshwala, Emma Lindars, Shekinah Mcfarlane, Kayleigh McKnight, Christina Modestou, Brady Isaacs Pearce, Lauren James Ray, Danielle Steers, Laura Tebbutt, Jennifer Tierney, Rodney Vubya.

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

In Conversation With... Shaun McCourt | West End Live Lounge | Interview

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Friday Night is Music Night, Queen Elizabeth Hall | Review


Friday Night is Music Night: Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall (Concert)
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
Reviewed on Friday 8th February 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

The iconic Friday Night is Music Night, led by Ken Bruce took over the recently refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall last night for an eclectic 2 hours of outstandingly virtuosic performances. From Shostakovich to Barry Manilow there was something for everyone and whether you were in the room or listening on the radio, you surely had a fantastic night. 

The ever wonderful BBC Concert Orchestra showcased their impressive ensemble work as they performed a variety of pieces, including highlights from West Side Story and Jurassic Park. Under the baton of Bramwell Tovey, the orchestra created magic that filled the space of Queen Elizabeth Hall with power whilst, also bringing moments of tranquility to the auditorium. A contrast, which listening back to the radio broadcast, transferred very well indeed. 

Also part of the proceedings was supremely talented cornet player, Thomas Nielson who was awarded the 2018 BBC Young Brass Award. With the talent and stage presence of someone much older, Thomas showed just how versatile the cornet can be with his renditions of Napoli and Someone to Watch Over Me. With highly impressive breath control, a wonderful aura and bucket loads of talent, there's no doubt that Thomas will be highly successful in the music scene.

Gary Wilmott and Sarah Fox contributed even more beautiful performances. Gary opened with the tongue-twister Ya Got Trouble from The Music Man which showed his impressive linguistic skills. Wilmott's strong vocals were showcased more in Billy's Soliloquy (Carousel) which built to a powerful and emotive ending that had the audience in instantaneous applause. Song To The Moon was the perfect piece to highlight Sarah's strong soprano voice and provided a lovely contrast to the other pieces in the programme. Cleverly transitioning from a story which inspired a Disney film, to a Mary Poppin's number from a Disney film, the night flowed very well and shone light on the versatility of all the performers.

Joyous performances made for a really magical and highly entertaining night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Although for most people, every night is music night, there's something special about being part of such an iconic BBC feature; and when it's as well performed as last night, you can't really go wrong.

Friday Night is Music Night is available for catch up here

Friday Night is Music Night, Queen Elizabeth Hall | Review

Saturday, 9 February 2019