Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Ben Forster. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Ben Forster. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, 11 June 2021

West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre | Review



West End Musical Celebration (Concert) 
Palace Theatre 
Reviewed on Thursday10th June 2021 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

As two pioneers in making theatre accessible, diverse and welcoming, Shanay Holmes and Chris Steward have continually pushed through all of the setbacks of the last year to provide high quality, delightful entertainment. Most recently through their West End Musical Drive In’s and now through their West End Debut which was a full, flamboyant and fabulous celebration of, and return to theatre.


As hostess with the mostess, Shanay took us through the night with grace and passion. Like all the performers, it was really evident just how much theatre and the theatrical community means to her and the love throughout the auditorium was frenetic.


Joining Shanay were some of the West End's best: Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Ben Forster, Rachel John, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Layton Williams. It's unfair to pick favourite moments when every performance was a complete treat and the song selection was outstanding. From Defying Gravity, to a bluesy version of Don't Rain on My Parade and a sweetly sentimental rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow there was something for absolutely everyone. If that wasn't enough, the pre-show/interval playlist was also a stagey delight. 


As well as this, the night featured a fantastic band, wonderful backing singers and excellently sleek dancers. Several standing ovations and plenty of chair dancing highlighted that the audience were completely on the performers side and were just as much a part of the show as those on stage, albeit with considerably vocal ability. Overall the whole evening felt like a high quality, well-oiled, musical theatre sensation.


Alongside the mile a minute song selection, the night also included the sparkling wardrobe of dreams. The sheer glitz, glam and spectacle of the whole night's proceedings felt so special to be a part of. 


The night closed with a series of high octane numbers, including Don't Stop Believing, How Will I Know and One Night Only, which had everyone on their feet and proved that we really can have a good time, even under covid restrictions. 


As the final chorus of The Greatest Showman’s From Now On rang out “and we will come back home”, I was reminded that the theatre really is home and if last night's concert is what it's like then never want to leave.



West End Musical Celebration runs at the Palace Theatre until Sunday 13th June 2021


Photos by Bonnie Britain

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Sondheim on Sondheim, Royal Festival Hall | Review


Sondheim on Sondheim 
Royal Festival Hall
Reviewed on Thursday 15th March 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Stephen Sondheim is one of the most loved musical theatre composers ever but because so much of his music is deeply rooted into it's source shows, his songs are rarely performed in a revue style as it tends to make little sense. However, people often try to make it work which is how Sondheim on Sondheim, conceived by James Lapine, was born. Instead of just being a series of songs, it includes footage and commentary from Stephen himself.

There is a mixture of biographical footage as well as more musically descriptive passages which meld into the live performances. Particularly effective moments were when Sondheim describes the various opening numbers for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum before they're sung live, and when he explains the musical complexities of Sweeney Todd as Julian Ovenden gives a rousing rendition of Epiphany.

The cast of this concert were sublime, with some outstanding ensemble moments including the jazzy, extra-swung version of West Side Story's Something's Coming. Claire Moore and Liz Callaway are both spectacular, with their touching mash up of Losing My Mind and Not a Day Goes By being a stand out of the night as well as their solo performances of Send in the Clowns and Buddy's Eyes. Julian Ovenden showed off his powerful voice in a number of songs, especially the glorious Finishing the Hat from Sunday in the Park with George


I felt that Rebecca Trehearn and Tyrone Huntley were underused in the concert. However, Rebecca's rendition of I Read and Tyrone's, Being Alive were absolutely wonderful. Both performers are firm favourites of mine and it was joyous to hear them backed by a full, flowing orchestra, even if it was only for a brief period. Damian Humbley replaced Ben Forster and provided some fantastic vocal moments, namely during Franklin Shepard, Inc.

Aside from the vocal performances, the BBC  Concert Orchestra were splendid, however at times, especially in the first act, the balance between them and the performers just didn't work and led to very uneven sound. At points it seemed like the microphones were not working at all whilst at others it sounded over amplified. 

Overall this was a beautifully moving concert with some light hearted moments as well as some more moving flashes such as when Sondheim describes his relationship with Oscar Hammerstein and talks candidly about receiving a letter from his mother saying she wished she never birthed him. I left the Royal Festival Hall in awe of the performers, in love with Sondheim's music and connected to him as a person. Of course we just saw him on screen but in his candid moments he came across as a genuinely kind person who adores music- something which we can all relate to.

Sondheim on Sondheim will be broadcast on Tuesday 20 March, 7.30pm on BBC Radio 3

photo credit: Mark Allan