I said that I would be devoting the space in this week’s blog posts to highlighting some of the various theatrical-based concerts coming up in the month of March. For musical theatre fans, these events can offer just as fulfilling an experience as any big-budget West End show and go one step further by bringing the audience up close and personal with the on-stage performers. I started off the week by talking about the charity gala concert You’ll Never Walk Alone – The West End Unites for the Philippines, which was fundraising for the DEC’s Philippines Typhoon Appeal, and continue with the mention of two upcoming concerts which happen to be taking place on the same night. Both events are being staged in London on Sunday 16th March 2014: one, West End Recast, is providing a rather unique twist on musical theatre as we know it, while the other, You Are Home, invites people to enjoy a whole new program of work from one of musical theatre’s most promising composing partnerships.
West End Recast is billed as ‘a rare opportunity to witness the musical theatre impossible’. For just one night, up becomes down and left becomes right as some of the finest names from the West End stage come together to perform songs from roles which, although they’ve always wanted to sing, would never be cast in. The boundaries are being brought down on this one occasion, allowing the star cast to be who they want and sing what they want. No longer will they be too old or too young, too blonde or too brunette, too fat or too thin. Soprano, bass, tenor…it doesn’t matter. Boys can sing girls songs and vice versa. The rules have been thrown out and anything goes.
Under the direction of Adam Lenson, an impressive line-up of performers are coming to the Duke of York’s Theatre on 16th March to show the sides of themselves that have never been seen before. Simon Bailey (Phantom), Daniel Boys (Peter Pan), Martin Callaghan (Stephen Ward), Nick Holder (The 39 Steps), Leon Lopez (A Little Night Music) and Jon Robyns (Spamalot) comprise the male element of the night, joined by their female counterparts Rebecca Brewer (Aspects of Love), Cynthia Erivo (I Can’t Sing!), Laura Pitt-Pulford (The Light Princess), Frances Ruffelle (Les Miserables), Jenna Russell (Merrily We Roll Along) and Emma Williams (Love Story). They will be singing ‘unique renditions’ of songs from such hit musicals as Wicked, Sweeney Todd, Rent, Dreamgirls and La Cage aux Folles, along with many more. It’s a wonderful chance to see these versatile talents really show what they are made of.
Anderson & Petty: You Are Home is the celebration concert to accompany the debut songbook album of transatlantic songwriting duo Barry Anderson and Mark Petty, which was released on 16th December 2013. The album featured names from both the West End and Broadway and was very well received in theatre circles, described as ‘an excellent collection of songs, indicative of intriguing and interesting talent (The Public Reviews). To follow on from that success, they have once again gathered together a host of musical theatre’s greats to perform a selection of songs from not only the album, but also a few of their upcoming projects. Audience members will get an exclusive preview of the new musical they are working on, which is based on a classic and beloved children’s story, as well as material from the song cycle entitled LOST.
Lending their vocals to the 16 tracks of the album, which reflected such varying sounds and genres as musical theatre, pop, country, folk-rock and gospel, were such West End stars as Gina Beck, Cynthia Erivo, Debbie Kurup and Frances Ruffelle, while the likes of Coleen Sexton, Josh Franklin, Jonathan Rayson and Lucia Spina represented the boards of Broadway. Bringing the wonderful music of Anderson & Petty to life at St. James Studio on 16th March are an equally wonderful line-up of West End’s finest performers. Anderson & Petty have selected 8 songs from the album to be performed on the night, with Kieran Brown and Matthew Barrow both giving repeat performances of the numbers they recorded for the album: Kieran Brown (Love Never Dies) will be singing the song which was written for him following the passing of his beloved nan, ‘A New Star Tonight’, while Matthew Barrow (Merrily We Roll Along) will be singing his specially crafted song, ‘Only Me’. Also performing songs from the album are Willemijin Verkaik (Wicked) with ‘Superman’ (originally sung by Autumn Hurlbert), David Shannon (Phantom) with ‘Tell Me’ (originally sung by Jason Kappus), Charlotte Wakefield (The Sound of Music) with ‘Forever Child’ (originally sung by Gina Beck) and Gloria Onitiri (The Bodyguard) with both ‘The Rain It Falls’ (originally sung by Natalie Gallo) and ‘River, Slow Down’ (originally sung by Debbie Kurup). Sophia Ragavelas, who sang the bonus track ‘Stand Up’ on the album, this time performs the title track ‘You Are Home’ (originally sung by Coleen Sexton).
Also in attendance on the night will be Chris Howell (Stephen Ward) and Kim Ismay (Mamma Mia) to give a sneak peek of some numbers from the LOST song cycle, which includes a rendition of new song ‘Prom Queen’ from the latter. Other songs will be given their premiere courtesy of further names such as Nadine Cox (Wicked) who performs ‘The Female Anatomy’, Edward Baruwa (Les Miserables) with ‘He Never Lost The Fight’ and Jacinta Whyte (Miss Saigon) with ‘I Do’.
Andy Coxon was recently announced as an extra addition to the cast this week.
Anderson & Petty also opened the Take Me Away competition which encouraged hopeful singers to submit an audio/video of themselves to win the chance to join the West End cast and step onto the stage to perform at the You Are Home concert. The contest has now closed and the lucky winner about to be announced.
I’ve known one half of the writing duo for a number of years now and have heard many examples of the music they create, which can swing from heartbreakingly beautiful to side-splittingly funny. In terms of the ‘new writing’ scene, they are fast emerging as one of the most exciting new writing teams on both sides of the Atlantic and anyone interested in the future of musical theatre would do well to acquaint themselves with this talented pair.
These two concert events are taking place on the same day, and while they are very different musical theatre beasts, the common denominator of what they are both offering is top-notch casts and an unmissable experience.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 20th February 2014