I’ve been to the Royal Albert Hall on numerous occasions and always thought it to be one of the most visually stunning venues in London. The splendour of its design makes it a pleasure to visit, and I have enjoyed such events as the Classic BRIT Awards and the 25th anniversary celebratory production of The Phantom of the Opera there, the latter of which will always be a highlight of my life as a theatre-goer. The lavish stage and auditorium would be overwhelming for anything less than a full-scale concert/production however, which is why the RAH also offers a smaller, yet also impressive, space for those more intimate performances.
I’ve never visited the Elgar Room at the RAH, and was unaware of its presence in fact. I recently heard about it through an upcoming event being held there in October: The Songs of Daniel and Laura Curtis. Partners in love as well as in music, the writing duo are a Welsh composer/musician team which performed under the name Curtis and Coyne prior to their marriage. They made 2013 their year to be noticed with two notable successes: ‘A Miner’s Song’ and their album, Love on 42nd Street.
They wrote the original song, ‘A Miner’s Song’, which was premièred before the Wales v England game on 16th March 2013 by over 300 performers, including such well-known names as Michael Sheen, Jonathan Pryce, Paul Potts, John Owen-Jones, Matthew Rhys, Aled Jones, Joe Calzaghe and the voice of the late Richard Burton, with many more. The song was in aid of the Welsh National Mining Memorial. They also gained further recognition when they held a concert 300 feet underground in Big Pit, Blaenafon, South Wales in tribute to fallen miners. It was in March that they also released their début album, Love on 42nd Street, the profits of which were donated to BBC Children in Need. West End and Broadway star Ramin Karimloo performed the charity single ‘ Why Am I Falling?’, which featured on the album along with seven other tracks recorded by such musical theatre greats as Lea Salonga, Simon Bowman, Samantha Barks, John Owen-Jones and Sierra Boggess.
An impressive line-up of West End leading men and ladies will be performing the work of the power couple when they appear at the Elgar Room next month. The Songs of Daniel and Laura Curtis takes place there on Tuesday 14th October 2014, showcasing an assortment of songs from the album along with the première of a few new numbers. Already announced in the concert’s cast are stars Lucie Jones (Les Miserables), Alexander Hanson (Stephen Ward), Sabrina Aloueche (We Will Rock You), Rebecca Caine (Les Miserables, Phantom), Mark Moraghan (Priscilla) and Chloe Hart (Hairspray), alongside Sean Rumsey, finalist on The Voice, and Charlotte Jaconelli, who was runner-up on Britain’s Got Talent as one half of ‘Jonathan and Charlotte’. Other special guests joining them include Maria Coyne, Kara Lily Hayworth, Duncan Heather, Kasia Howley, Max Keir, Rosie Ladkin and Adam Robert Lewis.
Originally known as the West Theatre, the Elgar Room is where the Central School of Speech and Drama was founded in 1906 and has provided such legendary performers as Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Judy Dench and Harold Pinter with a stage to learn their craft upon. It benefited from a £1 million renovation in 2009 and the versatile space now hosts an array of concerts, cabarets and theatre performances, among its many other uses, and it can accommodate a audience of up to 350 (standing) and 110 when seating is incorporated, utilising an unreserved cabaret-style seating design. It also boasts an impressive lighting and sound system. In addition to welcoming the award-winning composers and their vocal guests in October, the Elgar Room is also set to host several other events in the coming months which will appeal to theatre fans.
The highly popular impressionist/actor Luke Kempner is bringing his critically acclaimed solo show to the venue as part of his national tour, following an appearance in the West End. The Only Way is Downton is impressionistic comedy gold in which Kempner parodies the popular TV series, Downton Abbey, while spoofing other TV shows and modern celebrities – the show was a sell-out success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. His one-man show will play at the Elgar Room for one night only, on Sunday 5th October 2014.
There will also be a night of unmissable cabaret entertainment courtesy of Miss Behave, one of the founding members of the Olivier Award winning La Clique and La Soiree. She appears at the Elgar Room on 18th October 2014 in Miss Behave’s Cabaret Cornucopia, joined by hand-picked modern variety performers such as juggler Matt Hennem, singers Lady Carol and Earl Okin, magician Ben Hart and comedy juggler/musician Paul Morocco.
Other highlights include the premier spoken word and music night, Poejazzi (11th November), half-man, half- x-box comedy extraordinaire Daniel Sloss in new show Daniel Sloss….Really? (5th-6th December) and the Christmas cabaret from burlesque superstar and founder of the West End’s Hurly Burly Show, Miss Polly Rae, entitled Red: A Christmas Cabaret Starring Miss Polly Rae.
There are some venues in London which are just purpose-built for these types of live performance events and which have become favourites with performers and theatre fans because of this. The Royal Albert Hall is exquisite in its design and extends to the beautifully remodelled Elgar Room, which any performer would be delighted to use as the stage for their creative display and which offers a setting that is as inviting as it is impressive. What better place to experience the pleasures of such great talents as Daniel and Laura Curtis than the Elgar Room?
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 23rd September 2014