Review: Giggin4Good’s #Songs4Soi

Reviewed by Sophie Ross

On Sunday night, Giggin4Good held their tenth charity concert at the Actors Church, Covent Garden. Produced by Emma Howe, Hayley Guild and Karen Howe with the help of Nathan Lodge and Jordan Langford, they set out to raise money for the Soi Dog Foundation (in which Nathan and Jordan had visited earlier in the year). The evening hosted by Benjamin-Vivan Jones, featured a line-up filled with West End stars, a raffle with great prizes and a set-list of dreams. It really was one not to be missed.

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Featured performers from the night included Christine Allado, Andrew Bateup, Adam Bayjou, Luke Bayer, Danny Colligan, Nicole Faraday, Harry Francis, Luke George, James Gillan, Chlöe Hart, Houston Girlband (Lauren Byrne, Holly-Anne Hull, Charlotte Steele), Danielle Irvine, Jordan Langford, Nathan Lodge, Robert McNeilly, The MTA, Mikaela Newton, Daisy Steere, Savannah Stevenson, Benjamin Vivian-Jones and Emma Williams. The setlist included such a variation of songs from Dear Evan Hansen to Moana to Hamilton and it was great to see the West End get together to support such a fabulous cause. Equally it was great to see them away from their shows, singing songs from others. Highlights for us were both Savannah Stevenson and Emma Williams solo numbers, the MTA and the group performance of Waving Through A Window. Needless to say, everyone performed incredibly and the talent in the room was off the scale.

What made the evening extra special was the amount of people that had came to support. The church was filled to the brim with budding theatre goers, friends and family and the Soi Dog’s founder, John Dally. Joking that he actually wasn’t over from Thailand just for this event but feeling appreciative that it feel within the same dates of his travel, John took to the stage to say a few words about the hard work the foundation does. An avid Theatre lover himself, he spoke of his wife Gillian who sadly passed away earlier in the year and their passion for the arts. One of the duets in the evening Miss Saigon “Last night of the world” sung beautifully by Savannah Stevenson and Adam Bayjou was a special tribute to Gillian as it was from her favourite musical and one the pair had seen many times.

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The evening also paid tribute to the Manchester attack by having a one minute applause to honour the victims and their families. That was a particularly special moment to be apart of and felt nice to applaud rather than have a moment of silence.

It really was a fun evening, filled with so much love and light. Whenever you attend an evening that recognises and appreciates the work of a cause, it really does feel so great to be apart of. Huge congratulations to the Giggin4Good team alongside both Nathan and Jordan for putting together something so special and one that we were happy we could attend.

To see the pictures from the night, click here: https://www.giggin4good.nikkilewisphotos.co.uk/

Follow Giggin4Good here: https://twitter.com/Giggin4Good

Alice Fearn: Just Me & A Piano

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
Reviewer rating: ★★★★★

Currently starring as Standby Elphaba in Wicked, Alice Fearn took to the stage last night at the Crazy Coqs for her second cabaret style show. Accompanied by MD Nick Barstow she performed in front of an ever so intimate yet jam-packed audience filled with fans, friends and family. It was everything you’d want from a show of it’s type, all rolled into one (and was NOT to be missed).

It was great to see Alice shine up on stage as herself as standby’s don’t often get the recognition they deserve. From the first note, she had the audience in the palm of her hand and it was a real joy to watch. For us, Alice is the epitome of the word “talent”. Her vocals are second to none and she has such a warming down to earth personality that makes her instantly likeable. She joked with the audience that she’d have to look at the setlist to remind herself of the running order and forgot to dedicate a love song to her fiancé, all of which added to her charm and wit. She connected to the crowd with such ease, commanding the stage as the leading lady that she is.

The theme of the evening was taking well known songs but performing them with a different arrangement to what you may be used to hearing. What was great about the show was the variety. It was a real mix up from classic Disney to fabulous divas such as Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion. Alice sang a funny yet sweet song to declare her love for her oh so talented MD and you could tell that being on stage is where she belongs.

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If her brilliant vocals weren’t enough, she was joined on stage by three stagey guests, Adrian Hansel, Lara Denning and Oliver Saville. It’s always great to see performers stripped back away from their shows. Performing a slowed down version of Defying Gravity, tIMG_7790aken from the #OutOfOz video series, Saville and Fearn sounded absolutely fabulous together. A real treat for any Wicked fan.

Ending the evening with “The Big Finish”, followed by an encore in which Alice took to the piano to sing “Being Alive” and applauded out by a full standing ovation, it was a fun and special night to be apart of. Alice is a star and you can tell she has a wonderful career ahead of her. Let’s hope that includes more one night only cabarets (and a second album!).

You can download her album from here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/where-ive-been…-where-im/id1158246055

To catch her as Elphaba, check the website for holiday dates www.wickedthemusical.co.uk

 

Review: Audra McDonald – In Concert (Leicester Square Theatre)

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
April 12th 2017
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Last night, Six-time Tony award winning Audra McDonald opened her four night residency at the Leicester Square Theatre. Although she may not be a big name in the UK, she is certainly a Broadway sensation and it’s wonderful to have her back in London. Hosted by pianist and long-term friend Seth Rudetsky and featuring special guest Will Swenson, it was an evening that fulfilled all of our stagey needs.

After performing at last weekends Oliver Awards, McDonald also had a show at the Donmar Warehouse back in 2000. We’d call these shows warm-ups for her West End acting debut as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, opening at the Wyndham’s in June. It’s great to be able to see her as her charming self before she jumps into the role of such an iconic singer this summer.

The show had a rather intimate feel and was a mix of show tunes lead by chatter as Rudetsky hosted a Q&A in between each song. It was evident that the pair had been friends for quite some time as they bounced off each others energy whilst reminiscing on their past. They told the story of her final exam at Juilliard in which he accompanied her on the piano, a moment in which she thought she was going to epically fail. It was wonderful to see the ease of their conversation that was filled with fun, lighthearted humour and sassiness. Whilst continuing to include the audience it felt like you were in a room filled with your closest friends.

McDonald told stories of her journey to stardom through her college experiences, her first job working in Dinner Theatre’s and her celebrity encounters along the way, including what it was like to work with Puff Daddy and the time Liza Minnelli made her late for the Tony’s. She also told of the time she passed out at a concert to which Julie Andrews came to visit her in hospital to make sure she was okay. It was all very showbiz and we loved it!

Her setlist included songs such as “Maybe This Time”, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and a duet with husband Will, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”. Showcasing her trained operatic voice, McDonald filled the room with her incredible vocals, her warmness and over-powering charm. It’s understandable that the crowd were eating out of the palm of her hand and were fixated on her performance.

Audra, is not only a wonderful leading lady, she’s a parent and it’s clear to see that she balances show-business with her personal life very well. She’s a star and after last night, we can absolutely see why.

You can catch Audra at the Leicester Square Theatre until Saturday 15th April:
https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873569219

Ticket’s for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill are also on sale now
(Wyndhams Theatre from 27th June -9th September)
http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/tickets/lady-day/

 

Rachel Tucker: Live At Zédel

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
Reviewer rating: ★★★★★

Recently finishing as Elphaba in as part of Wicked UK’s tenth anniversary cast, Rachel Tucker is back and better than ever. Kicking off this week at Live At Zédel with four shows of pre-tour warm-ups, we were lucky to nab a ticket to catch this leading lady on her sold out run. And trust me when we say, it was one not to be missed.

Performing in front of an ever so intimate crowd at the Crazy Coqs, Rachel brings her cabaret style show to life with a catalogue of different songs both old and new. Starting off with a minor lighting issue in which Tucker said “who needs lights anyway”, she began to mingle amongst audience members raising their spirt’s as she filled the room with a rendition of Bette Midler’s “Miss Otis Regrets”.

It’s great to see this leading lady take centre stage as herself, captivating an audience with her charm, humour and all round warmness. It’s rare to find someone that oozes all of those qualities as well as having the stamina to keep those killer vocals sounding on fine form. Rachel had the audience in the palm of her hand as she transported them on a journey through the variation of songs she had chosen to sing. From Dear Evan Hansen, to Waitress to Wicked, both uptempo and some more emotional, her show appeals to everyone. Every song came with a story that related to a moment in her life and she offered used the joke “when I was on Broadway” which was always received by the laughter of the crowed room.

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Twitter: FaneProductions

For the Wicked fans in the audience, her special guests for the evening were fellow cast members and friends Louise Dearman and Katie Rowley-Jones. The trio sang a medley from the Broadway show Waitress, followed by a Tucker and Dearman duet which was simply beautiful. The chemistry runs so naturally between them and you can tell that the friendship they share is pure and genuine.
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In rehearsals (From left-right Katie Rowley-Jones, Rachel Tucker, Louise Dearman, Kris Rawlinson)

What is so special about seeing Rachel up on stage is seeing how far she’s grown as a performer from the the young ambitious girl we loved on BBC’s “I’d Do Anything”. Her hard work and passion has certainly paid off and you can tell she’s living her dream. It’s a joy to watch her stripped back, be herself and be totally in her element of entertaining people.

With a mid show outfit change, a Roxy hart role play and a near audience marriage proposal, the show was filled with so much variety. It was a real live in the moment show where you can just sit and enjoy the music for what it is. 

Before the show ended, Tucker sang a reworked version of “No Good Deed” arranged by her MD Kris Rawlinson which quite honestly, was incredible. It’s great to see a well known musical track arranged for a more mainstream audience/sound (and it’s our favourite song from the hit show so we couldn’t be happier – excuse the pun). 

Finishing off by singing Ed Sheeran’s “Castle On The Hill”, the evening ended with the crowd up on their feet applauding Tucker on what had been a wonderful evening.

Her tour kicks off in Belfast on May 13th and finishes at 54 below in New York in September.
It’s a show that you’d be crazy to miss. Grab yourself a ticket whilst you can: (http://www.parallelproductions.co.uk/racheltucker)

You can check out our recent interview with Rachel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtyUKXcJeW4&t=617s

 

Review: State Fair (Cadogan Hall)

Reviewed by Sophie Ross
6th November 2016
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Last night, Cadogan Hall hosted a night of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair.  With a star-studded West End line up accompanied by the London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO), we knew we were in for a treat before it had even started.

The show tells the story of the yearly traditional “Iowa State Fair”and follows the journey of a family preparing to leave their life on the farm for three days of adventure, fun and competition. With such a beautiful award winning score, this entertaining evening for once, was not just about the story, it was about the magic of the music.

Featuring some of West End’s finest, Wendi Peters (Melissa Frake), Clive Cartel (Abel), Oliver Saville (Wayne), Celinda Schoenmaker (Margie), Emma Hatton (Emily) and Richard Fleeshman (Pat) the talent oozing from the stage was undeniably special. This wonderful line-up presented some of the best vocal arrangements that we’ve heard in a long time and with such ease. With each and every person putting their own spin on the characters, the orchestra playing so incredibly and an ongoing buzz in the audience, it was a night of triumphs. It really felt like so much more than just a night listening to music. It was truly wonderful.

The real credit for this fantastic production goes to the LMTO. The strong orchestration filled with extremely talented and dedicated musicians was such a joy to listen to. They truly brought so much life to this beautiful score and with Freddie Tapners direction and over the top enthusiasm, they were in their element. It’s often that you don’t always appreciate the dedication and hard work of the orchestra within a theatre as they are usually unseen in the pit but seeing them centre stage with this production was nothing short of spectacular.

What also made the show special was that various members of the LMTO also doubled up to play small parts within the vocal arrangement. It was a night filled with joy, entertainment and a real celebration of music. With a packed audience, the production was truly deserving of it’s long standing ovation and applause. The show was performed with such high standard, fantastic performers and so much talent. One that you would be sorry to miss.

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We’re very excited for A Christmas Carol. Buy tickets here: http://www.lmto.org/whats-on/christmas-carol/

Shoshana Bean: The Singers Lounge

Xt7p-n4mLeading up to last nights show, my excitement levels were sky high. A woman that I deeply admire who has one of the best voices in the business (not to mention she was one of the first Elphaba’s) and finally I had the pleasure of seeing her perform live.

As I entered what they call The Singers Lounge in a darkly lit downstairs area of Pizza Express in Covent Garden, you could feel that there was already a buzz in the room. As the place slowly filled out to the third sold out show of Shoshana’s 3 day stint, you could tell that the show was going to be something special. Upon taking my seat on one of the candlelit tables, I noticed that just a few metres in front of me, the American singer was sat. With the glow from the fairy lights, illuminating her face, the singer was all smiles as she sat with friends, preparing for the show ahead.

Before she started to perform, she interacted with the crowd by saying something on the lines of “This is the last show of three, so fuck it. Let’s do it” so you could already tell that we were in for a treat. The singing then began and that first note echoed through the microphone, everyone just sat in complete ore. The raspiness and tone of her voice is something so unique/special which is evidence as to why she’s had such a successful career so far. The whole venue from the audience members to the waitresses/bar staff were just so fixated on her and it was a great moment to be apart of. For someone with the talent she has, the small/intimate venue just fit the mark perfectly.They called her to the stage just before 9pm and as she made her way, the audience gave her the loudest welcome I think that small venue has ever had. The show hadn’t even started yet and the crowd were already so involved. As a performer, I can only imagine that, that sort of encouragement is a dream. Especially if you’ve crossed the ocean to perform in a place that isn’t home and get to perform to sell out crowds. 4R3vP9ZL

“If you’re brave enough, the quickest way out is always through and what’s waiting on the other side of that, is always so worth going through the shit

The night involved a collection of her own songs mixed with a few covers, one being “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift in which she took a complete different take on the song with Luke Higgins joining her on guitar. Luke is also a singer/songwriter so as an exclusive, Shoshana sang with him on one of this original songs from his forthcoming EP (out early 2016) a song for his Sister which was so beautiful and well written. To add to this she also had a special guest in the form of Vula, a friend of hers with a cracking personality. This leaded to an all singing riff off to Whitney Houston’s classic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. Girlband Houston, also joined to sing back-up on a couple of tracks, as well as sing a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” which blew the house down. For me, the most inspiring moment was when Bean sang Start Tomorrow. In which she gave a speech to motivate anyone that is starting something new on this gloomy Monday. Asking the audience to join in with the song, basically saying you can do whatever the day brings you and you will kill it. It’s moments like that, that makes the show so personal and in my opinion, there isn’t anything better than that atmosphere.I-AFwIKC

I feel like I entered the room with a need/expectation to leave in a good/inspired mood and I left feeling above and beyond that need. With words of wisdom/encouragement, I felt like I could actually take something away of high value from the show. Nearer the end she started to get quite emotional and you can see how much passion she had for the performance she was giving. To say that she killed it would be an understatement. She SLAYED and trust me, this woman can SANNNNNGG.

“So tomorrow’s Monday, is anyone starting anything new tomorrow? This is for all of the starter tomorrow’s. We’re making a pact right now. Whatever we’re starting, we’re fucking finishing it. You hear me”

Even though she started on Broadway and some people probably just associate her with that, this show was just purely her. She’s a fantastic songwriter, performer and has such a natural stage presence. Her music, her voice, her foundations shone through. The comedic side of her personality, added VfXPDSZzfun and lightheartedness to the evening and it really was her time to shine. Her riffs are out of this world and she’s one of the best vocalists I’ve ever heard.

After the show, I was lucky enough to meet with the star, in which she was so gracious and appreciative which was great. Selling copies of her previous albums and interacting with the crowds as the night drew to a close.

Overall the show was fantastic and the perfect way to end a busy week. If you get the chance to see Shoshana when she’s next in town, I recommend you do because it’s not one to be missed.