On the first of December to kick off the Christmas period in style (the period of time that you’re allowed to be excited about Christmas, anyway!) the Apollo Victoria became home to Movies and Musicals for the night rather than Wicked. As the title of the show suggests, a mixture of pieces from classic movies and well known musicals were performed with a hint of Christmas in the finale.
To open the show, the incredible 55-piece orchestra performed the instantly recognisable theme from Star Wars before the West End Gospel Choir performed “Seasons of Love” from the hit musical RENT.
First West End star to grace the stage was the stunning Sarah Lark, who gave a powerful rendition of Blow Gabriel Blow from Broadway musical Anything Goes. Sarah is currently starring in the ensemble of Les Miserables in London but in my opinion is certainly leading lady material, it was great to see her in her own spotlight! She definitely blew everyone away (bad song pun…)! Following the musical theatre numbers, the orchestra then performed the theme song of Jurassic Park.
At this point it had only been a couple of weeks since Louise Dearman had left performing on the Wicked stage, however she found herself back on it in this concert and seemed to revel being back on it, calling it her home. Aptly, she then sang Home from The Wiz which can be found on her recently released album “It’s Time”. Louise belongs on the stage, that’s apparent, and it’s easy to see how much she loves performing especially when it’s songs she’s picked out herself. As she was on the Wicked stage she also appropriately sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz, nicely tying together her first two songs of the evening with the location she loves so much. I doubt there’s much need to mention that she sang both these numbers with visible passion and power, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Louise’s performances.
Following the mixture of musical theatre and movie scores, the orchestra then performed the James Bond theme tune. What was spectacular about their performances was the realisation of how much imagery film scores hold, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one easily able to picture the scenes that the music was from by them simply playing it.
John Owen Jones who had been highly praised by host Christopher Biggins before joining the stage walked on during the James Bond theme to then sing Thunderball. Known for his time spent as the Phantom, he then performed the classic song from Love Never Dies, ‘Til I Hear You Sing which he sang with incredible power.
Louise then returned to the stage to begin the last part of the first act which was devoted to Les Miserables. This has become quite a regular thing in concerts I’ve noticed (not that I’m complaining!) where there are a group of performers together; the musical has such a dominant presence in the world of musical theatre and it’s popularity is unparalleled so in concerts it’s always a hit. Firstly Louise sang I Dreamed A Dream which was just flawless, there’s no need to describe it further than that. Gareth Gates has performed in the touring production of Les Miserables therefore even though he usually only has the pop industry applied to his name I was pleasantly surprised at hearing him sing Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Following this John re-joined the stage for a rendition of Suddenly, an extra song from the Les Miserables film, which smoothly transitioned into Bring Him Home. Finally all four performers joined together for a marvellous One Day More!, the perfect act ending.
Following the natural pattern the show had upheld, the second act began with the theme from E.T performed by the orchestra, after which the West End Gospel Choir performed a medley. Sarah then jaw-droppingly sang As Long As He Needs Me from Oliver!, reminiscent of her time in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s competition to find a Nancy – I’d Do Anything. Furthermore she proved yet again that a lead role is what she would be perfect for, and still now I would love to see her as Nancy!
Gareth then performed His Eye Is On The Sparrow followed by Ghost‘s Unchained Melody before being joined by Louise to sing Beauty and the Beast which was such a sweet rendition! They definitely kept the magic of the original in this number. Being back on the stage she’d made a home on, Louise had to sing Defying Gravity of course, and wow did she sing it out! I have to say it was very surreal seeing her sing this on the Apollo Victoria stage without a smidge of green on her, but she seemed to be much more relaxed doing so and it sounded fantastic.
Previous Phantom John returned to sing Music of the Night, reiterating the strength of his voice to the audience. The orchestra then performed a medley titled Christmas at The Movies which, as the title suggests, featured classic themes that can be heard in the known Christmas films. This then kicked off the finale segment of the show which was devoted to Christmas, and following the orchestra’s beautiful medley John performed O Holy Night. After which he was joined by the rest of the evening’s cast plus the West End Gospel Choir for a Christmas Medley and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The evening was hugely enjoyable and began December in style, getting everyone thoroughly in an inspired and Christmas mood. A triumph of four incredible musical theatre performers standing alone and wow’ing the audience and joining forces to create tremendous renditions of classic songs, a delight in my opinion!
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