The Sound of Musicals (Birmingham Symphony Hall)
In the beautiful surrounds of the Birmingham Symphony Hall, we are treated to a very varied musical programme including works of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Sondheim, Boublil & Schonberg, Kander & Ebb and Andrew Lloyd Webber to name but a few. All are delivered superbly by Ruthie Henshall, Tim Howar, Graham Bickley and Deborah Myers. These type of concerts are very exposing for performers as they cannot hide behind lavish sets, costumes etc. But on the whole, they coped with it beautifully.
Ruthie Henshall has been a leading lady of musical theatre for nearly twenty years and has by no means lost any of her sparkle over that time. Many of the songs she performed in the concert are ones that she has delivered on West End and Broadway stages alike during her illustrious career; some of which are very iconic and largely associated with Henshall. She performs them like its the first time with so much passion and love for what she does. Henshall oozes charisma and gives the crowd exactly what they want. She is an absolute joy to watch. The last time I saw Henshall was in Marguerite in the West End nearly five years ago now. The second time I saw it, I was genuinely concerned for Henshall's vocals as they seemed strained; unsurprisingly considering the incredibly challenging range required. But there is absolutely no question that she is still on top form and I can't wait to see what she turns her hand to next. 'I Dreamed A Dream' and 'All That Jazz' are personal favourites from yesterday afternoon - all demonstrated her versatility as a performer. I could watch her all day.
From one mesmerising performer to another, Tim Howar (Henshall's equally talented ex-husband) also gives us some unbelievable performances, notably 'Bring Him Home' and 'Anthem'. It was only Wednesday when I saw Rock of Ages in London in which Howar is currently starring as Stacee Jaxx. He gave a wonderful vocal performance then but this concert demonstrates that Rock of Ages is merely the tip of the iceberg in comparison to what he is actually capable of. Howar is a very in demand performer at present and it is definitely not hard to see why. Phenomenal.
Graham Bickley has had a twenty five year strong career and has starred in a vast array of shows. He too gives some wonderful performances including 'Empty Chairs At Empty Tables' and 'I Won't Send Roses'. I was slightly surprised though when Bickley seemed to lose his way slightly at the end of 'Music Of The Night' and during some of the songs that were delivered as a quartet. It did not impact greatly but for an established performer, it was a bit of a shame.
Deborah Myers is the final vocalist and admittedly I was unfamiliar with her work. Looking at all of her credits though, she has done a great deal and judging by her vocal prowess, I will certainly remember her now! With a very classical soprano range, she delivers songs from West Side Story and Phantom Of The Opera with grace and conviction.
The concert ends with a medley of Mamma Mia songs which, in my opinion, probably wasn't the greatest way to end such a wonderful show but the audience were up dancing and clearly enjoyed it.
A very enjoyable afternoon's entertainment.