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Colm Wilkinson (Tour - Edinburgh)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Colm Wilkinson: it's hard to think of four syllables more evocative of musical theatre. This is a man who has breathed life into some of the most iconic and lasting roles in theatre: an Irish tenor who first led Jean Valjean to the barricades in Les Miserables; the performer to have first walk the fatal line between Jekyll & Hyde; the first man to find the music beneath the mask of The Phantom of the Opera.

And, in the same week as his fellow Miserable, Patti LuPone, takes to the stage in London, Colm Wilkinson continues his world tour in spectacular fashion. The show, an eclectic, toe-tapping mix of songs from Broadway, country and rock 'n' roll features numbers like theatrical torch song "This is the Moment", Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and a breathtakingly beautiful version of "Danny Boy". Wilkinson's style is both dynamic and entrancing, effortlessly moving from technically perfect pieces of musical theatre to altogether more primal and emotive displays. His unflappable falsetto has held as beautifully as the note which ends "Bring Him Home" in Les Miserables - indeed, his performance of that particular number is every bit as exceptional and flawless as it does on the show's original cast recording.

The first act of the evening is intimacy incarnate, an engaging mixture of anecdotes, personal musings and well-delivered jokes knowingly "stolen from Dave Allen". The informal atmosphere makes watching Wilkinson perform in the enormous auditorium feel like a private set in a Dublin pub. Indeed, if you asked Colm to run to the bar and grab you a glass of wine, he probably would. Though this this makes the evening initially feel a little unfocused, by the second act the style feels wholly conversational and natural.

Though the voice is the focal point of the evening, there are a few production niggles that belie the standard of the piece as a whole, particularly in the evening's lighting. Whilst nothing is glaringly off-putting, the quality of the production does not match the quality of the star. Wilkinson's backing singers, too, could do with a little more of that theatrical presence.

Nonetheless, this is a evening in the presence of a genuine theatrical superstar who has managed to hold on tight to greatness. Wilkinson is every bit as outstanding as he was 30 years ago.


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