Tag Archives: Steven Webb

A Night For Jennifer, Lyric Theatre

1 Nov

A Night For Jennifer was a special gala concert in support of the Jennifer Charity. The Jennifer Charity was set up by James and Graham Edgington and supports widowed fathers and their children. You can find more about the charity here.

This one-off concert was produced by Chris Macklin and had a very impressive line-up, including some of the best performers in the West End as well as some up-and-coming talent.

I enjoyed the evening very much, though there were some performances I didn’t really like. But considering the diversity of them I think that was only natural.

Given the amount of talent involved in the concert I find it hard to single some of them out, but here we go.

I really enjoyed the Les Misérables songs, ‘On My Own’ (Sabrina Aloueche) and ‘A Heart Full of Love’ (Sabrina Aloueche, Gina Beck and Joseph Connor).

Joseph Connor

Joseph Connor’s ‘You and Me (But Mostly Me)’ from Book of Mormon was great. I’m a huge fan of the musical and loved seeing a song from it performed live (and so well!). Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of the second performer.

Hearing Rosalind James sing ‘Daddy’s Song’ (from Ragtime) again was wonderful. I loved it when it was on at the Landor. She has a unique voice.

I also liked Chloe Hart’s ‘Never Neverland’, the Bloomfield Avenue and Woman sections, Jeremy Legat’s ‘Could I Leave You’, Stephen Oliver-Webb and the Jennifer Choir.

Some performances completely stood-out for me though:

Chris Passey

The three songs from Chris Passey’s upcoming album. Chloe Hart’s ‘Worthy’ was incredible, as was ‘Self Taught, Still Learning’, which was sung by Nadine Cox  and the quartet (‘You Were Mine’) sung by Gina Beck, Jeremy Legat, Chloe Hart and Chris Passey himself. His songs are very melodic with beautiful lyrics. His album Self Taught, Still Learning is released on the 15th November and judging by those three songs it’s going to be a treat!

Steven Webb’s ‘How Do You Know ‘Til You Try Me’ from Betwixt. I’ve seen him in a couple of things in the past 12 months, but his stage presence never fails to amaze me. Wonderful performance.

Danny Lane

Being Alive was sung by Danny Lane. I thought his performance was breath taking. His voice just blew me away and he nailed that song (which is one of my favourite MT songs). Definitely one to watch out for!

I really liked the Jennifer Choir, but for me there were two performers who stood out and completely stole the Finale (Never Forget): Ziggie Sky Ward and Ben Vivian-Jones. Both have incredibly strong voices. Another two to watch out for in the future!

Special mention goes to James and Graham Edgington, without whom this concert would never have happened.

It was a very enjoyable evening, thanks to the hard work by everyone involved, so a big Thank You to them and I hope they managed to raise a lot of money for the Jennifer Charity!

Dougal Irvine’s ‘Acoustic Overtures’ Launch, Battersea Barge

30 Oct

Dougal Irvine is probably best known as the composer of the award-winning musical “Departure Lounge” that ran at the Waterloo East Theatre last year. On the 1st November he is going to release his debut album “Acoustic Overtures” on SimG Records.

Unfortunately some of the original performers couldn’t be there (apparently they are all in Colorado…), but it was a simply amazing afternoon and was a treat to hear all of the songs sung live.

The first song was “Mr Musical”, sung by the amazing Katie Bernstein. It’s a great song full of musical references. I’m still trying to work out how many exactly. Great fun and performance by Katie.

Next up was “Clean Cut Rapper”, sung by Dougal himself with Sarah Lark and Sarah Earnshaw as backing singers. Again, it’s a fun song and I think his sense of humour is brilliant.

The third song “Two Faces” was the total opposite of the first two. It’s a very moving and beautiful song, I fell in love with it when I heard Ashleigh Gray sing it back in April. This time it was sung by Sarah Earnshaw, who was incredible as well.

“Silence and the Rain” was sung by Dougal Irvine and Cassie McIvor. It’s another stunning song, probably one of my favourites.

Then Dougal sang “The Morning After You Do It”. It’s a very rocky song, loved it.

Katie Bernstein came back on stage to sing “Megan’s Hero”. It’s a lovely and quite fun song, loved her performance.

Next was “Tir Nan Og”, sung by Annalene Beechey and Dougal Irvine. I simply love Annalene’s voice, ever since I’ve heard both of them sing exactly this song at the Perfect Pitch Fundraiser last year. Hearing it again was just amazing and I still think that hers is the ultimate interpretation of this song.

The next song is not part of “Acoustic Overtures”. It was “Do You Know What I Think of You” from Departure Lounge, but with different lyrics and sung by Steven Webb and Dougal Irvine. It just was incredibly funny and one of the highlights for me.

Steven Webb then sang “Simple”. It’s such a beautiful song and suited Steven’s voice perfectly. Stunning.

Dougal then sang “Do You Want a Baby Baby”. Again a very funny song and I enjoyed hearing Dougal singing it himself.

The next song is not part of “Acoustic Overtures” either, “Values”. It’s a lovely song.

“Mermaids” was sung by Annalene Beechey and Sarah Lark. It was stunning, their voices sounded amazing and it’s a hauntingly beautiful song.

Sarah Earnshaw, Sarah Lark, Dougal Irvine and Peter White then sang “We Need Love”. For me, Sarah Earnshaw’s voice stood out in this song, but it’s another brilliant song.

The last song was “Song For Friends”, sung by Dougal again. It was the perfect ending for a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Dougal Irvine is an incredibly versatile and talented composer and this album is an absolute treat with some of the best performers in the West End . I’ve listened to it as soon as I got home and it sounds wonderful. It’s a great mix of songs and well worth buying. You can buy it British Theatre  and iTunes from Tuesday.

Sunday in the Pub with… – MTA Fund-Raiser

28 Sep

Sunday in the Pub with… was a cabaret fund-raiser for and organised by two current students of the MTA, Lorin Jane Forster and Kieran Grant. The MTA (Musical Theatre Academy) is a unique institution which offers a 2 year fast track course in musical theatre. However, as they are a very new institution, the students at the MTA are not eligible for grants or student loans and have to fund the whole training themselves. Therefore those two students came up with the idea of this cabaret. It seemed to me that they did not expect so many people to turn up, because the venue was very crowded (and incredibly hot!), but the excellent performances on stage more than made up for that.

There was a mix of current and recently graduated students as well as some special guests. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening, but there were some songs/performers that stood out for me.

I Want A Man sung by Lorin Jane Forster and Sophie O’Shea. I love this song by Michael Bruce and they did a great job with it.

Touch of Love is a song from Dougal Irvine’s musical In Touch (which will get its first full-length performance at the MTA – exciting!) and is also on Stuart Matthew Price’s album All Things In Time. Fantastic song and performance by both Dougal Irvine and Stuart Matthew Price.

CiCi Howells sang Tim Prottey-Jones’s song Rain On Me. This was another highlight for me. I loved her voice!

In Short from Edges never fails to make me laugh and Aaron Lee Lambert (who is currently in Shrek) had the audience in stitches.

Next up were some songs from Dougal Irvine’s musical Departure Lounge. First, Robbie Durham and Kieran Grant sang Do You Know What I Think Of You? and then Steven Webb, Jack Shalloo and Stuart Matthew Price (all Departure Lounge alumni) joined Dougal Irvine on stage for the other four songs. I really enjoyed hearing them sing the songs again. Steven Webb sang Sophie and he was superb and then they all sang Why Do We Say Gay and Left Spain. My favourite however was Jack Shalloo’s Picture Book, because it was the best I have ever heard him sing it.

From Up Here was sung by all the MTA students and I really enjoyed it. Their voices blended so well and it’s a lovely song.

Tir Nan Og is another song from In Touch and I can only agree with Ziggie Sky Ward (who was great), I also fell in love with it when I first heard it.

Lorin Jane Forster sang Laurence Mark Whythe’s David’s House. I heard that song sung by someone who has already played a leading part in the West End only a couple of weeks ago, but I prefered Lorin’s version by miles. Not only does Lorin have a stunning voice, but she also acted the song. Probably my favourite performance of the evening!

Jack Shalloo came back on stage to sing a song from his album London Soul. She Takes Care Of Me is a very catchy song and I liked it a lot.

I have heard Stuart Matthew Price sing Road To Heaven before, but it is such a beautiful song that it is always a treat to hear it again.

For the last song of the evening all the MTA students came on stage again to sing Sunday from Sunday in the Park with George. It was the perfect ending for the evening and a great reminder of just how much talent had been on that stage in the past three hours.

I hope Lorin Jane Forster and Kieran Grant managed to raise lots of money and I wish them (and the other students at the MTA) the best of luck for the future. They did a wonderful job in putting that evening together and I am glad I managed to go.

Now I am looking forward to seeing some of the recent MTA graduates in the UK premiere of Nevermore in a couple of weeks…

Betwixt, Trafalgar Studio 2

8 Sep

Better late than never! I saw Betwixt for the first time towards the beginning of its run and now agaain after some changes in the cast.

It  is not called a funny musical for nothing and the advice in the programme to not think too much and just go along with it should be taken to heart. Buf if you are prepared to do just that, you are in for two hour of blissful fun.

I find it quite difficult to say anything about the story without sounding totally daft, so I’ll just say that it is about a writer who suffers from writer’s block and, together with his new roommate, is then transported to an enchanted kingdom where he has to prove himself, finds the love of his life and eventually his confidence and new inspiration. On their way they encounter nymphs, cross-dressing mutes, a disembodied head and other fantastic characters.

While the story is  undoubtedlyvery funny, there are also more serious moments, which help to feel and root for Bailey (the write), and also Cooper (his roommate).

Bailey is played by Benedict Salter and, personally, I can’t imagine anyone else being as good as him as the “skinny ginger boy with a pencil”. He also has a very good voice, and he’s grown a lot in the role since I first saw it. They are not using microphones and he got drowned out sometimes, but I could understand him perfectly the second time. He also sings the, in my opinion, best song in the show, namely “Eyes of a Child”.

Steven Webb as his new roommate Cooper steals the show for me though. He is incredibly funny and flamboyant, but he also manages to make you laugh in one second and feel for his character in the next. The perfect example for this is the scene right before “How Do You Know (Reprise)”.

Ashleigh Gray once again shows what a beautiful voice she has, her Bavarian accent is hilarious and spot-on and she has great chemistry with the others, but her interactions with Webb’s Cooper are incredible.

Peter Duncan causes many laughs as Haydn Prince/Prince Haydn and especially as Garbo. “Fabulous Man” is amazing.

The ensemble members, Will Hawksworth, Alyssa Nicol, Vicki Lee Taylor, Rob Wilshaw and Kelly Chinery (replaced Vicki Lee Taylor on 22 August) are great, but Will Hawksworth deserves a special mention. His facial expressions (or lack of) are incredible and his comic timing is spot-on. Not only, but especially as Joan.

I have now seen both Ellen Greene and Lizzie Roper as Princess/Nymph Queen and Enchantress. They both play it completely different and therefore it’s impossible to compare them. There are some parts where I preferred Ellen Greene and others where I preferred Lizzie Roper. Having said that, I really miss the song “Between”. I’m sure they had their reasons why they cut it, but I thought it was the perfect ending and Ellen Greene’s rendition of it was breathtaking. However, I don’t think it would fit to Lizzie Roper’s characterisation. I still enjoyed it, but I couldn’t help feeling that Betwixt lost its heart with this particular cut.

The musical closes this Saturday and I strongly recommend to beg, steal or borrow (alternatively, buy!) a ticket if you haven’t seen it yet.It is one musical not to be missed, also because it all fits perfectly together: the music, the story and of course the incredibly talented cast!

Despite it being a funny musical, I left feeling all warm and fuzzy inside and I think that is because the characters are written so well that you can’t help being happy for them when they find their happy ending.

Go and see it before it is too late!