Thursday, 2 October 2014

Review: Kerry Ellis Live (UK Concert Tour) at the Leicester Curve Theatre

Kerry Ellis Live (UK Concert Tour) 
Leicester Curve Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday 27th September 2014

Known as the First Lady of the West End, Kerry Ellis is currently on the road with her first ever solo tour following the release of her self-titled, third album. This new show was inspired by the one-woman concert she performed last year at the London Palladium. The tour is stripped back with a smaller band and more laid back atmosphere. 

Ellis has played many of the most iconic female roles in theatre - from Meat in We Will Rock You and Elphaba in Wicked, to Fantine in Les Miserables, Ellen in Miss Saigon and Nancy in Oliver. This show celebrates and pays tribute to her career; however, the evening isn't theatrical at all. She may be performing stagey songs – such as 'As Long As He Needs Me' and 'I Dreamed A Dream' – but each number has received a 2014 Kerry Ellis makeover. Whilst respecting the originals, the new arrangements are consistent in style and sound extremely relevant and refreshing. 

The man behind these masterful arrangements is Mr Craig Adams who is one of theatre's most promising and exciting composers. It seems anything Adams touches turns to gold and I could listen to his arrangements all day. Highlights include 'I Could Have Danced All Night' (Kerry famously understudied Martine McCutcheon in My Fair Lady) and 'Who Will Buy' which is totally unrecognisable. 

The West End and Broadway performer teased that Adams is working on a new musical which could premiere at the Curve next year. Let’s hope he writes a part for Ellis as it is about time somebody created a new role for her to sink her teeth into. 

Ellis graces the stage with a huge amount of charm. Her chat between songs isn't overly rehearsed but flows naturally as she guides the audience through a subtle yet fun journey. A huge range of songs and genres are covered; there’s a James Bond medley, pieces by Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga and of course Queen (Ellis has been recording and touring with Brian May for years).

Ellis' vocal talents are very special and unique, she can hold back, belt or glide into her higher register with ease. Regardless of what she is singing, Ellis makes it look and sound so effortless. She also owns the stage and ensures the concert is engaging throughout. 

The highlight of my evening was Ellis' rendition of 'Take That Look Off Your Face' from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me On A Sunday which ended the first act. It was joyous to see Ellis let go and rip the song apart with her feisty vocals. Adams' arrangement is truly extraordinary; in fact it is so good I don't think I want to hear the original ever again. Ellis' voice glistened during 'Greatest Day' by Take That and shone throughout her Katy Perry mashup before casting a spell over the audience with 'The Way We Were'. Ellis may be a rock goddess, but it is an utter privilege to hear her voice accompanied by just an acoustic guitar. 

I noticed the occasional lyric fluff, although Ellis dealt with these well. I guess it's important to remember that in the week leading up to the concert she performed six Wicked shows and had been busy promoting her new album, all whilst being a mum. I'm sure these small glitches will be ironed out for the remainder of the tour.

The evening was superb and the set list was near perfection, although I thought it was a shame the concert ended with a rendition of 'Happy' by Pharrell. The song is nowhere near as impressive as everything else Ellis performed - concluding with something like 'One By One' would have left the audience feeling the 'wow' factor. The evening caters for everyone - there are big songs, small songs, slow songs and fun songs from different genres. 

Ellis has strong chemistry with her band, particularly her two backing vocalists (Caroline Deverill and Laura Selwood), both of whom showcase tremendous voices. The Madd College choir also sounded fantastic when they accompanied the West End and Broadway star for the finale. Ellis' new album was funded by fans who pledged money for special rewards, one of which being the opportunity to duet with her at one of her concerts. One of her pledgers joined her for a wonderful rendition of 'As Long As You're Mine' from Wicked which was a beautiful touch to the evening. 

Aspiring performers should watch and learn, musical theatre fans can expect to sit back and find themselves in heaven whilst those who aren't usually into theatre can look forward to being introduced to an incredible world they never knew anything about. Kerry Ellis provides an unforgettable evening of high quality, first class entertainment. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Visit for further information about Kerry Ellis' concert tour and new album.

No comments:

Post a Comment