Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Review: Sam Bailey Live at the Lyric Theatre

Sam Bailey Live
Lyric Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 12th October 2015

Since winning The X Factor two years ago, Sam Bailey has enjoyed a varied career. As well as topping the UK singles and album charts, Bailey has toured the UK, released her autobiography and dabbled in presenting. Now the singer has turned her attention to the world of musical theatre. As a self-confessed super fan of blockbuster musicals such as Les Miserables and Wicked, Bailey took to the West End's Lyric Theatre to show her dedicated supporters and casting directors a different side to her talents.

Bailey opened with Irving Berlin's 'Let Me Sing and I'm Happy' and immediately looked at home onstage. Her warm personality shone through the entire show; Bailey is incredibly 'real' and relatable which is why fans find her so endearing. Highlights from the first act included 'Let's Hear It for the Boy' from Footloose and 'Somebody To Love' from We Will Rock You, accompanied by the wonderful GSA choir.

Throughout the show Bailey was joined by some top notch guests. Performing 'Last Night of the World', Bailey relished her once in a lifetime opportunity to play Kim alongside West End leading man Michael Xavier. Union J's Jaymi Hensley impressed when he joined Bailey to sing 'Run To You' from The Bodyguard whilst Boys of the Barricade - whose reputation continues to glide from strength to strength - performed a unique arrangement of 'I Dreamed A Dream' from Les Miserables.

The second act kicked off with a sassy rendition of 'Fabulous, Baby' from Sister Act. Bailey has stated that she is determined to secure a musical role in the near future, and her heartfelt rendition of 'As Long As He Needs Me' from Oliver made it clear that Nancy is a part she would love to take on.

One of my favourite performances was Bailey's duet with leading lady Caroline Sheen. The pair’s voices blended beautifully as they sang 'Gimme Gimme' from Thoroughly Modern Millie. U.S. composer Scott Alan sat at the piano for two numbers, the latter of which saw Collabro join Bailey to show off their smooth harmonies. Other numbers included ‘The Wizard and I’ from Wicked, ‘With One Look’ from Sunset Boulevard and ‘Buenos Aires’ from Evita, during which Bailey was joined by some terrific dancers.

These one off concerts are always hard to bring together, yet Katie Pesskin’s production ran smoothly. Under the musical direction of Michael Riley, the band sounded magnificent although the levels were often too high. Some songs suited Bailey's voice better than others, but overall the set list was well balanced. I couldn't help but notice repeated lyric fluffs; however, Bailey held her own and I'm sure the majority of the audience were none the wiser. 

Bailey brought the evening to a close (and the audience to their feet) with a rendition of 'Memory' from Cats before returning with all her guests to belt out 'You Can't Stop The Beat' from Hairspray. There is no denying that Sam Bailey is a true star; she performed with grace and wasn't afraid to excel outside of her comfort zone. I'm sure we'll see her back on a West End stage in the not-too-distant future.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Visit Sam's website www.sam-bailey.com.

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