Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Review: Kings Of Broadway at the Palace Theatre

Kings Of Broadway 
Palace Theatre
Reviewed on Sunday 29th November 2015

On Sunday evening musical director Alex Parker and director Alastair Knights (aka the dream team) returned to the Palace Theatre with their latest concert Kings Of Broadway. The show celebrated music by three Broadway Gods: Jerry Herman, Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne.

From the second the house lights went down and the thirty-five piece orchestra (under the direction of Parker) began to play the overture from Gypsy I was transported to theatrical heaven - it became clear that we were in for an almighty treat.

Parker is known for gathering the finest performers in musical theatre, and his latest line-up was no exception. It was remarkable to see some fresh faces performing alongside a handful of West End legends. The standard was unbelievably high. Directed by Knights, the entire evening felt fine-tuned and classy, making it hard to believe we were watching a one-night-only show.

Anne Reid
Kings Of Broadway featured a ridiculous number of stand out performances - it is impossible to mention them all. Taking to the stage first was Emma Kingston to perform 'I’m The Greatest Star' from Funny Girl. Kingston showcased some Streisand vocal flair but also brought her own unique punch to the number, giving a hugely impressionable performance. It was a shame we didn't hear more from her later on - she is certainty one to watch in the coming years.

Janie Dee, Anna O'Byrne, Deborah Crowe and Jamie Parker were on hand to perform some of my favourite Sondheim numbers from Into The Woods whilst Laura Pitt-Pulford stormed the stage to give the most incredible rendition of 'Wherever He Ain’t' from Mack & Mabel I have ever heard - she is an absolute force to be reckoned with.

During a section dedicated to La Cage aux Folles, Jordan Lee Davies took to the stage in drag to perform 'I Am What I Am', marking one of the evening's most powerfully striking moments. Laura Tebbutt was on hand to work her charm with 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' from Gentleman Prefer Blondes before Richard Fleeshman unleashed his inner-showman for character song-and-dance number 'Buddy’s Blue' from Follies. 

The beloved James Bolam and Anne Reid united for a heartwarming performance of 'Almost Young' from Mrs Santa Claus. Earlier in the evening Celinde Schoenmaker showcased her stunning soprano range; she returned to close act one with a belting rendition of 'Don't Rain On My Parade' - the versatility of Schoenmaker's vocal talents is astounding!

The second half opened with an extract from Company during which the likes of Anna O’Byrne, Deborah Crowe, Jack North, Michael Colbourne and the charming Nadim Naaman all shone. Fra Fee and Laura Tebbutt gave a perfectly paced rendition of 'Move On' from Sunday in the Park With George before Alistair Brammer gave an effortless rendition of 'Johanna' from Sweeney Todd.

I have seen Bradley Jaden pop up in various concerts over the past few months and each time he has stolen the show. Kings Of Broadway proved no exception; Jaden gave a stellar performance of 'Maria' from West Side Story. He made a huge impression, giving a faultless rendition - the applause after his number went on and on.

Caroline Sheen, Zoe Doano & Celinde Schoenmaker

Next the Kings Of Broadway Leading Ladies - Caroline Sheen, Janie Dee, Anne Reid, Caroline O’Connor and Laura Pitt-Pulford - took to the stage. Each sat on a chair and took turn to stand for a solo number, with every performance providing an absolute masterclass. The final leading lady to perform was Pulford. Sheen, Dee, Reid and O’Connor had already set the bar exceptionally high, but somehow Pulford managed to raise it even higher. She was the second performer to steal the show, pouring her heart and soul into an exquisite rendition of 'People' from Funny Girl.

As Kings Of Broadway drew to a close, the entire cast united to sing 'Being Alive' from Company followed by 'Put On Your Sunday Clothes' from Hello Dolly. Unsurprisingly the audience were brought to their feet; it was a shame that the cast didn't return for an encore or final bow - they certainly left everyone wanting more.

Kings Of Broadway marked yet another spectacular concert from Alex Parker! Nothing beats spending a Sunday night with a thirty-five piece orchestra playing some of the most incredible music ever written. Kings Of Broadway celebrated Herman, Sondheim and Styne with style, class and respect. Whilst I was particularly bowled over by the talents of Bradley Jaden and Laura Pitt-Pulford, the entire cast of exceptional West End talent provided a night to remember. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

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