Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Review: West End Switched Off at the St James Studio

West End Switched Off 
St James Studio
Reviewed on Sunday 20th March 2016 

Marking the third concert in the West End Switched Off series, on Sunday evening musical director Kris Rawlinson took to the stage at the St James Studio with a bunch of West End stars and a terrific band to reinvent a plethora of showtunes. 

I see so many concerts which celebrate and pay tribute to musical theatre; whilst this is wonderful, it's such a joy to see a fresh and innovative concept with strong identity. My favourite numbers were those which had been completely turned on their head - in some cases tempos were turned upside down and songs were reshaped into different genres. Risks were taken and paid off brilliantly.

Sam Lupton was the evening's stand out star; having played Boq in Wicked, Lupton provided my personal highlight of the evening with his cool, slick and jazzy rendition of 'If I Only Had A Brain' from The Wizard of Oz. Later in the show Lupton brought some serious sass whilst singing 'Dance Ten, Looks Three' from A Chorus Line and was also joined by Katharine Moraz to perform 'Last Night Of The World' from Miss Saigon. Finally Lupton was reunited with his old chum Princeton The Puppet to sing the superbly constructed 'My Magic Purpose', a mash-up of numbers from Avenue Q and Fame. 

Evelyn Hoskins shined with her belty numbers, her stage presence is always captivating. WEF Award winner Carolyn Maitland's vocals dazzled throughout, her rendition of 'My Funny Valentine' from Babes in Arms was impeccable. Sally Samad may have stepped in at the last minute (due to the indisposition of Emma Hatton and Tyrone Huntley), but performed with confidence.

Ripping open his shirt to reveal a Disney t-shirt, Michael Vinsen charmed with several Disney classics. His vocals soared whilst his passion was endearing; I think we need some sort of Michael Vinsen sings Disney spin-off concert. Completing the dreamy line-up was Jodie Steele who was on fire; I didn't know it was possible to hit such extreme notes on a Sunday evening! Her rendition of 'What You Own' from RENT received one of the evening's biggest responses. 

A thrilling concept with an exciting future, Kris Rawlinson is unstoppable. Celebrating two sold out performances, West End Switched Off continues to glide from strength - I wouldn't be surprised if the concert series next returns to play the St James Theatre's main house. West End Switched Off is an absolute must see for open minded theatre fans. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Please visit www.parallelproductions.co.uk for further information.

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