Emma Hatton Live
Reviewed on Sunday 1st May 2016
On her day off from playing the most demanding female role in the West End, last night Emma Hatton showed off a whole different side to her talents at the Pheasantry. The show was constructed around singer-songwriters that have heavily influenced her over the years; she put her own spin on everything and had clearly put the set list together carefully because nothing felt out of place.
The show featured everyone from Eva Cassidy and Carole King to Billy Joel and Chris Stapleton... and even Sia and Kelly Clarkson. I love a good stagey cabaret where performers sing a bunch of their favourite musical theatre songs, but it made a joyfully refreshing change to see a West End star shine as an artist in their own right.
From the second Hatton - who has been playing Elphaba in Wicked since February 2015 - opened the show with 'Ain't Doin Too Bad' and said "take it away boys" at the first musical interlude I knew we were in safe hands. Hatton immediately looked at ease on stage and had strong chemistry with her band of three, particularly with superb musical director Kris Rawlinson.
Every song was a highlight, but a few of my personal favourites included 'Black Coffee', 'The In Crowd', 'Bird Set Free', 'I Fall In Love Too Easily' and 'This War' whilst Hatton's rendition of 'Beautiful Disaster' was breathtakingly stunning. The chilled, jazzy musical style which ran through the show fits Hatton's voice like a glove. Her vocals are impressive; she doesn't over sing but isn't afraid to mix things up.
The evening featured two duets; first Hatton's friend Shona White, currently in Mamma Mia!, took to the stage for a rendition of 'You've Got a Friend' whilst in the second act Andy Coxon joined Hatton to sing one of my favourite songs at the moment, 'You Matter To Me' from new Broadway musical Waitress.
White and Hatton shared strong chemistry and their voices blended together beautifully. I'm obsessed with Waitress at the moment and fell in love with the show when I saw it a few weeks ago in New York; it's safe to say Hatton and Coxon did 'You Matter To Me' justice. Coxon's voice is absolutely sublime.
Hatton brought the show to a close with 'A Song for You', dedicating the number to her family. She performed with such raw emotion; it was a spellbinding moment. Whilst Hatton steered clear from showtunes, she still performed with good, healthy musical theatre technique - she gave us the best of both worlds.
Going forward, Hatton absolutely has to release an album - this was clearly just the beginning of an exciting new journey for the star. If and when she eventually leaves Wicked, it would be interesting to see if Hatton could find a way a way to interweave a little bit more musical theatre into her shows; I'm not suggesting she starts channelling Patti LuPone and screeches out 'I Dreamed A Dream' straight after performing a Billy Joel number, but perhaps she could find a way to turn a few songs on their heads - some sort of jazzy arrangement of 'No Good Deed' could work a treat.
I have never seen The Pheasantry so packed. Playing a blissful treat of a Sunday evening, Emma Hatton hit me with a breath of fresh air. She is a rare talent and one to watch.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
Visit Emma Hatton's website, www.emmahatton.com.