Thursday, 30 June 2016

Editor's Blog: Erich Bergen, Jordan Lee Davies, Wicked Young Writers Award + more

Erich Bergen makes his London debut

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

Earlier this week U.S. performer Erich Bergen made his London debut with two solo shows at the London Hippodrome. The show featured music that inspired Bergen growing up, some material from his albums, as well as a tribute to his theatrical career which most notably saw him play Bob Gaudio in the U.S. touring and Las Vegas productions of Jersey Boys, before reprising his performance for the film adaptation.

Bergen put on a wild evening; he let loose on stage and gave us a taste of what he's all about. Bergen certainly knows how to tell a story and brought all the material together smoothly. Special guests Cassidy Janson and Charl Brown set the stage alight, but the highlight of the evening was when Bergen was joined by former UK Jersey Boys stars Stephen Ashfield, Tim Driesen and Michael Watson to form a Jersey Boys supergroup - many were brought to their feet. Bergen put on a superb evening with a terrific band - let's hope he returns to the UK again soon.

★★★★ | Read our interview with Erich | Visit for information about upcoming concerts at the London Hippodrome.

Wicked Young Writers Award restores faith 

Photo Credit: Matt Crockett

Hours after the EU referendum result was announced, my faith in this country was restored after attending the 2016 Wicked Young Writers Award at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Now in its 6th year, the Awards are all about inspiring young people to use writing to express themselves by producing unique and original pieces of prose and poetry. Over 100 shortlisted finalists and their families and teachers attended the ceremony, creating an extraordinary buzz in the theatre.

Hosted by Gaby Roslin, the ceremony saw principal cast members of Wicked take turns to read the winning pieces. For the winners - some as young as 5/6 - to see their work read by professional actors on a West End stage must have been quite something! The event was heartwarming from beginning to end, the standard of work was consistently high. Laura Emmitt, who understudies Elphaba, opened with a strong rendition of 'The Wizard and I' and was later joined by Savannah Stevenson (Glinda) and the company to perform a wonderful rendition of 'For Good'. A huge commercial show such as Wicked doesn't have to organise an event like this - hats off to all involved for finding new ways to encourage the next generation talent. 

Please visit for further information.

Jordan Lee Davies redefines sass

Fresh from leaving the West End production of Les Miserables, over the weekend Jordan Lee Davies performed his new cabaret Treat Yourself at the Pheasantry. Redefining the meaning of sass, Lee Davies put on an unforgettable night packed with stagey treats. He has the most incredible voice which can effortlessly switch from pop/jazz to more classical legit musical theatre. Whether he was belting out 'The Wizard and I' or giving us some Disney, Lee Davies seemed to be having an absolute ball - and so was every single person sat in the audience.

Special guests included Phantom's Celinde Schoenmaker who can do no wrong as well as recent graduate Lauren Drew who took everything in her stride whilst showing off insane vocals. The highlight of the night came when Lee Davies sang a little medley of the songs he didn't get to sing in Les Miserables. With a classy arrangement by musical director Alex Parker, the medley brought the house down and is certainly something that could be developed further. Treat Yourself is probably the most enjoyable solo concert I've seen all year - the next time Jordan Lee Davies puts on a solo show, make sure you grab yourself a ticket.

★ | Click here to visit The Pheasantry's website

Close To You cast album released
Photo Credit: Craig Sugden

It's been a long time coming, but finally the Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined cast recording has been released! Capturing the essence of the show (which ran at the Menier Chocolate Factory before transferring to the West End) beautifully, the double disc album does not disappoint.

Last week I attended the album launch party at the Ivy which saw the show's co-creator and star Kyle Riabko reunite with some of the cast. Riabko performed a few songs from the album acoustically - you could have heard a pin drop. Also in attendance was the legend that is Burt Bacharach himself who said some very kind words about the show and album. Bacharach is a huge supporter of Close To You, having attended all three of its opening nights in America and the UK. He then sat at the piano to accompany Riabko and the cast in attendance for a very special rendition of 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head'. I'm excited to see what lies ahead for Riabko and this stunning little show.

Nadim Naaman storms the charts

Whilst starring as Raoul in the West End production of The Phantom of the OperaNadim Naaman has somehow found time to top the iTunes vocal charts with his second solo album. Entitled Sides, the album reflects both his talent for songwriting and passion for musical theatre. Naaman's own material is what I describe as 'easy listening' - he has done a brilliant job and shows off a different side to his personality. The covers on the album are fun, he's put his own spin on a few of the songs whilst staying true to the originals. Featuring a whopping nineteen tracks, Sides is certainly worth checking out - you essentially get two albums for the price of one!

Last week I popped along to the album launch for Sides which was held at the London Hippodrome. Naaman soldiered through a mammoth set list. In addition to showcasing tracks from the album, it was nice to see Naaman performing some of his musical influences - it was quite something to see a show which featured everything from original material to Jason Robert Brown, to Michael Jackson! Naaman is a musical artist who knows exactly what he wants to do. Hats off to him for doing his own thing with his own music whilst still staying true to his roots in musical theatre.

Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

No comments:

Post a Comment