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Broadway in Concert .. 16-17 November 2016
Broadway in Concert Back in the summer we heard that Lee would be part of an all-star West End line-up performing with the Novello Orchestra in their new show 'Broadway in Concert' at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 16 November and the London Palladium on 17 November 2016. Taking hit songs from musical theatre and adding a good band and a few West End stars is a tried and tested formula for a successful concert... sometimes though, when the ingredients are just right, and are mixed with care and passion and imagination, the format is lifted from the enjoyable to the truly magical. This was such a show.

First, the orchestra... superb musicians one and all who, with their charasmatic and passionate leader, David Mahoney, were as much stars of the show as the singers they accompanied, indeed you might say the singers were there to accompany the orchestra!

Next, the music... with such a rich source of material, crafting a set list can be a challenge in itself, but along with a few obvious choices drawn from the biographies of the show's stars, came others that made the absolute most of the incredible array of vocal talent on offer, and yet more that gave the orchestra their own much-deserved time in the spotlight.

And finally, the voices... starring with Lee were Ben Forster, star of Andrew Lloyd Webber's arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and currently playing the title role in Phantom of the Opera; Sophie Evans, whose credits include the Palladium production of The Wizard of Oz and Lord of the Dance on Broadway; X Factor winner and star of Memphis the Musical, Matt Cardle; and one of the most decorated leading ladies of musical theatre, Kerry Ellis, whose starring roles include We Will Rock You, Oliver and Wicked.

From the orchestra, there were medleys from Sweet Charity and Chicago to open the two halves, with other interludes too - from Smash, the original number 'Mamma Makes Three', and in the second half 'Tuxedo Junction' - all played with that immensely powerful combination of great skill and great joy. And for the singers, stage time was beautifully balanced, giving each artist their time to shine whether singing the songs for which they are best known or something completely different. If memory serves, in addition to a few more numbers mentioned further below, the programme included:

  • from Sophie - 'Good Morning, Baltimore!', 'Don't Rain on My Parade', 'On My Own' and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow';
  • from Matt - a stunning 'Memphis Lives In Me' followed by Queen's 'Who Wants to Live Forever';
  • from Ben - a trio of songs from roles past and present 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 'Gethsemane' and 'Music of the Night';
  • from Kerry - 'Only the Good Die Young', 'Come What May' with Ben and, of course, 'Defying Gravity'; and
  • from Lee - four songs which, on reflection, couldn't be more different in style... in the first half, the power and passion of 'Being Alive' contrasting with the gentle yearning of 'Hushabye Mountain' from his most recent outing as Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and in the second, a duet I write of below and the song he said himself will be inscribed on his tombstone, 'Any Dream Will Do', ably assisted by the audience in lieu of a children's choir.

  • Broadway in Concert It's always interesting to hear other artists perform songs we've come to know and love as Lee sings them... Kerry's powerful, rocky 'Anthem' and Matt's beautifully sung 'Bring Him Home' both had a different feel to them to Lee's intense, emotional delivery and were undoubtedly and uniquely theirs. But my personal highlight of the night was a duet I've long wanted to hear Lee sing live... of course if I'd caught him as Chris on the UK tour of Miss Saigon back in 2005, I'd have heard it long ago but somehow I'm glad I didn't. For his voice now is even better than when first I heard it and this song - 'The Last Night of the World', performed with Sophie and this wonderful orchestra - took my breath away.

    The five stars joined forces to sing, rather appropriately, 'Ease On Down the Road' to bring this fabulous evening to a close and the orchestra played out - crowd clapping along to the end - with Legally Blonde. What an absolute treat of a show, start to finish.

    Lee's full concert schedule (including past appearances) can be found at - CONCERT DATES

    Last updated: 21 November 2016
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