May 31, 2019 admin

London Theatre 1: Main Men of Musicals at Cadogan Hall

Reviewer: CHRIS OMAWENG

There are concerts where the up and coming get showcased, and one applauds politely, because, you know, it takes some guts to get up there and do your thing in front of a paying audience. In the end, they did their best and they had a go. But the winners of a competition held by the producers of Main Men of Musicals were quite brilliant, and there is no need to be kind or diplomatic – they were both nothing short of splendid. It could well be that Rhys Bailey and Luke Redmore could be headlining musical theatre concerts themselves in the future. The competition prize was the opportunity to perform a song at Cadogan Hall for this event, and entry was by way of a one-minute video recording of a musical theatre song of the entrant’s choice, submitted to the producers by a certain deadline. The producers were themselves the judging panel and, it being their show, their decision was final.

Bailey, 16 years of age according to his Spotlight profile (from my vantage point he looked more like someone in Year 9 than Year 11), did a pitch-perfect rendering of ‘Where Is Love?’ from Oliver!, with the kind of stage presence that will stand him in good stead should he wish to continue to pursue his dream of treading the boards. Redmore, a final year musical theatre student at the Epsom-based Laine Theatre Arts, gave an engaging performance of ‘Out There’ from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

These weren’t the only singers aside from the four ‘main men’ (in no particular order, Ben Forster, Luke Bayer, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Liam Tamne). The Spirit Young Performers Company have previously made appearances on national television and at the annual West End Live event, and their selection of tunes from Jersey Boys demonstrated their vocal harmony abilities superbly. The Goldman’s Stage School, largely based in Brighton with some classes held in Eastbourne, took the lead for ‘Seize The Day’ from Newsies The Musical, which has never been professionally produced in the UK (I understand it has had some student productions, most notably one at ArtsEd in west London), and a number of other showtunes were accompanied by MX Masterclass, a musical theatre training academy for 10 to 25-year-olds that holds classes on Shaftesbury Avenue on Sundays.

A good musical theatre concert will have a mixture of the familiar and the obscure (for want of a better word), as well as a wide range of different showtunes – in short, something for (almost) everyone. Main Men of Musicals was a roaring success on those criteria. Forster, reprising the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, got a deserved standing ovation for ‘Music of the Night’, and another one after ‘Gethsemane’ from Jesus Christ Superstar, and in both cases, as well as many others, some credit is due to the dozen or so musicians under the baton of Adam Hoskins. Bayer reprised the title role in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (for which he was the alternate) for an enthusiastic ‘And You Don’t Even Know It’.

Trevor Dion Nicholas veered from playful jester in ‘If You Were Gay’ from Avenue Q to meaningfully poignant in ‘Make Them Hear You’ from Ragtime, the latter having one of the most magnificent musical theatre scores I have come across to date. But I haven’t seen Paint Your Wagon, a musical which hasn’t had a West End production since 1953, and with audiences still awaiting (at the time of writing) the opening of the London production of Dear Evan Hansen, ‘Waving Through A Window’ is a number I have yet to hear in its proper context (suffice to say that “tap, tap, tapping” is what a considerable number of people do, at least on their phones).

A majestic medley comprised of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s best-known works, Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, rounded off an evening that was, overall, joyous and uplifting. Full marks for a most enjoyable and entertaining evening. I’d see it all over again if it were possible.