Reviewer: Greg Stewart
Following two successful concerts celebrating the role of women in musical theatre, Lambert Jackson Productions returned to London’s Cadogan Hall for a third outing, but this time celebrating the Main Men of Musicals, highlighting some of the best musical theatre numbers sung by men across several decades of musical theatre history, accompanied by a wonderful orchestra under the musical direction of Adam Hoskins.
As with their previous concerts, four celebrated performers took to the stage. The evening opened with the appropriately titled ‘Hello’ from The Book of Mormon allowing all four men to share the stage for this introductory offering, but across the night a varied programme saw them perform solos and duets from musicals across all different eras.
Lucy Drever hosted the evening, and in a slight change from previous concerts spent more time explaining where some of the less well-known songs had come from. One such number which required further explanation was ‘Waving Through a Window’ from Dear Evan Hansen. The fact that this Broadway hit which opens in London in November is still so unknown to the British public (including the Britain’s Got Talent judges, apparently) is a travesty, but thankfully Lambert Jackson had the foresight to ensure its inclusion. The opening bars of this particular song always give me goosebumps; having seen the show twice on Broadway, but my shivers escalated thanks to Luke Bayer’s outstanding rendition which easily rivalled that of role originator, Ben Platt.
Man of La Mancha, currently playing on the West End, was represented with the title track sung by Ben Forster. It made me wonder why this soaring and punchy song isn’t the one most talked about from this particular show, and concluded that it was the performer rather than song that made it sound so appealing in this instance.
Ben Forster also performed ‘Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera, it was the highlight of the evening, that is until he gave us ‘Gethsemane’ from Jesus Christ Superstar which earned him a well-deserved standing ovation all round.
Liam Tamne closed the first act with a glorious performance of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ from The Rocky Horror Show, having already demonstrated some fancy footwork in earlier numbers. Trevor Dion Nicholas wowed the audience with those powerful vocals, particularly in ‘Make Them Hear You’ from Ragtime. Nicholas also used a touch of American charm on his British audience, no more so than when it came to a little audience participation for ‘If You Were Gay’ from Avenue Q.
Two competition winners were invited to take to the stage, fifteen-year-old Rhys Bailey dazzled the audience with ‘Where is Love’ from Oliver which couldn’t possibly have left a dry eye in the house. The roof of the house was most certainly raised when Luke Redmore performed ‘Out There’ from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, prompting Lucy Drever to comment he’ll be worth keeping an eye on, I would have to agree.
Again, Lambert Jackson brought young performers right in to the heart of Main Men of Musicals. Incorporating choirs from Michael Xavier Masterclass and Goldmans Stage School, not only did they do a wonderful job of supporting the four ‘Main Men’ they became the 25 other Main Men of Musicals when performing their solo number ‘Seize The day’ from Newsies.
Four young men from Spirit Young Performers Company gave us a Jersey Boys Medley, which was undeniably superb. These hugely talented performers are part of a part-time performing arts programme, and given the quality of their performance it’s not difficult to see why Spirit is so highly regarded.
Once again, Lambert Jackson has given us a truly wonderful celebration of musical theatre, here proving that the Main Men of Musicals provide a wide and varied canon of work. Bringing these well-known performers together allows a light to be shone on forgotten or unknown songs, and on the performers of the future who were given the opportunity to stand on stage alongside their musical theatre heroes. With these concerts, Lambert Jackson are proving themselves to be true champions of musical theatre, and of the performers who bring these wonderful songs to life.