Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
An Evening of Movies and Musicals does exactly what it says on the tin – a concert packed with popular songs and soundtracks from the stage and screen.
The four main soloists, Wynne Evans, Nathan James, Sandra Marvin and Sabrina Aloueche, all have very different voices and sing very different styles, which makes for a wonderful variety and despite their differences they all pack a powerful performance.
Marvin has a big voice, perfectly suited to her previous rôles of Matron Mama Morton in Chicago and Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray, and she brings some big numbers to the concert, most notably an amazing performance of ‘I Will Always Love You’ from The Bodyguard, which showcases both the subtleties and power in her voice.
Aloueche has enjoyed success in very different rôles to Marvin, including appearing in Les Miserables and We Will Rock You. She revisits both of these musicals in this concert, including a spine-tingling duet of ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ with James.
Evans, best known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare adverts, gives power and passion in abundance with his singing and wins the audience over from the outset with his natural stage presence and wonderful sense of humour. His introduction of the orchestra, insulting them section by section, receives the biggests laughs of the evening.
It is James however that steels the show. Best known for coming fifth in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Superstar programme, he proves there is much more to his talent than his rock star exterior. Performing songs from a variety of musicals, from We Will Rock You to West Side Story, James seems to relish singing with a live orchestra and his passion is infectious. One of the biggest surprises of the night is his portrayal of Jean Valjean from Les Miserables, performing a stunningly mature rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’. However the real high point of the whole concert is his breath-taking performance of ‘Gethsemane’ from Jesus Christ Superstar – superb!
The evening is hosted by BBC Radio Wales presenter, Chris Needs, who certainly knows how to play to a Welsh audience and does well to create a nice rapport. However, overly reliant on his cue cards and completely out of his depth singing the rôle of Thenardier in the concert’s finale, ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables, his presence seems a little unnecessary. Evans more than gets the audience on side with his banter and each of the soloists take turns to act as compere, allowing their personalities to shine through.
St. David’s Hall is the perfect venue for an orchestral concert and the Welsh Session Orchestra provide some wonderful moments. The flutes and strings playing ‘Out of Africa’ are beautiful and the clarinet section of the’ Superman’ theme is a joy to listen to. It is a shame then that the brass section have their off moments throughout the concert, most noticeably during the ‘Indiana Jones’ theme. The orchestra are also too overpowering when it comes to performing with the soloists, Stagecoach Theatre Arts and the community choir, detracting most in the performance of ‘Raise Your Voice’ from Sister Act. Despite Marvin’s best attempts to give the impression that she is struggling to get the choir to sing out and the joy when they finally do raise their voices, the effect is lost when the choir can barely be heard even when they are singing out.
Quality soloists singing a fantastic array of popular songs from films and musicals make this an enjoyable evening of music.
Photo by Keith Stanbury | Reviewed on 26th April 2014