Reviewer: Rebecca Cohen
He became a household name more than a decade ago after winning over viewers on BBC talent show Any Dream Will Do – the hunt for a leading man in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He has since gone on to take leading roles in huge West End and touring productions, including Fiyero in Wicked and Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and has also turned his hand to television, becoming a regular on both Casualty and Holby City and ultimately proving that any dream will do if you put your mind to it.
In his ten-year anniversary tour, Mead combines songs from his latest album – a mix of pop and musical theatre classics – with some of his other favourite hits. He intersperses his singing beautifully with anecdotes about his time backstage and treading the boards, and also opens up in a Q&A session with the audience. He shows a real warmth to his personality, talking from his heart about his little girl, his ambitions for the future, and his journey from being a South End boy unable to pay drama school fees to a musical and television star. He is at once humble, comedic and charming, and it is clear to see exactly why he was picked as the public’s winner back in 2007.
During his performance at The Lowry, in Salford, he explained to the audience how, even now, he still gets nervous before a show and that it normally takes at least three or four songs before he feels truly relaxed and able to perform at his best. This is absolutely true – his first songs were by no means bad, but neither were they the flawless vocals he was giving 20 minutes into his show. Being under the spotlight without the big set, the lighting rigs, the ensemble, and the costumes is extremely exposing, leaving little room for error, but Mead shows himself to be a real master of his trade. During his Salford stint, he was also joined by friend and Casualty actress Amanda Henderson, who gave some stunning performances throughout the night, including a duet with Mead of As Long as You’re Mine from Wicked.
Accompanied by a live band, Mead’s musical theatre moments do surpass those of his pop interpretations, but that said his rendition of The Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black, a number he performed and received critical appraise for during his time on Any Dream Will Do, is unbelievably powerful. The stand out moments come from his performances of songs from Miss Saigon, Wicked, and Les Miserables, the latter of which is a show Mead has not yet starred in but is very much on the bucket list (casting directors, take note). But above all, it is Close Every Door, the very song that made us fall in love with Mead in the first place, that steals the show, ending the first half with a number that leaves many audience members on their feet.
Intimate and nostalgic, this is perfect gig for any musical theatre lovers or Mead fans who want to take a trip down memory lane to where it all began. A technicolor treat that will certainly brighten up your night.
Reviewed on 23 March | Image: Contributed