Reviewer: Joanna Trainor
John Barrowman is the third guest at Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway @Leicester Square series. Audra McDonald and Patti LuPone both having done similar concerts in the last few years. The format of these shows means that every performance is entirely different, even if you see the same artist twice. Which is entirely possible with the cult status that Barrowman has.
In the lead up to the concerts, Rudetsky and Barrowman rehearse various songs that have been important in his career and so could theoretically appear in the lineup. But the conversations that happen on stage can spark ideas for other musical theatre hits, so Rudetsky sprints round to his piano and Barrowman has to wing it. It feels entirely different to any other kind of cabaret you might have seen before, and the organic process provides so many moments of joy.
If you’re coming to one of these shows, presumably it’s for Barrowman. But Rudetsky’s unique, sassy interview technique means he could be chatting to your postman and it would still be hilarious. Desperately trying to pry the gossip out of his guest, Rudetsky’s dry wit and sarcasm makes him the perfect host for big musical stars. Although we obviously want to hear about successes, Rudetsky isn’t spending 90 minutes telling Barrowman how wonderful he is, because that doesn’t make for great theatre. Ultimately it is the rapport between the two that makes it such a good evening.
Listening to Barrowman sing on albums or concert DVDs can’t prepare you for the vocal powerhouse he is in person. He might have last sung these songs years ago, but the passion and emotion he puts into every performance makes the hair on your neck stand up. His voice fills the entirety of the intimate space at the Leicester Square Theatre and could easily to the same to a venue 10 times the size. It’s not difficult to see why Barrowman has had such a successful musical theatre career; not only is he a gifted actor and singer, he has that little bit of magic that makes him sparkle on stage – and that’s not just because of the shiny studded shoes he was wearing.
The West End needs Barrowman back, because as Rudetsky says he’s “Still got it gurl!”
Runs until 14 April 2018 | Image: Contributed