Theatre review: An Evening of Movies and Musicals, Edinburgh

Wicked diva Kerry Ellis singing Defying Gravity. Superstar’s Nathan James belting out Gethsemane. X-Factor winner Joe McElderry pleading to Sandy. Hollywood royalty Lorna Luft singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Joe McElderry and Kerry Ellis are two of the starsJoe McElderry and Kerry Ellis are two of the stars
Joe McElderry and Kerry Ellis are two of the stars

An Evening of Movies and Musicals - Usher Hall, Edinburgh

* * * *

The ingredients were all there for a five-star show, but this showcase didn’t quite get there. There were too many other elements, distracting and subtracting. Botched lighting cues, for one thing.

Choirs, for another – hundreds of backing singers, as far as the eye could see, as three community groups turned the Hairspray and Evita scores into the world’s noisiest porridge

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And as if those weren’t enough, a fourth got featured billing; Soul Nation – a gospel gang who’d wandered into the wrong show and kept on coming back.

Justifying his billing was honey-voiced Jai McDowall, selling ballads from Miss Saigon and Chess, while West End favourite Ellis brought huge melodic range to her duets with McElderry – I’ve Had the Time of My Life and Beauty and the Beast.

James’ appropriately passionate rendition of Gethsemane showcased his almost alarming rock tenor, while Somewhere saw him rein in the gutsiness to deliver a tender performance.

Luft shared warm, funny anecdotes before launching into The Man Who Got Away and her virtuoso Not Even Nominated medley, which framed famed Hollywood tunes overlooked at the Oscars, including a spine-tingling version of her mother’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Conducted by Matthew J Hampson, the sharp British Sinfonietta Orchestra enjoyed a few solo spots, including John Williams’ rousing Superman theme. I would have loved this concert to have been simply them accompanying Luft, Ellis, McElderry, James and McDowall, with more numbers from, and interaction between, the artists.

As is, the audience got its money’s worth but this is definitely a case where less would have been more.

Seen on 19.04.14