BWW Reviews: KERRY ELLIS, London Palladium, May 12 2013
Widely recognised as one of the leading ladies of the West End, Kerry Ellis embarked on the biggest solo performance of her career at the London Palladium. The evening promised to showcase songs from her most famous roles, her personal favourites and some surprises along the way.
The bar was set early on as Ellis opened with an ambitious Bond medley featuring Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Goldfinger and Live and Let Die backed by a fantastic band.
Ellis had promised some special guests and she certainly delivered. As she said at one point, "We don't do things by halves." The first guest of the evening was Rory Taylor, fresh from the UK concert tour of RENT playing Roger to Ellis's Mimi and they performed a beautiful duet of Without You.
It was hardly surprising that another of the special guests was Ellis's long-time friend and mentor Brian May. They performed an acoustic stripped-back set featuring I Who Have Nothing and The Way We Were followed by an electric version of Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Transferring seamlessly from what seemed like small intimate performances (Tell Me on a Sunday) to a showy Michael Jackson medley, plus songs from shows including Les Miserables and Oliver!, surprisingly not one song seemed out of place on the setlist despite the variety.
Vocal ability alone would not be enough to pull off a show of this scale and thankfully Ellis was able to inject huge amounts of personality into the evening. Linking the setlist with anecdotes, she is warm, funny and extremely likeable. The choir she used were students from Arts Ed London as she said she remembered what it was like being at college herself and how inspirational she found it getting to perform at events like this. Her pianist and MD was her friend Craig Adams and she showcased one of his songs, If You Could Know, with Olivier nominee Alex Gaumond.
Ellis is arguably best known for her role in Wicked and she pulled out all the stops to please her fans. She performed Defying Gravity as the last song before the encore, and united three other actresses who have played the role at the Apollo Victoria in London; Alexia Khadime, Rachel Tucker and Louise Dearman. So many strong vocals in one place could have been a disaster, but it had been well rehearsed and was an absolutely stunning performance from all four.
The evening would not have been complete without an encore performance of No One But You, which was her signature song in We Will Rock You. She was joined once again by the Arts Ed London choir and then finished with her new single The Kissing Me Song co-written by May.