BWW Review: LEADING LADIES, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Musicals In Concert is a production that has been coming to Glasgow between Christmas and New Year for quite some time now. While the cast differs each year there are some regular performers and this year they're doing things a little differently. The show is called Leading Ladies and features an all-female cast of four women who are at the top of their game in musical theatre. The ladies in question are Kerry Ellis, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Louise Dearman and Linzi Hateley.
The evening has been well structured. Opening with "America" from West Side Story as a group number, the performers take turns with the solo numbers and return for duets and group performances. All four are exceptionally talented and the songs have been well chosen to show off the different strengths and tones that they have. The way the songs are performed allows for the cast to inject their own personality into them and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is particularly playful with some of her numbers which is a joy to watch.
It would be all too easy to have everybody perform the songs from the shows they are known for, but I also think you would feel cheated if they didn't take the opportunity to have Kerry Ellis sing "Defying Gravity" and "No One But You" with a full orchestra. We were also treated to Louise Dearman singing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and "The Trolley Song" which are from productions she has previously toured with in Glasgow.
It is hard to choose a highlight from the evening as there were so many wonderful songs but for me it has to be Kerry Ellis and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" from RENT. I had been hoping for a little Murder Ballad reunion but it wouldn't really have fitted the tone of the rest of the evening!
The production is also well balanced with the different eras of musical theatre songs. Linzi Hateley superbly tackles the likes of "Tell Me It's Not True" from Blood Brothers and "Send In The Clowns" from a Little Night Music which sit comfortably alongside the more contemporary songs performed.
It is a rare treat to hear some of these songs stripped back like this. Without the costumes, sets and a large ensemble cast that accompany these big musicals, you get to experience how beautiful these songs are. The Scottish Concert Orchestra are the perfect accompaniment to this production and the arrangements of the songs are absolutely wonderful.
Glasgow was the final night of the short tour and they ended with a stunning and goosebump-inducing "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel performed as a group. There was also a sneaky little encore that followed which never fails to have the audience up on their feet. It was a rare opportunity to see this ensemble perform together and so special to hear some of these songs in this format.
Photo credit: Raymond Gubbay