BWW Review: MAIN MEN OF MUSICALS, Cadogan Hall
The audience couldn't get enough at Main Men of Musicals, a concert at Cadogan Hall last night featuring West End stars Luke Bayer, Ben Forster, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Liam Tamne, and some very talented young choral performers.
The crowd applauded and whistled as the men belted hits from the musical songbook (I noticed a conspicuous avoidance of the word 'Broadway') in front of an orchestra. It was a reminder of just how far a good performer can go on his own, without a set, costumes, or even script: one minute we're in La Mancha; the next, a British classroom; and then Paris in the Restoration.
With voices like theirs, the main men could have filled the set list with excerpts from the phone book or Theresa May's speeches and still sounded fantastic. As it happened, some of the song choices weren't that far off: is anyone actually a fan of Starlight Express? Did no one wonder why The Pirate Queen flopped?
But that was also a great part of the charm of the evening. While I would have stacked the set list very differently (more Sondheim, less Lloyd Webber), the songs were obviously chosen by the performers themselves, each number reflecting the main man's musical, dramatic and comedic sensibilities.
Trevor Dion Nicholas, who is best known as the Genie in Disney's family-friendly Aladdin, went straight for songs from Chicago and Avenue Q. Luke Bayer swung sentimental, Liam Tamme had fun with character numbers, and Ben Forster belted the classics. When all four got together to sing "Luck be a Lady" from Guys and Dolls, they each approached the same character, the same voice, a little differently.
It was a reminder of just how much a performer brings to their own character. I am guilty - and I'm sure I'm not alone - of declaring one cast recording 'canon' and rejecting any other interpretation of the score. But music is a living thing, and as we've seen recently with a gender-swapped Company and the announced changes to Les Miserables, even the classics are new.
That's one of the reasons there's such endless joy in listening to talented young performers like the Main Men of Musicals - every time they approach the microphone, you know you're about to hear something new.