Tuesday, 19 November 2019

‘West End’ show more than lived up to its star billing

‘West End’ show more than lived up to its star billing

Stars of the West End | Kenton Theatre | Sunday, October 20

“THIS is the moment,” sang Mike Sterling, and it certainly was — the audience were spellbound as the tonal depth and sincerity of Mike’s commitment to his performance drew a collective breath from the auditorium.

The band had opened with a medley of familiar West End hits, then the singers burst on to the stage looking to give us the whole spectrum of musical theatre in one concert.

Ross William Wild gave us Elvis in Blue Suede Shoes and Hound Dog, where he plucked out an unsuspecting woman from the audience to dance with. His rhythmic energy and superb voice were a delight.

Jenny Fitzpatrick as Tina Turner got the audience clapping along to Simply the Best and if you closed your eyes it was easy to imagine that Tina was there on stage.

Then came an unexpected moment as Mike, clearly moved, announced that Vince Hill was in the audience and would he mind singing Edelweiss?

We were all stunned as, to the backdrop of the Austrian Alps, Vince began to sing the song that made his name all those years ago, his voice just as beautiful and expressive as it ever was.

The set from Les Misérables contained very moving performances: Ross singing Empty Chairs at Empty Tables and Bring Him Home from Mike to a hushed audience will stay with me for a long time.

Jenny and Shona Lindsay joined them for the final medley and then the first half was over.

The second half opened with Mike as “Phantom” — a role he performed more than a thousand times at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London — and he and the band captured the musical drama of the big stage magnificently, with Shona’s high notes as Christine suitably powerful and piercing.

Again, this was a role she had played on the London stage with Mike.

The Music of the Night was seductive and hypnotic as Mike lured Christine and the audience into his world.

Following this, the Grease set was fun to watch and the mood changed with the cast switching characters effortlessly.

Then the Kenton rocked to Queen with clapping, waving and joining in the singing: Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, A Kind of Magic and, as an encore, We Are the Champions to a standing ovation.

What a triumph this show was. The audience were richer in spirit for having experienced at close quarters these consummate professionals from the West End stage.

Full credit, too, to the live musicians who made it all possible: Jon Ranger on keyboards, Lewis Osborne on guitars, Bret Vanderburg on bass, Tim Goodyer on drums and musical director Duncan Waugh on piano.

Pamela Chilvers

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