In 1996 Andy Reiss and David Fawcett were asked to arrange and perform a series of musical theatre concerts for the MENCAP charity. They were both experienced musical theatre performers and the original concerts were a great success, so in 1999 they took the concert idea on a UK tour taking on the name “Beyond the Barricade”, because that is how they met first met, in the cast of Les Misérables.
The current show also includes the sublime vocal talents of Rebecca Vere and Katie Leeming, who are also musical theatre doyennes and have themselves been in the cast of Les Misérables in the West End.
David Fawcett acted as compère for the evening and spoke briefly about the songs and shows throughout the night. The show came out of the modern musical theatre movement and tonight’s performance featured songs from a lot of them: Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of Opera, Evita and Chess.
In the first act The Little Shop of Horrors was used to highlight different musical theatre characters, as Andy and Katie sang the duet ‘Suddenly Seymour’. David talked about musicals before the modern revival too, cue ‘Quartet’ from West Side Story and the Rebecca sang songs from Carousel, including the powerful ‘You’ll never walk alone’. The first act finished with examples of the “jukebox musicals” We Will Rock You, The Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia.
The second act began with songs from the Lion King. Followed by a comical treat from David and Rebecca singing ‘The Song that goes like this’ from Spamalot.
Throughout the evening Russ Kennedy on bass, Dave Williams on drums, David Lane on keyboard lead by Andy Reiss on keyboard provided live music throughout, with interesting arrangements and outstanding musicality. The singers interpreted the songs well, not always sticking exactly to the phrasing used in the show soundtracks I remembered, but this made me listen more attentively and not just let familiar songs wash over me. There were songs that I didn’t think worked very well, some of the vocals weren’t as clear as I would have liked and some performances were more befitting to a cabaret act instead of the West End.
Finally then the evening came to the show from which the evening took its name, Les Misérables. It was then that the singers’ talent truly began to shine, without exception, every performer brought their very best. Each expertly performed a solo piece: Rebecca as Cosette, Katie as Èponine, David as Jean Valjean and Andy as Inspector Javert. Andy and Rebecca took on the roles of the Thénardier’s in the joyous ‘Master of the House’. In addition we had the classic group numbers, which in the show would involve a much bigger cast, but with clever arrangements the quartet and band produced impressive performances that captured the essence of the show and enthralled the audience.
As the evening came to an end the audience were on their feet. A most enjoyable evening in a very beautiful venue.
Reviewer: Alan Harbottle
Reviewed: 30th January 2016