REVIEW: Jason Robert Brown at the London Palladium ★★★★★
It is an ironic joke, one which Jason Robert Brown mentioned during the concert, that his musicals tend to fail on Broadway. When, judging by the buzz of audience who packed out the London Palladium as his fandom from across the pond, Brown’s genius composing speaks for itself.
There is something charming in the honesty of his performance which makes Brown magnetic. At the top of the concert, he admitted to being incredibly nervous and showed a genuine humbleness towards the performers, orchestra and general opportunity he’d been given by the BBC to have him on ‘Friday Night is Music Night’.
The composer certainly exhibited his highly respected position within the industry by calling on the crème de la crème of guest vocalists, each one a theatre legend in their own right. Rachel Tucker singing ‘Invisible’ – a song Brown wrote for a little girl in a wheelchair – passionately soared with all the bite only an ex-Elphaba can achieve. Betsy Wolfe (Waitress on Broadway) sang ‘I can do better than that’ with phenomenal ease and Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera on Broadway) nailed ‘Higher Love’ from Honeymoon in Vegas. The singers celebrated every note they sang of Brown’s music and the combination of their flawless vocals and the 60-piece BBC concert orchestra was certainly a gift.
Jason Robert Brown presents what the West End often forgets in the midst of commercial success, an ceaseless ardor for music.
Reviewed by Nicole Darvill-Batten