March 21, 2016  //  By:   //  Cabaret, Reviews  //  Comments are off

West End Switched Off

Parallel Productions returned to the St James Studio last weekend for two more sell-out shows of broken down, unplugged versions of classic musical theatre songs. Produced by Musical Director Kris Rawlinson (who I once said I wanted to musically direct my life and he very nearly did MD the 2015 Wilma Awards until he had to pull out at the very last second) these concerts are always a huge amount of fun and feature great line-ups of West End performers.

The beautiful, self confessed Disney fantatic Michael Vinsen (currently appearing in Kinky Boots) sang renditions of Heaven’s Light (from Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Love Is An Open Door (from Frozen) as well as duetting with Jodie Steele on the SMASH TV hit Heart Shaped Wreckage. Jodie (someone I have been a fan of since seeing her perform on the Battersea Barge just after she graduated) is a vocal powerhouse and gave great renditions of RENT classics What You Own and Take Me Or Leave Me (with Carolyn Maitland). Carolyn, who is always amazing when I see her perform (most recently seen playing Ellen in Miss Saigon) didn’t disappoint with renditions of My Funny Valentine (from Babes In Arms) and Don’t Stop Believing (from Rock of Ages). Sam Lupton (Wicked) brought a very special guest along with him (Princeton from Avenue Q) to perform a mash-up of Purpose from Avenue Q and I Wanna Make Magic from Fame which was very nice to hear (Fame is one of my favourite shows). Sam also gave a great performance of If I Only Had A Brain (from The Wizard of Oz) which was a nice acknowledgement to the years he recently spent in Wicked. Katharine Moraz stepped in for Emma Hatton to perform Last Night Of The World (from Miss Saigon) with Sam and they sounded great together. One of my favourite people Evelyn Hoskins (Rising Star Award Winner 2015 at the Wilma Awards) gave the stand out performance of the evening with rearranged version of My Favourite Things (from The Sound of Music, for which she played Liesel in the recent live television broadcast). Evelyn also gave amazing performances of Lost In The Wilderness (Children of Eden) and Touch Me (Spring Awakening). Sally Samad stepped in at the last minute to replace Tyrone Huntley who had to withdraw from the show. Sally gave great performances of Nature Boy, It Must Be Love and Summertime and was a real trouper for pulling it off at short notice.

West End Switch Off is a great concept of taking well known musical theatre songs and performing them in a new and interesting way. I look forward to more shows from them and more studio recordings to capture some of these great songs.

Reviewed by West End Wilma

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★★★★★ from the 2015 production of West End Switched Off 

★★★★ from the 2014 production of West End Switched Off