West End Switched Off – St James Studio
West End Switched Off is an exceedingly good show with a cast whose credits span a multitude of genres within musical theatre. Set in the intimate yet densely populated space that is the St James Studio, with the piano lit under a single light, the extremely talented band included: Keir Adamson on Drums, Adam Smith on Acoustic Guitar, Sam Swinnerton on Bass, all lead by musical genius Kris Rawlinson on Piano.
Opening the show was Jodie Steele as seen in the Fame UK Tour and the UK Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Steele sang Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar and closed the show with Let It Go from Frozen, showcasing her strong, high belting. West End man Rob Houchen, currently playing Marius in Les Misérables, delivered an entrancing version of Strangers Like Me from Tarzan as well as an intriguing and sentimental take on Andrew Lloyd Webbers Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from The Phantom of the Opera. Star of The Voice and current Les Misérables cast member, Jordan Less Davies, began his all female set for the night with a Disneyfied rendition of Just Around The River Bend from Pocahontas before showing his sassy side with Fabulous, Baby! from Sister Act and finishing up with a contemporised cover of I Dreamed a Dream, being a song he’s always wanted to sing.
Sophie Linder-Lee, current Glinda standy from Wicked and comedienne performed her stripped back version of You’re The One That I Want from Grease that she’ll be singing at a friend’s wedding soon. Linder-Lee then showed her excellent lyricist and comedienne skills performing her own song, King of The Underground: a song about the ‘animals’ encountered on the tube and London transport, receiving howls of laughter from the audience. Linder-Lee’s Wicked co-star Sam Lupton performed an Argentine Tango version of Do You Want To Build a Snowman from Frozen; providing great humour through the use eastern European character accents and slick choreography. Lupton previously opened his set with an interesting arrangement of Somewhere That’s Green from Little Shop of Horror’s, continuing with a sincere rendition of Where Is Love from Oliver!
Gloria Onitiri, primarily known for her role as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard in the West End, sang Dancing on the Sidewalk from Fame which was executed stylistically accurate for the alteration of the score by Kris Rawlinson. Onitiri also sang I Am Changing from Dreamgirls, and although Onitiri said she’d never play Effy White, she certainly did the song justice. Our first glimpse of Rebecca Trehearn and Aaron Sidwell were when they performed the duet, As Long As You’re Mine, from Wicked. Trehearn is known for being a great beltress with shows such as: Ghost, Dogfight and City of Angels and Sidwell for his roles in Loserville, Cool Rider and EastEnders. Their duet was performed with the appropriate simplicity for the size of the space of the St James Studio. Trehearn didn’t disappoint the expectations of being massively belty when singing Out Tonight from Rent and showing her more vulnerable side when singing the gorgeous Come To Your Senses from Tick, Tick… BOOM! Sidwell also sang Cool Rider from Cool Rider showing his edgy sound to rocky look.
The entire evening was slickly executed. The standout performer of the evening was Rob Houchen for his innovative interpretation of Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. The standout arrangement of the night was Strangers Like Me, due to Rawlinson’s clever use of tacet on the entire band except the drums, complimenting the lyrics of the song and creating such urgency in the music.
Reviewed by Thomas Yates