Shoshana Bean is most famously known for being the first actress to play the role of Elphaba in Wicked the Musical on Broadway, after the characters creator Idina Menzel left the show in 2004. In 2006 she reprised the role on the 1st National Tour of America. Since then, Shoshana has released several albums and gone on to recently play Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and originate the role of Ceecee Bloom in the US premiere of the musical Beaches (based on the film made famous by Bette Midler).
Shoshana’s intimate, acoustic show at The Singers Lounge in Covent Garden was made up of a variety of songs from her albums which have a beautiful blues sound which complement her voice wonderfully. I was hoping to hear more of a mixture of musical theatre classics and her own songs but sadly there were only two or three songs I knew and I was surprised there wasn’t a single song from Wicked, which she is so famously known for. However, Shoshana has a beautiful voice and this show seemed to be aimed more towards her hardcore fans than at musical theatre fans in general.
What lets this show down is the venue. The Singers Lounge is located in the downstairs area of the Pizza Express restaurant in Covent Garden but it is not well laid out for this type of performance space. There are Pizza Express Live venues around London which are very well designed for these types of events, including the well known Pheasantry. Sadly, The Singers Lounge has the artist facing a wall and relies on turning from side to side to engage with the audience. Whilst every ticket is the same price*, there were obviously better seats than others and unfortunately I spent the whole show watching the guitarists back and very rarely caught a glimpse of Shoshana make it very difficult to connect to her performance.
At each of Shoshana’s London shows she will be joined by a special guest. Upcoming guests include West End star Louise Dearman and huge Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown. Last night Georgina Hagen sang her characters song ‘Nancy’ from Groundhog Day the new musical by Tim Minchin, currently playing at the Old Vic Theatre.
If you go, get there early as seating is on a first come first served basis and if you are keen to actually ‘see’ Shoshana in action then don’t turn up too close to the start time.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Shoshana Bean is in residency at The Singers Lounge 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 26th September and 2nd, 3rd October with an All Ages Matinee: Sunday 25th September. www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/shoshana-bean
*Since writing this review, the PR company have advised that press tickets are always put in Restricted View seats and the only tickets sold are ones with a full view of the stage. This review was written based on the seat and experience I had.