REVIEW: WOMAN: West End Live Lounge 2017 (The Other Palace) ★★★★★

The Other Palace was packed full to the brim for WOMAN – a one-night-only cabaret evening celebrating the work of some of the most influential and iconic women in the world of music. All proceeds from the evening were donated to Women’s Aid – a charity focussing on helping women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse.

Featuring the likes of Rachel John, Liisi La Fontaine, Marisha Wallace, Carolyn Maitland, Rob Houchen, Paul Wilkins, Jodie Steele, Emma Lindars, Natalie Green and Madalena Alberto and many more, the evening was full of big voices and was an absolutely smash-hit success.

Our host for the evening was Mr Samuel J Holmes: a man so naturally witty and downright hilarious, I could have quite happily sat there for 2 hours and listened to him talk on his own. The audience were putty in his hands. I hope to see him host another event of this kind in a bigger venue to see how he fares – no doubt he’ll make it look easy!

24 songs were sung by different artists during the evening – all by the biggest Divas in show business: Whitney Houston, Etta James, Cyndi Lauper, Sia, Shirley Bassey, Adele etc. While there were some serious powerhouse belting ladies in The Other Palace that night, I must give first props to Rob Houchen who sang Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” so well, I actually forgot how to breathe (genuinely). Also representing the boys was Matt Harvey who only 24 hours previously I saw perform in Mack & Mabel (LMTO) who covered Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity” whilst accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. I had shivers – it was beautiful. Rachel John closed Act 1 with a sensational medley of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “You’ve Got A Friend” which almost blew the roof off the theatre.

Throughout Act 2, there were some real treats – Emma Lindars paid tribute to Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” with an awesome performance to kick things off again. Rob Houchen (again) but this time with fellow Marius (or as he said “Mari-i… like Cacti”) Paul Wilkins, delivered a tender and soft version of Eva Cassidy’s “Fields of Gold” which left me in bits. One of my favourite numbers of the entire evening was Jodie Steele’s cover of “Dear Mr President” by Pink. She sang with such emotion and sincerity, the audience was absolutely silent in awe.

There was a real sense of anticipation for Liisi La Fontaine and Marisha Wallace who both delivered mind-blowing vocals and roused the crowd up for the epic finale of Listen (from Dreamgirls). Wallace has such a warm and energised stage-presence which made her irresistible to watch.

The evening was utterly glorious. To the organiser Shaun McCourt, I say PLEASE arrange these Live Lounge performances again and again, but in bigger venues! They are so wonderful to be a part of – joyous fun and full of admiration for the talent from start to finish. More people deserve the chance to see how sensational our West End Stars truly are and for more worthy causes.

Reviewed by Harriet Langdown