REVIEW: WEST END WOMEN (Cadogan Hall) ★★★★
It was ‘ladies’ night’ again at Cadogan Hall recently, where Lambert Jackson held a companion concert to their previous shindig “There Is Nothing Like A Dame”, in August 2018. In very much the same vein as that (brilliant) production, “West End Women” saw three of London’s biggest and brightest talents take to the stage, with another selection of soaring tunes that let the trio of leading ladies truly sing their socks off.
Making up the cast this time were Celinde Schoenmaker (Les Miserables, Phantom, On The Town), Lauren Samuels (BBC’s Over The Rainbow, We Will Rock You, Bend It Like Beckham), and Rachel John (Memphis, Hamilton). Between them, they took the audience on a journey from Rodgers & Hammerstein to ‘The Witches Of Eastwick’, and as is to be expected with a cast of this quality, there wasn’t a duff note to be heard.
I’d seen Lauren and Celinde perform before in various shows, but Rachel was new to me, as I am one of approximately twelve people on the planet who have never seen ‘Hamilton’. Yes, we do exist. She showed perhaps the greatest range of the three women in terms of performance styles, but all three of them were truly brilliant, and made hitting those notes look effortless.
Where the ladies truly excelled was in the songs that demonstrated their skills as actresses as well as singers, which was showcased to best effect in the group performances of the “Cell Block Tango” (‘Chicago’) and “At The Ballet” from ‘A Chorus Line’. The women showed here that they aren’t just singers, they are performers, and they acted these songs brilliantly.
Additional individual highlights were Lauren’s belting performance of ‘Maybe This Time’ from ‘Cabaret’, Celinde giving a Christine masterclass in her rendition of ‘Phantom’s “Think Of Me”, and Rachel nailing each and every high note in “A New Life” from underrated gem ‘Jekyll & Hyde’. Lauren also scored some extra bonus points by showing Loren Allred how it’s done with an empowered belting of “Never Enough” from megahit movie (and inevitable stageshow, I’m sure) ‘The Greatest Showman’.
Lambert Jackson had also put enough thought into the set-list that it didn’t feel like a carbon copy of the “Dame” concert in August, thanks to the lack of repeat song choices. However, like the previous concert, they had also clearly thought about which songs suited which voices, which gave the show a great balance and flow.
In an evening of celebrating all that women have achieved on the stage, it was also lovely that Lambert Jackson included a choir of young performers, along with a selection of competition-winning soloists (one just 14 years old), who together proved that the future of the West End is very, very bright.
Reviewed by Rob Bartley
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