REVIEW: Willemijn Verkaik (Cambridge Theatre) ★★★

Willemijn Verkaik Cambridge TheatreDutch performer Willemijn Verkaik is most famous for two very big things. She is the Idina Menzel of Germany and the Netherlands, having voiced the role of Elsa in the foreign translations of Frozen. And she has played the role of Elphaba (also originated by Idina Menzel) in four countries, on and off for the past ten years (in three different languages). Last week, Willemijn completed another stint in Wicked at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre and last night held a packed out concert of her own, at London’s 1,200 seat Cambridge Theatre.

The Stage Box Kids theatre company opened the show with a wonderful medley of songs from the musical Frozen, before Willemijn took to the stage to sing the biggest hit from the film, Let It Go. Over the course of the evening, the audience were treated to an eclectic mixture of musical genres, from George Michael to Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss, there was a melting pot of styles on offer as well as a decent helping of Musical Theatre favourites. The highlight of the night was actually when Willemijn showcased four of her own songs that she had written over the years, showing there is some real songwriting talent here.

Guests for the evening were fellow Dutch performer Celinde Schoenmaker who bagged the role of Fantine in Les Miserables over Willemijn but they joined together for a very special duet of I Dreamed A Dream. Savannah Stevenson and Suzie Mathers (Willmeijn’s two Wicked London co-stars) sang a barber shop quartet style medley of all Glinda’s parts from Wicked the Musical. This was well thought out and had some lovely harmonies between the three voices. Tyrone Huntley also took a break from rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar to duet with Willemijn.

As with many one night only concerts, making a show perfect is difficult but there were moments where transitions between songs could have been slicker. Between the Stage Box Kids Frozen Medley and Willemijn’s opening number Let It Go, there was a two minute gap whilst instruments were tuned. This could have been better executed so that the music started and she appeared the second they finished, creating a seamless link. Also, Willemijn’s chatter between songs came across very nervous and off-the-cuff and could have been rehearsed to be delivered more eloquently.

At almost two and a half hours (although the show started late and had a twenty five minute interval) the concert was fairly long but for the hard core fans who had travelled from all over the world for this show, I’m sure they could have stayed there listening all night. Willemijn Verkaik is an international star and I am sure this is not the last the West End has seen of her. Hopefully an album featuring some of her original songs will be on it’s way soon!

Reviewed by West End Wilma