Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Review | WEST END WOMEN (UK Tour) December 2014

It's a simple premise - three West End legends on stage, a small band and a guest star... it's not entirely elaborate but boy does it pack punch. Three of the most sensational voices in world theatre unite to deliver a plethora of huge hits from the greatest musicals. 

Ria Jones was just 19 when she became the youngest actress ever to play the role of Eva Peron in  Evita - followed shortly by her West End debut in the musical Chess, in which she played the roles of both Svetlana and Florence. She then went on to play Grizabella in Cats, a role in which Joanna Ampil recently finished touring the UK and Europe in. Joanna made her West End debut at the age of 17, replacing Lea Salonga as Kim in the original London production of Miss Saigon - other shows include Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar and Avenue Q. Kerry Ellis completes the line-up, fresh from her own solo concert tour and another run as Elphaba in Wicked

All of the ladies treat us to songs from the shows in which they were once a part, memorably Ria Jones' rousing All That Jazz from Chicago and As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard which ensure that you leave the theatre having found a new favourite star and YouTube immediately. Utterly fabulous. 

Joanna Ampil, Ria Jones & Kerry Ellis

Kerry Ellis treats audiences to a stripped back version of Defying Gravity and changes things up by singing the Glinda part of Wicked's For Good with Joanna Ampil as Elphaba. Joanna's version of Memory from Cats continues to be my favourite rendition and this show just confirms it further that this song belongs to her. My only wish is that this came later in the show, some of the earlier big numbers are mightily impressive and would have been better placed towards the show's latter half and climax.  The biggest treat that Ampil offers is a medley of songs from Miss Saigon that she first performed 22 years ago - ending with a hair-raising Bui Doi. 

The ladies all share one particular role in common - they have all played Fantine in Les Miserables and their group performance of I Dreamed A Dream introduces new harmonies and sounds beautiful in their alternative format. The three voices blend perfectly and other group songs One Night Only and Dancing Queen are just as delightful. 

Joined by incredible backing vocalists Joel Harper-Jackson and Beth Humphries (equally deserving of their own spotlight) and regularly by guest Rory Taylor, songs from Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent are added to the mix to make this the perfect celebration of Musical Theatre. A thrilling evening at the theatre with glitz, glamour and all that jazz! Simply sensational. 

Joanna Ampil - Memory

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