Parallel Productions launched their brand new album West End Switched Off last night at Victoria’s St James Studio. Playing to a sold out audience, we were treated to a star studded line up of performers and some beautiful acoustic re-arrangements of well known (and some not so well known) musical theatre songs.
Kris Rawlinson is a fascinating Musical Director to watch. His fingers seem to barely touch the piano keys, his hands gliding across the piano, seeming to find notes that don’t even exist with ease. His musical arrangements of well known theatre classics take you to a higher place and I could happily listen to them again and again. I would like to see him kick back that piano stool and give it a bit of Elton John wiggling!
Bonnie and Clyde is one of my favourite Broadway recordings and so I was delighted to hear The World Will Remember Us kick off the show with Dale Evans and Rebecca Trehearn. Unquestionably the best version of the song I have ever heard.
“If it’s shit don’t judge me” – a comedy moment from Rebecca Trehearn singing Send In The Clowns from A Little Night Music, (standing in for Tori Allen-Martin who was scheduled to perform but had to pull out due to illness), just one of the several songs she performed. I felt like I was watching Billy Holliday sing during her rendition of Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Totally mesmerising.
When Thomas Sutcliffe took to the stage and declared he would be singing Quiet from Matilda in the style of the autistic boy from The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime, I was intrigued. When he started to sing, my body went cold, shivers shot down my spine and my vision tunnelled so all I could see was his face. The rest of the world seemed lost in that moment and I was encapsulated in his monumental performance.
Sophie Linder-Lee (current Glinda understudy in Wicked) got act two going with a hilarious version of Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch me from The Rocky Horror show, played on the Ukulele. “There are four e-flats in this and I can’t play an e-flat” she announced before starting. Jordan Lee-Davies proved he was Fabulous Baby with a Sister Act Musical classic and Adrian Hansel added a sassy soul jazz vibe to Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop The Beat.
The real star of the show though was Kris Rawlinson. His piano playing and musical arrangements were unlike anything I have ever experienced. I would like to employ him to musically direct my life!
There were a few slightly questionable performances which is the only reason I am marking this down to four stars from five. It was a wonderful evening of spine-tingling music and I will be first in line for tickets to the next West End Switched Off concert.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Click here to order your copy of the brand new West End Switched Off CD