Sunday, 27 July 2014

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . MISS SAIGON's Jon Jon Briones

(From www.imdb.com)

It was in May this year that I made my first ever visit to see the 25th Anniversary production of MISS SAIGON which had recently opened in London. I had never seen the show before (Bad I know!). Literally, I didn't know the story or any of the characters. All I knew was that there were 2 songs in the show called "Why God Why" and "Last Night of the World" and that there was a certain very iconic scene involving a helicopter!

I came out of the Prince Edward Theatre that night having been completely blown away by one of the most epic productions I had ever seen. However, in amongst all of the awe inspiring production that I had just witnessed, there was one particular performance which stood head and shoulders above them all - and it was given by a performer who had been with the show since it first debuted in 1989. He made me laugh, cry, tense, nervous and joyous - and for me that is the mark of an extremely talented individual. This performer is also the main reason I would re-visit the show - he was THAT good!
It is an absolute honour for me to announce that my newest interviewee, from the cast of MISS SAIGON, is the phenomenal JON JON BRIONES (The Engineer)
 
Tell us a little known fact about yourself - something we wouldn't know by looking at you
I studied Electrical Engineering for 5 years until I got cast in Miss Saigon in 1989.

Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre Industry?
Seeing West Side Story on TV when I was probably 8 years old.

What was the first song/album you ever bought?
Top Gun soundtrack.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Be classy even in defeat.
 

You are currently starring in the 25th Anniversary revival of Miss Saigon. Do you think this production does justice to the iconic original?
I believe this production does it justice and more.

How are you enjoying working with your fellow new cast members?
I'm in love with this cast. It's a privilege to come to work every day.

Do you have a favourite moment in the show? Or maybe a particular song that you love to perform?
I love them all but if I have to choose, it would be If You Want to Die in Bed.

What has been the best moment of your time so far with this version of the show? And what are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
I always love rehearsals - figuring out things and discovering things and the surprises that you encounter when you discover something you didn't 8 years ago. As for the year ahead, I'm looking forward to travelling in Europe with my family.

In 10 words or less, why should people come and see you, along with the fantastic cast at Miss Saigon?
Come on, it's Miss Saigon.

-----     As I said earlier, the new production of Miss Saigon - currently playing at the Prince Edward Theatre in London - is truly a piece of epic theatre brilliance. The whole production, from sets to costumes to scenery and special effects, fits together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. But for me, it is Jon Jon along with the rest of this stellar cast that make this new incarnation of MISS SAIGON an absolute must see! Check out http://www.miss-saigon.com/ for more details, including tickets!

A personal thanks must go to Jon Jon for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule to take part in this interview - I am eternally grateful to you Sir and simply cannot thank you enough.

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx 

ALBUM REVIEW - Katy Treharne's "THINK OF ME"

 
They say you always remember the moments when you encounter someone special in your life. And I can honestly say I have been truly blessed to meet some amazing people, particularly West End performers ever since I have had my little Blog.
But one performer in particular stands out to me - not just for her stunning voice, but for the warmth of her heart and kindness of her spirit.
 
It was August 2012 at Her Majesty's Theatre London. I had just seen Peter Joback perform as the Phantom for the second time (and what would be the final occasion I would see him in the role) and I was waiting at the Stage Door to congratulate him on his performance. But it was not just Peter I was waiting to see, as that was the night that I was first witness to the amazing talent of KATY TREHARNE who, to this day, is one of the best Christines' I have ever seen at "Phantom of the Opera".
 
Fast forward nearly 2 years, and I have been truly blessed to encounter Katy on several occasions both as a performer on stage but also as a supporter of so many wonderful charities - which included the amazing West End has Faith event in April 2013 (as well as the follow up last December). And now, as Katy continues to strive for excellence in all parts of her career - she has now released her debut album, appropriately titled "THINK OF ME."
 
Now to the untrained ear, this album may appear to just contain a series of covers with a very small hint of original material. However, knowing Katy like I do, I can tell you that this album gives you such a personal insight into the passion, pride and enchanting beauty that just exudes from her and spreads to everybody that she encounters. These 11 songs have been meticulously chosen to represent every aspect of Katy's life and career - and that is what makes this album so truly special.
 
From the majestic musical anthems for which she made her name, in the shape of "Think of Me" (Phantom of the Opera) and "I've Never Said I Love You" (Dear World); her proud Welsh roots in "Calon Lan" and her love of Disney (and one of my personal favourites!) in NEWSIES "Watch What Happens"; to her love and passion for her Faith in "Open Heaven" (from new musical Love Beyond) and "Speechless" (originally by one of Katy's favourite artists - Sandi Patty)
 
Add to that a Dan and Laura Curtis original, a timeless Italian ballad, an Ivor Novello classic and hits from SMASH and The Wizard of Oz - and you have one of the most versatile collections you will ever hear by such an enchanting soprano voice.
 
What this diverse collection also proves is that Katy is certainly one of those talented voices who really can sing anything! From up tempo to ballads; love to fear and regret; hope and joy to some of the most passionate musical deliveries you will ever hear. YES - it's all here!
 
This is one collection of songs that needs to be a part of every ones CD collection - songs that will appeal to everybody, no matter who you are or where you are from, delivered by one of the most stunning voices that has ever come out of the UK!
 
TRACK LISTING
Think of Me
I've Never Said I Love You
Open Heaven
Watch What Happens
Speechless
What Love Is For
Calon Lan
O Mio Babbino Caro
My Dearest Dear
Second Hand White Baby Grand
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
 
You can get your own copy of Katy's beautiful album from all good CD/Download providers - I promise you this is one purchase you will NOT REGRET!.

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx


Monday, 21 July 2014

LES MIS vs PHANTOM - Have you got you tickets yet?

(From www.twitter.com)  
One of my highlights of last Summer was my first ever trip to the annual Les Mis vs Phantom Charity Football match. Held at Bromley FC - just outside of central London - it truly was a brilliant day full of fun, laughs, and one fantastic football match contested by teams representing two of the most iconic shows in the West End - all in aid of some amazing  causes.

I am so excited that I will be returning to the event again this year! However, this years event - being held on Sunday 3rd August - will be particularly poignant as event organiser - Christopher Key - explains on the official match website:

"As many of you will know, our inspiration for starting this event, Melanie Oakley-Dow, sadly lost her battle with cancer at the end of last year. She is extremely missed by her family and all who knew her and Les Misérables is not the same without her. We will be playing this years match in her memory, hence our goal in making this years match the best one yet! As well as raising money for Cardiac Risk in the Young, we will also be donating some proceeds from the day to Mel's charities, Macmillan Cancer Research and EllenorLions Hospices."

Events on the day, kicking off at 1pm, include a Family Fun Day - including Game stalls, face painting and a bouncy castle; performances by the stunning Carrie Hope Fletcher and the phenomenal Geronimo Rauch; the epic football clash itself (Kick Off 3pm) as well as half time entertainment including Sapphire Soul and a special performance in memory of Melanie, by the 4 Valjeans!

I can't speak highly enough of this event! I personally guarantee it will be a day to remember - and you will not regret buying a ticket!

Are you convinced yet? I certainly hope so!

You can get your tickets by going online at http://www.lesmisvphantom.co.uk/  You can also follow @lesmisvphantom on Twitter for all the latest updates on the event!

I'm going to be there - and I hope to see all of you there as well!

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Saturday, 28 June 2014

My thoughts on the NEW Les Miserables Cast - Class of 2014/15

(Picture from www.ticketmaster.co.uk)
 
Since I first visited the show in January 2012, Les Miserables has become one of my must-see shows whenever I visit the West End. I have been lucky enough to be witness to some phenomenal performances by some amazing talents - Ramin Karimloo, Hadley Fraser, Craig Mather, Danielle Hope, Chris Jacobsen, Geronimo Rauch and Tam Mutu, to name but a few - during my numerous visits to the show.
 
One of the most emotionally charged times in a Les Mis fans calendar each year is early June, and the arrival of the annual Cast Change. Now, anyone that knows me knows how much of an attachment I had to the Cast of 2013/14 - certain members in particular! (And if you don't know - take a read of http://thoughtsofablueeyedgirl.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/les-miserables-cast-change-day-saturday.html) So the imminent arrival of a number of new cast members filled me with much trepidation!
 
Now normally, my first visit to see a new Les Mis cast after a Cast Change occurs in August as, due to my day job as a teacher and the fact I live 150+ miles away from London, I have to wait till my Summer break to fit it in. However, after a close friend sent me the link to a YouTube video of new Valjean Peter Lockyer singing "Bring Him Home", and being totally mesmerised by the beauty of what I was hearing, I knew that this year - my first visit needed to be sooner rather than later.
 
Luckily, due to a work commitment, I ended up being in London - with an evening to spare - just over a week and a half after Cast Change, so after meeting up with one of my wonderful friends, I headed to the Queen's Theatre to see what the newbies had to offer! Now I would be lying if I said my mind hadn't had mixed feelings about going. When you have seen certain performers in a specific role so many times - as was the case with me and several members of the previous cast - the temptation to compare the new performers with their predecessors was extremely strong! However, as I took my seat, I tried my best to keep an open mind!
 
When I came out of that theatre, nearly 3 hours later - I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I haven't been this impressed by a new cast as a whole unit since the cast lead by Geronimo Rauch and Tam Mutu arrived on the Barricades!
 
**The following may contain minor spoilers, so if you would rather not know about new elements of the show, please stop reading now!**
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If an impressive new cast from top to bottom wasn't mind-blowing enough, to see minor changes to the shows plot, staging and some costumes was even more surprising but SO REFRESHING!
 
Now there is no need to panic - this isn't the takeover by the new Broadway production that has divided so many Les Mis fans. In fact, if you hadn't seen the show before - you wouldn't know there was any difference whatsoever. Now for me - this being my 19th visit to the Barricades and also the fact that I was in the centre of the 2nd Row - there were several things that stood out to me: -
 
Valjean no longer wears a wig in the opening sequence. The new look of a shaved head, covered in cuts and bruises is a dramatic change but in my opinion is so much more effective than the wig.
 
The sequence between the Bishop and convict Valjean is so much more heart wrenching, purely by some minor changes to standing positions.
 
Fantine has a new dress/work outfit - a distinctive flowery pattern that has faded, we assume through work, could represent how her bright, effervescent personality has worn away due to her emotionally traumatic experiences.
 
At the start of "The Bargain" - post "Master of the House", the Thenardiers are not the only ones still at the Inn when Valjean arrives with little Cosette (I won't say anymore about this, other than Adam Linstead - you legend!)
 
When Javert first arrives in "Paris" after Thenardier's gang attacks Valjean, Javert immediately helps fallen Valjean stand up without realising who he is.
 
Eponine is involved in the slow motion running to open Act Two - which totally makes sense based on her involvement at the start of the Act into "On My Own." When she delivers Marius' letter to Valjean, he actually removes her hat after calling her a "boy", resulting in her long hair falling free and a shocked look from them both.
 
These were just some of the changes that stood out to me - there were many, many more! But as I am sure you can all see, the original show and story still remains as strong as it ever was, but has been re-energised by even the smallest of changes.
 
This re-energising continues with a number of fantastic new cast members. Before I go on, I should mention my earlier comment about resisting the temptation to compare this cast with their predecessors. I can honestly say there is no way this cast can, or should be, compared to the outgoing cast. They perform with such energy, vibrance and confidence - but are so different (in a good way) to anything or anyone I have seen at Queen's before in my two and a half years of visiting the show.
 
Peter Lockyer (Valjean) is a revelation and is so different to the all of the previous Valjeans I have seen perform. Being so close to the stage and seeing him perform live for the first time ever, you could see by looking his eyes how much belief he had in everything he was saying, singing and doing - and I have no doubt that would have transferred to all parts of the Theatre. He brings such power and confidence to the role and his vocals are just utterly divine. For me, a phenomenal Valjean has to break your heart with "Bring Him Home" - well, let's just say Peter totally obliterated my heart with his version!
 
His partnership with David Thaxton as Javert - another key element of the show for me - is just absolutely brilliant to watch! From their opening introductions, to one of the most powerful and physical Confrontations I have ever seen, to their final showdown, the chemistry between them is absolutely electric! They work so well together and I have no doubt their pairing has the potential to go down as one of the best ever.
 
I must also say about David - I had never actually heard him sing live before this visit to Queens (except at the first ever Off Duty Thursday - which was his own material). As a result of this, I can honestly say he was one of the most impressive elements of the whole evening. A very unique portrayal of Javert, bringing out much of the anger and frustration of the character is not something I have seen in the show before - but I liked it! His version of "Stars" - my favourite song from the whole show and the one moment that any Javert has to stand out to me -  was on point and delivered with amazing precision and such fire. And his facial expression when Gavroche caught him out on the Barricades was sheer brilliance! I really look forward to future visits to see how David develops this character even further.
 
Special mentions must also go to the fantastic Celinde Schoenmaker, returning to the role of Fantine which she originally played for a shorter spell in early 2013, who has grown in power and passion to deliver a faultless performance; and also to new Thenardier Tom Edden who brings a weasel-esque quality to the love him or hate him Inn Keeper, but who nevertheless is one of the funniest elements of the show - and his on stage relationship with QUEEN Wendy Ferguson (Madame Thenardier) is rather awesome! Michael Colbourne (Enjolras) also makes an impressive debut as the Revolutionary leader, particularly excelling in his on-the-Barricade role in Act 2. He is definitely another talent I look forward to seeing develop as the year goes on. The Ensemble - which includes the beautiful Emma Kingston (In the Heights), stunning Jo Loxton (Phantom/Dear World) and legendary Adam Pearce (Light Princess/Sweeney Todd/Love Never Dies) - is also one of the best I have ever seen on the Queen's stage.
 
It is also so wonderful to see all of these "newbies" backed up so brilliantly by so many familiar faces - Carrie Fletcher, Wendy Ferguson, Rob Houchen Simon Shorten, Adam Linstead and Melanie Bright to name a few - who continue to be absolutely astounding in so many ways!
 
All I can end by saying is this - as much as I shall miss the previous cast, and certain members of said cast in particular, it is onwards and upwards for them! And as a Les Mis fan - I am so pleased that this wonderful show has been left in such safe hands.
 
Signing off for now
 
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx


Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Les Miserables' Peter Lockyer

(Picture from www.theatrepeople.com
 
I am over the moon to announce that my next interviewee is the newest Jean Valjean to tread the boards at the Queen's Theatre - Peter Lockyer.
 
After making his Broadway debut in the Dutch production of Cyrano the Musical - Peter has gone on to star in some of the most popular musicals ever, including Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, South Pacific and also as Marius in Les Miserables - which he performed on Broadway and in the China Premiere, alongside the legendary Colm Wilkinson.
 
After taking on the role of Valjean for over a year and a half on the 25th Anniversary US Tour, Peter is now reprising his role here in London - and I was truly blessed to be able to chat to him about a whole host of things, including NHL, "Rhinestone Cowboy", Bill Nighy, being an honourary Londoner and why everyone seems to LOVE his new co-star . . .
 
Tell us a little known fact about yourself - something we wouldn't know by looking at you
 
Um...I wanted to be an NHL hockey player when I grew up.

Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre Industry?

I think I just really enjoyed the camaraderie, the sense of family and collaboration. When I graduated high school, I figured I'd just give it a try and if it didn't work out in a couple of years I'd move on.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far? And what has been the biggest obstacle you have faced?

Wow, these are challenging questions! Highlights are temporary because there's always a new moment, right? Every job I get is a highlight because I feel fortunate enough to continue working in theatre. Perhaps, the biggest highlight, though, would have to be meeting Melanie, the woman I would marry, while working on "Miss Saigon". We fell in love onstage and off, sappy, huh?!!

The biggest obstacle might be working or dealing with people that work from their egos first, and not for the piece at hand. It's a small percentage in the business, as in any business I'm sure, and I'm fortunate to have barely encountered it, but it's a buzz-kill to work with such people.

If you had to choose any 3 songs from any genre as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be and why?

"Rhinestone Cowboy" - it's the first song I just LOVED, funny.

"Blue Bells of Scotland" - I saw tears on someones face for the first time when this song played and saw the power of music.

"Grow Old Along With Me" - my wife sang this to me at our wedding and I can barely type this without welling up with joy from the memory.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Take your work seriously, but never yourself.

If you could play any role, be it play or musical, past or present, what would be your dream role to play and why?

Truly, playing Valjean IS a dream role.

I always wanted to play Tony in West Side Story but that time has gone by. It might be fun to play Tommy Devito in Jersey Boys for a bit? Or, to return to Phantom in the role?

I've always hoped one day to play Cervantes/Quixote in Man of La Mancha, it's such a beautiful show.

You've seen a number of West End shows since you've been in London - if you had to pick - which was your favourite?

Oh, wow! Listen, I'm such a huge fan of seeing theatre. I'm so moved by seeing an actor at the top of their game. I love to see direction that inspires, writing that asks me to think differently, lighting that paints a world, set design that evokes a place, an orchestra and conductor in concert with their cast, stage management that is on top of cues, sound design (YES! Sound design Tony Committee!) that extends the world aurally. To spend time in a space with other human beings watching and feeling a piece of theatre is such a special gift.
 
So a favourite? Oy!! It goes without saying that Les Mis is a singular experience, whether it's the first time or not. So, without choosing Les Mis...
 
(Picture from blog.ticketmaster.co.uk)

Things I won't forget: Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer; the simple but so very effective writing by Stephen Mallatratt and direction by Robin Herford in "The Woman in Black"; John Tiffany's inventive direction for "Let the Right One In"; Gavin Creel livin' it in Mormon; Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid acting onstage together and last but MY GOD IS HE AMAZING...Bill Nighy in "Skylight", what a lesson it was to watch him work.
 
(Picture from www.whatsonstage.com)
 
You have recently opened as Jean Valjean in the iconic musical "Les Miserables" at the Queens Theatre. But this isn't the first time you've played the role - having lead the cast of the recent US Tour. How much did you enjoy taking this legendary show to so many different cities?

What I love about having performed Les Mis all over the world now, is that it resonates with everyone the same...deeply. There is something so honest and complete about this show that touches us all. I often say, it doesn't matter if you've performed the show, wrote it, directed it, or seen it, we all feel an ownership of Les Miserables and that is just awesome to be a part of.

Now that you've opened in London - what are you most looking forward to about the year ahead?

I'm really excited to get to play with this great company. I didn't know what to expect coming in to a company that is so comfortable, but it truly feels like a new show at the theatre and I can't wait to deepen our performances together.

I also feel so blessed to be allowed to work and experience this amazing, historical city. I love being a tourist here and now, making believe like I'm a Londoner. I look forward to getting out into the countryside to see this beautiful land and up into Scotland, Ireland and Wales if I can as well.
 
New London Javert - and Peter's co star - David Thaxton
(Picture from www.broadwayworld.com)

And how are you getting on with your fellow new cast members, especially your new Javert - David Thaxton?

Why am I getting the feeling people LOVE this Thaxton guy?? Haha! I love him too. We're having a great time together. And, I can honestly say the rest of the company is fantastic. The existing members were so incredibly welcoming and the newbies are all committed and excited to do great work onstage.

Do you have a favourite moment in the show? Or maybe a particular song that you love to perform?

Though the obvious choices for me would be "Soliloquy" or "Bring Him Home", oddly, it's a song that isn't Valjean's but the company's that strikes me most, "Drink With Me" is such a powerful, poignant moment in the show. I think it resonates the human condition perfectly, where it's placed, the melody, the dramatic weight, it just works.

In 10 words or less, why should people come and see you, along with all the new cast members at Les Miserables?

Les Misérables - noun. a perfect theatre experience.
 
 
I have to say a special thank you to Peter for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer my questions! It was an absolute honour and privilege - and I apologise again about the difficult questions, ha ha!
 
You can see Peter and all the new cast of Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre, London - check out http://www.lesmis.com/uk/ or all good ticket retailers. I can say - having been lucky enough to witness this cast, including Peter, in action just a few days ago that you will not regret buying a ticket! Be prepared to be blown away!
 
Signing off for now
 
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

LES MISERABLES Cast Change Day - Saturday 14th June 2014

 
When I got on a train bound for London on the morning of Saturday 14th June 2014, I expected just another 2 show Theatre day.
 
Yes - the purpose of the visit was to say goodbye to the current cast of Les Miserables - and certain cast members in particular, if I'm honest. But I'd seen this show so many times - what could possibly be different?
 
Over 48 hours since my visit ended, I still can't really take in the atmosphere and energy that I experienced in that theatre over those two shows!
I had never been to a Cast Change Day before. I mean, I had been to final shows of particular productions - Phantom of the Opera UK Tour, Beverley Knight’s final Bodyguard performance and Geronimo Rauch's final Les Mis to name just a few - but never had I done a double show day, especially with such an emotionally draining show!
 
What this also meant though was I had never been witness to a Muck-Up Matinee! Believe me, I had always heard stories about different Muck-Ups but had never witnessed one in person - until Saturday! And as I was sitting Front Row for said Muck Up - I had a prime seat for all the action!
One thing I learnt very quickly was that a "Muck Up" is not an obviously out and out silly performance. It is much more subtle - to the point that unless you had seen the show before, you wouldn't know there were changes. But for me, this added to the excitement as I had to pay extra attention to everything that was going on!
Now I don't want to ruin the Muck Up magic - as there were some elements that if you weren't there, they might not be as funny! But - to give you a taste of what happened, at least what I spotted, all I shall say is the following . . .
Baa!
Judge
Blind Customer
Explaining the Menu
Baby Dropping
Fygxvbbbvvvbb cough cough
Long Pause
Acrobatics
2 Ghostly Eponines
Grantaire bow!
 
What I will say is that if you were there, these should all make sense! :) I laughed so much - and it was probably a good job considering how emotional the evening performance was set to be.
From the moment that I took my seat in the Dress Circle overlooking the stage about 5 minutes before the evening show was about to start, I knew I was about to witness something truly special. But never could I have imagined how completely overwhelmed I would be by the time the final curtain fell.
 
I think what got to me the most was how much these characters and this story meant to those on stage. Every breath, every note, every moment was delivered so much power, passion and pride - something I have never seen in such great volume before.
The cheers from the cast backstage which raised the roof before the show even started; NaYoung Jeon mouthing "thank you" to the audience after she delivered her final, heartbreaking rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream"; one of the most emotional, spine chilling renditions of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and most uplifting versions of "Do You Hear the People Sing" I have ever heard; Cameron Blakely and Wendy Ferguson tearing the house down with their final "Beggars at the Feast"; Tam Mutu oozing charisma, class and power in his final stunningly brilliant (and maybe best ever!) rendition of "Stars"; one of the most passionate Confrontations that Queens Theatre may have ever seen - I could go on!!!
 
Whether it was from those leaving the show - or those who will continue their Barricade journey, the class of 2013/14 left it all on that stage and left everyone in that theatre (myself included) with memories that we will never ever forget!
So I guess all I can say is: -
 
Dan, Tam, Cameron, Samantha, NaYoung, Anton, George, Dayle, Rhidian, Carl, Nicky, Josie, Jenny, Rosanna, Koko, Helen, Oliver, Chris and Leo . . .
It has been an absolute honour and privilege to support such a phenomenal group of performers as you! You will never be forgotten, but for now - it's not goodbye, it's see you soon! Onwards and upwards - I can't wait to see what you all do next!
And to the Class of 2014/15, lead by Peter Lockyer and David Thaxton - welcome to the Barricades! You have some pretty big shoes (or in some cases - HATS!) to fill :)
Signing off for now
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Sunday, 8 June 2014

PLAYING OUR PART - 18th May 2014

As much as I love going to the theatre as often as I possibly can, especially in the West End, I do have one rule that I always stick to.

No London trips on Sundays.

For those who don't know - I'm a school teacher by day, meaning that London day trips on a Sunday are pretty much impossible unless I want to be completely exhausted the next day. So, in order to keep to this rule, I have begrudgingly, had to miss some truly wonderful events
 
This rule was standing strong - that was until Nadim Naaman told me about a concert he was organising in aid of Target Ovarian Cancer.


Playing Our Part aimed to raise awareness of one of the less well known cancer types - a cause close to Nadim's heart. Staged in the stunning Cadogan Hall - the concert brought together some of the finest talent from across the West End to perform an array of enchanting and uplifting songs, accompanied by maestro Alex Parker and a fantastic 23 piece orchestra.

And what a set-list it was! There truly was something for everybody. From Jason Robert Brown to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Coldplay to Disney - each one of the beautiful performances was almost like the pieces of a rather phenomenal jigsaw all fitting together at once. I can honestly say, and I'm sure the audience would agree with me, that the concert was just sheer perfection.
 
 
As a result of this, I would find it practically impossible to tell you which were the stand out performers of the evening. Every single performance - whether it was Killian’s chilling version of “Fix You”, Wendy Ferguson’s powerhouse soprano in “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, or Laura Pitt Pulford’s storming rendition of “Before the Parade Passes By” - was astoundingly brilliant. However, there are a couple of individuals that I must mention.
 
 
If you are a fan of the London production of "Phantom of the Opera" like I am, then Jeremy Secomb is a name you will more than likely recognise. His role as Piangi remains one of the shows highlights for me, so when I heard he would be involved in Playing Our Part, I was totally intrigued! I was so used to hearing sing as Piangi, I questioned what he would actually sound like just singing as himself! (I know that sounds odd - but it's true!!)



I can honestly say - hand on heart - that I was totally blown away by his performance. I mean, I knew he would be good but he blew away any expectations I had! In his two performances - singing "The Prayer" with stunning Phantom co-star Olivia Brereton, and in a solo rendition of Jason Robert Brown's "Someone to Fall Back On", he completely captivated the entire audience, transporting each and every single one of them on the most enchanting rollercoaster ride. It was a performance of a truly phenomenal talent – and it just makes me even more jealous of anyone who has been lucky enough to see him as “The Phantom” over at Her Majesty’s Theatre – what an absolute tour de force that must be to see live and in person.

 

I must also give a special mention to a number of performers in particular. One of the things I just adored about Playing Our Part was the opportunity it presented me to see so much talent that I had never actually been witness to before. Christopher Howell, formerly of “Stephen Ward” and “Wicked”, brought the house down with his charismatic rendition of “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, while Tim Morgan (currently on stage at “Phantom of the Opera”) moved many audience members to tears with his emotional performance of “Lily’s Eyes” from The Secret Garden, alongside Nadim Naaman. I was also blown away by the immense talents of Shona White and Gillian Budd, particularly in their beautiful version of “For Good” from Wicked.

But out of all of these phenomenal talents, I must single out the divine Siubhan Harrison. I had only previously heard Siubhan sing through her contribution to Nadim’s solo album, and also knew of her involvement in From Here to Eternity. However, when she stepped up to the microphone to perform “No One But You” from We Will Rock You, I was absolutely speechless. Never have I heard that legendary song performed with such beauty and grace as I did that evening – and believe me, I have seen We Will Rock You on more than one occasion! Siubhan is a phenomenal talent and I can only pray that it isn’t long before we see this amazing lady back on the West End stage where she so rightfully belongs.


Playing Our Part” was truly the most awe-inspiring evening that I was very privileged to witness in person.  Believe me, it takes something truly special to get me to London on a Sunday evening knowing I am at work early the next day – but I was so thrilled that I broke this rule! Never have I been so humbled by such a brilliant evening.


Finally though, I must pay a special tribute to concert organiser and show producer Nadim Naaman. I consider itself an absolute honour that I have been able to support Nadim – through interviews, reviews and features – since I have run this Blog and I can say from meeting him now on numerous occasions that he truly is one of the most kind hearted people I have ever met. However, “Playing Our Part” just took my level of respect and admiration for him to a whole new level – a truly inspirational man whose love, care and support for others knows no bounds. It was a true honour to support him in the lead up to this concert – and I can only hope that I am blessed enough to support Nadim – and his new adventures – in future.

Thanks to the awesome Virtuoso Imaging for all of the fantastic pictures too!

 
Signing off for now
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx