The Broadway @ The Leicester Square brand is one which surfaces infrequently but always pays rich rewards when it does. Having attracted Patti LuPone, then Audra McDonald and John Barrowman into the intimate surroundings of an informal chat and sing-song arrangement with Seth Rudetsky, it is now Ramin Karimloo’s turn to deliver such a boutique concert.
The particular joy of these concerts is their slightly chaotic nature, the way in which no-one seems entirely sure what is going to happen, least of Karimloo and Rudetsky themselves. Tonight we all recorded a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for Jenna Russell and got an impromptu duet on ‘Confrontation’ with Jeremy Secomb who was dragged out of the audience.
And these are just the bonuses on top of a programme which dips in and out of Karimloo’s impressive career to date. Anecdotes about the awesome inspiration Colm Wilkinson provided sit alongside a haunting rendition of ‘Music of the Night’; memories of The Pirates of Penzance segue into a gloriously ripe ‘The Pirate King’; his recent forays into Evita represented by ‘High Flying Adored’.
Rudetsky proves an excellent and flexible host too, his piano-playing exceptional as ever but equally more than happy to cede ground to guitarist Matthew Harvey for some of the more beautiful musical moments of the gig. A tenderly strummed ‘Hushabye Mountain’, a quietly soaring ‘Bring Him Home’, Karimloo feels so at ease with a guitar (or banjo) in his hand and with Harvey’s harmonies, sounds like a dream.
Karimloo’s voice remains a thing of wonder. Rich in tone and utterly thrilling, it’s as at home booming through Lloyd Webber power notes ”Til I Hear You Sing’ as it is adorning a wistful ‘Ol’ Man River’. And a pair of Jason Robert Brown numbers – Songs For A New World’s ‘I’d Give It All For You’ with Emma Kingston and ‘It All Fades Away’ from The Bridges of Madison County demonstrate he’s just as adept with new musical theatre writing.
The final romp through ‘Confrontation’ was just inspired though. Kingston getting to deliver the death scene of her dreams as Fantine, a bemused Secomb giving us a last-minute Javert and Karimloo camping it up, it was all just great fun and a fitting end to a great show. Hunt around for a bargain though, some of those tickets aren’t cheap.
Ramin Karimloo with Seth Rudetsky is booking at the Leicester Square Theatre until 6th October
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