Apollo Theatre, London
Since my last trip to the theatre in December, I have been dreaming of starting my week enveloped in the stagey comfort of musical theatre and I am oh so happy that last night my dream came true. Created by Wild Mountain Productions and presented by Greg Barnett, a spectacular line-up was brought to the stage of the Apollo to take us through a night of vocal gymnastics, diversity, humour and just a bunch of fun in the first instalment of Monday Night at the Apollo.
You couldn’t have gotten a much better bunch than the first five performers in the series: Aimie Atkinson, Cassidy Janson, Lucie Jones, Cedric Neal and Julian Ovenden. Every artist gave powerhouse performances, as well as bouncing off one another and highlighting the fantastic camaraderie and community that comes along with the world of theatre.
After a lockdown of creating content online, forming a girl band and most recently performing on This Morning, seeing Atkinson back on stage was a real treat. ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ felt very apt as we all hold our breath hoping theatres can remain open and her performance was top notch. Sparkles galore, being a complete professional during technical difficulties and serving sassy vocals were the best reminders of why Atkinson is quickly becoming West End royalty.
If you search “riff legend”, it should really show a whole host of pictures and videos of Neal who is the definition of control. His smooth, pin-sharp vocals are passionate and utterly mesmerising. It’s also incredibly impressive to see and hear how versatile he is as a performer, with ‘So You Wanted to see the Wizard’ and ‘Hold Me in Your Heart’ showcasing contrasting vibes but both being completely absorbing and joys to watch.
As always, Jones provided not only the most stunningly dexterous, ice clear and faultless vocals, but also showed off her excellent humour and stage presence which create a perfect performance.
I also wouldn’t complain if Ovenden started singing everything, including phone books, instruction manuals, weather reports etc… His absolute dream of a voice carried so well throughout the night and I found myself in complete awe of the technical ability he displays in every note. He really is a masterclass in the importance of support, diction and classical technique. All of his songs were honestly just joyous to hear.
Completing the line up, recent Olivier Award winner Cassidy Janson brought her usual magnetism and soulful vocals to the Apollo as she performed a variety of songs, with Nobody’s on Nobody’s Side proving a real highlight.
The evening absolutely wouldn’t have been the musical success it was without the stellar band who both backed the singers and also shed light on the importance of live music. The synchronicity and musicality was evident throughout and it really seemed like everyone was thrilled to be back on stage. The simplistic stage adorned by rugs and bathed in warm light worked brilliantly to create a welcoming atmosphere.
Also streaming online via Thespie the future Monday Night at the Apollo events are sure to be complete treats and the perfect way to bring back the stageyness we’ve all been missing.
photo credit: Danny Kaan