Dazzling from start to finish, the high quality of the performances, music and of course the venue reminded us why exactly we are missing the theatre.
Filmed at the glorious London Palladium as part of the BBC’s celebrations of musicals that took place across the channel last month, Musicals: The Greatest Show was a chance to really indulge in the music and performances that we have been missing over the last year.
Making full use of the theatre’s expansive space by placing some of the musicians and ensemble into the rows of seats sadly deprived of audiences, this is a show that was elegantly put together and felt like a true celebration.
Hosted by Sheridan Smith, Musicals: The Greatest Show got the balance just right between performances from some classic musicals such as Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera with newer additions such as SIX and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. It was certainly a programme that had something for everyone.
Smith got things off to a lively start with a powerful performance of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ that really seemed to ring out across the London Palladium. But this was just one of many spectacular highlights which included a spine tingling version of ‘Music of the Night’ from The Phantom of The Opera, performed with great elegance by Ramin Karimloo.
In contrast, the cast of SIX gave an immensely spirited rendition of the title track – a strong reminder of just why this musical has proved so popular since its beginnings at the Edinburgh Fringe. Each cast member was so distinctive in their performance that it was a real highlight.
Elsewhere, Mazz Murray, Kate Graham and Jo Napthine added to the fun with their performance of ‘Dancing Queen’ from Mamma Mia!, while Michael Ball looked as though he was enjoying himself while performing ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ from Hairspray. Throughout it all, the ensemble and the BBC Concert Orchestra provide stunning support enhancing the music with great richness.
But it is also a very emotional experience, as the uncertainty as to when theatres can reopen safely continues. In particular, Lea Salonga’s beautiful performance of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Misérables and Jac Yarrow, with the public, performing ‘Any Dream Will Do’ from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat felt really poignant.
Meanwhile, it was lovely to get a glimpse of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s upcoming new musical of Cinderella through Ivano Turco’s soulful rendition of ‘Only You, Lonely You’.
While every song featured such strong performances, for me the highlights were Gavin Spokes performing ‘You’ll Be Back’ from Hamilton to hilarious effect, Nicole Scherzinger showcasing the musical theatre quality of her voice perfectly with a rendition of ‘Never Enough’ from The Greatest Showman’ and Aisha Jawando’s astonishing version of ‘(Simply) The Best’ from Tina – The Tina Turner Musical.
It was a show that really covered every single base and does beg the question – can we have a mini series of concerts like this to be shown on the BBC? It would certainly fill a gap for all those audiences missing the theatre. A truly wonderful show that showed the dazzling power of musical theatre.
By Emma Clarendon
Musicals: The Greatest Show is available to watch through BBC iPlayer.