West End Women – Theatre Review

West End Women is certainly is a night packed with entertainment, and a labour of love for the talented ladies who give us rousing renditions of musical theatre’s finest numbers. Compilation concerts are no new thing, but one with as much West End experience and awe inspiring voices as Kerry Ellis, Joanna Ampil and Ria Jones bring is certainly one not to be missed.

A huge star in London’s West End, having toured with Queen and released her own albums, Kerry Ellis is one of the biggest names in the business and she doesn’t disappoint. The green of Wicked follows her she comments, as she tells the tale of her recent 3 month return to the show and performs a stripped back arrangement of ‘Defying Gravity’. On top of this she belted out ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’ (Tell Me On A Sunday) and ‘Somebody to Love’ (We Will Rock You) among others which show off what a voice she has.

Joanna Ampil started her career at the age of 17 when she took over the role of Kim in Miss Saigon and went on to debut the role in Australia. She has since gone on to play many leading roles in Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Miserables among others. She captivates the audience, a pin can be heard drop during her rendition of ‘Memory’ (Cats) and particularly ‘On My Own’ (Les Miserables) that was performed so beautifully. Watching her sing ‘Last Night of the World’ (Miss Saigon) showed how truly stunning she must have been in the role of Kim: she is a true actress, and a delight to watch.

Ria Jones also made her breakthrough at a young age, staring as Eva Peron in Evita at 19. She tells the story of how she was invited to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton home to perform the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, which I can imagine made a great deal of the audience, if they are anything like myself, very jealous. Her rendition of ‘All That Jazz’ (Chicago) goes down a treat and her flawless rendition of ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ (Sunset Boulevard) receives a deserved cheer.

Although no actor, Rory Taylor, of ITV ‘Superstar’ fame, has a good voice and gets ample time to show it off with renditions of ‘The Show Must Go On’ (We Will Rock You) and ‘Gethsemane’ (Jesus Christ Superstar) where his pop colouration of vowels is appropriate. He is however outclassed by backing singer Joel Harper-Jackson, who in the few moments he gets his moment to shine shows us what a great tone his voice has. An incredibly high note during ‘Seasons Of Love’ (Rent) and a solo in ‘High Flying Adored’ (Evita) being a particular stand out moments for him.

The girls have a great rapport on stage, and their group numbers of ‘Make Him Mine’ (Witches of Eastwick) and ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ (Les Miserables) create some beautiful harmonies: all in all, if anything, I would have liked to hear more of them singing together. The real success of this show is of course in the talent, but also in the relaxed atmosphere the performers create and the way you can quite clearly tell they all enjoy what they are doing. Go see these 3 talents under one roof while you can, who knows if you may get the chance again.

A great night’s entertainment for any musical theatre lover.

Reviewed at New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham on 02/12/2014

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Sam Chipman

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Actor, singer, saxophonist and theatre reviewer - Lover of Musical theatre, literature, wine and cups of tea. Member of The Labour Party.