A Very West End Christmas
A rather special project, A Very West End Christmas has gathered up a group of nearly 50 musical theatre performers to record an EP of 5 Christmas classics for a number of charitable causes – Great Ormond Street’s Giggin’ for Good, West End Fests for CRY UK and The Band Aid Charitable Trust. It’s a steal at £3.95 for the EP and with some seriously great talent onboard, assembled by co-producers Kris Rawlinson and Darren Bell, it’s a mostly very good listen.
The strongest numbers are, a little perversely, actually the ones which don’t feature the full choir. Michael Xavier croons perfectly through ‘The Christmas Song’ (although it is sad that there is no accompanying video of him roasting his chestnuts…), Chloe Hart and Jeremy Hart have lots of fun in a swinging ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, and there’s an interesting arrangement of’ O Holy Night’ featuring Sabrina Aloueche, Jodie Jacobs and Katie Payne (though that song will always belong to Hannah Waddingham for me).
There’s a good, traditional run-through of ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ and then there’s their take on ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ which really didn’t do anything for me to be completely honest. As the video below shows, it was probably much more fun for them to record than it is for us to listen to but it is for a good cause so we’ll leave it at that. Buy the EP here.
John Owen-Jones – O Holy Night
Truth be told, I’m a woman’s man when it comes to singers – I’ve never really been one for the showstopping big belters (Alfie Boe is the first name that springs to mind) but I have to say that John Owen-Jones rather blew me away in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Misérables and his self-titled CD was something of an unexpected delight. So a new version of O Holy Night, arranged by him and Ben Robbins and featuring the West End Gospel Choir, was a tempting prospect. As it turns out, it falls a little too close to the bombastic tendencies for my liking, it’s a hugely powerful, vocally dynamic performance but for me, it’s a song that benefits from a little subtlety and there’s not really any of that here. Purchase said track here.
Hannah Waddingham – O Holy Night
And as if proof were needed about the ownership of ‘O Holy Night’, here is the delectable Ms Waddingham singing it for you and a link to buy the track (which is even better, especially when she starts harmonising with herself) from the Christmas in New York CD.
Emma Williams and Howard Goodall – The Good Morrow
And as a Brucie bonus, since no-one in their right mind can think of Michael Xavier without Emma Williams, here’s a link to a beautiful new song called ‘The Good Morrow’ – a musical adaptation of John Donne’s, written by composer extraordinaire Howard Goodall and sung with customary gorgeous restraint by Emma Williams, making me wish I’d made the effort to go over to Salisbury to see her in The Recruiting Officer now.