Review: West End Recast 2, Phoenix Theatre


“I wonder why they didn’t just change their story”

There’s always gotta be a sequel right? After the success of West End Recast earlier this year, director Adam Lenson and musical supervisor Daniel A Weiss have once again gathered a cast of West End talent with nothing better to do on a Sunday night than perform songs they wouldn’t normally get the chance to sing. And once again, they hit the jackpot with West End Recast 2, an extraordinary range of performers and performances that offer a revelatory take on what places musical theatre could go to when a few risks are taken.

Imagine Cynthia Erivo as Bobby in Company, her rendition of ‘Being Alive’ was genuinely sensational (although nothing will ever convince me that a mid-song standing ovation is acceptable) and somehow found something new in this classic that literally raised the roof. So too did Gina Beck utterly own West Side Story’s ‘Maria’, an unexpectedly affecting take that also deserves to be explored more, not least as a fascinating challenge for her vocal range. Cassidy Janson deserves a mention for going green again, though this time as Shrek rather than Elphaba, well for the most part at least…

Nick Holder giving Imelda Staunton a run for her money (well, not really, but he gives it a damn good try) by seizing ‘Rose’s Turn’ by the balls; Jon Robyns remixing Rent far better than Rent Remixed ever achieved with a beautiful take on ‘Out Tonight’; David Bedella relishing the dip into a Desmond with ‘With One Look’; the boys more than represented too. Fra Free taking on Ragtime’s Your Daddy’s Son was another success, offering insight into what a talented singer he is turning out to be.

There was humour too in the evening, in the lighter touches of Julie Atherton’s sozzled take on Matilda’s ‘Naughty’ seguing cleverly into Annette McLoughlin’s Les Mis number. Or Michael Matus doing ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie, Katie Rowley Jones transforming into a Teddy Boy for a Grease segment, Rebecca Brewer’s malevolent Mushnik from Little Shop of Horrors and Robyns and Daniel Boys duetting from Miss Saigon.

The balance worked well across the programme, never becoming too heavy an evening and always remembering to keep things light. Perhaps it would have been good to mix up the cast a little bit more and I don’t know if the world needed another ‘Let It Go’ (sorry Daniel Boys) but there’s really not much complaining on as entertaining a night as this was.

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