There are some nights which are special and which you know you will remember for a very long time. Tonight was one of them, for various reasons.
A One Night Stand With Musical Theatre aims to "bring the West End to the North West" and this it certainly did, whilst at the same time proudly showcasing a selection of 'home grown' and wonderfully talented North West musical theatre performers.
The show took place in the Bierkeller, situated in the Printworks - not the usual sort of venue for this type of show but it worked very well and had a more intimate feel to it. Miss Blair was our suitably glamorous host and did a great job at introducing all the performers with flair, whilst at the same time thanking all of us for attending because all the profits from the evening were being donated to the "We love Manchester" charity fund, recently founded in response to the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.
The first half of the show was devoted to local musical theatre performers, notably Mossley Amateur Operatic Dramatic Society whose most recent production was "Parade" which I was lucky enough to review. They performed four songs, the final one being "The Old Red Hills of Home" which still sent shivers down my spine, even though there was a reduced number of them performing it on a very small stage.
We were then entertained, firstly by Nickie Simms and then Emma Jane Ramsden. These ladies have talent oozing out of them and it was particularly evident when they teamed up to sing "That's Life" - it is quite unusual to hear two women sing this song as it is a song which I have only ever heard sung by Frank Sinatra and he is one hard act to follow - but follow him they did and they certainly did the song justice.
Nickie has a beautiful voice and her rendition of "With You" from 'Ghost' seemed particularly relevant and poignant in view of what happened in Manchester last week.
I have to mention Emma's rendition of "I Don't Know How To Love Him" which I first heard her sing last year when she played Mary Magdalene in the NK Theatre Arts production of "Jesus Christ Superstar". Her performance of this song is absolutely spellbinding and I think the whole audience was mesmerised by her.
The second half of the show featured the headline act which was Louise Dearman, star of many West End musicals, most notably "Wicked" in which she has played both lead roles. This lady is instantly likeable and warm and had us laughing with her in seconds. She really knows how to engage with an audience and it was like being in the company of a good friend. Her performance of all the songs she sang was absolutely flawless and I could have listened to her all evening. She has amazing stage presence and there is something very hypnotic about watching her peform: she completely drew me into all the songs, even the ones I didn't know. Her performance is slick, polished and completely immersive.
Mention was made throughout the evening of the recent trauma which Manchester has suffered and the audience was thanked by all the performers for coming out and giving their support to the evening. Tonight really demonstrated the adage of "the show must go on" and thank goodness it did, it was wonderful.
After the show, my theatre companion and I walked to St Ann's Square which has become the focal point for people to mourn and leave floral tributes to the people who lost their lives on 22nd May. After being in such a happy, vibrant atmosphere, this was completely different but in a wonderful, awe inspiring way: there were many people there but not a sound could be heard because of the respectful silence. The pink balloons wafting in the breeze made it feel rather surreal and we stood there for many minutes taking it in. We had two experiences tonight: the first: entertaining and joyful, the second: overwhelming and emotional. Both shared a common bond: Magnificence. Majesty. Manchester.
Reviewer: Nicky Lambert
Reviewed: 1st June 2017