It’s my first initiation of Beyond the Barricade tonight. The well-loved show is celebrating 20 years of productions on stages across the world, so they must have a winning formula. The songs from many loved musicals from Broadway and the West End are performed with a live band.

Not knowing what to expect, there’s a dizzying list of musicals promised to be covered tonight. With only four vocalists and a small live band, how is this going to work?

The show opens with welly and the aptly titled, ‘The Show Must Go On,’ delivered with conviction and a spine-tingling rendition that ignites the theatre alight with a powerful punch.

This is the way the night rolls with an on-stage screen that relates to each musical’s chosen songs in case you don’t know your Lion King from your Annie and at the rate the quartet are belting them out that’s very helpful. Them being vocalists extraordinaire (and aficionados of musicals) Katie, Poppy, David and Andy.

BTB as it’s fondly known has a huge following and tonight in Preston is no different. They cover old favourites such as Miss Saigon and West Side Story. Then slip in a few new ones that keep the set current and fresh. Poppy Tierney solos on a song from a new Broadway musical ‘Anastasia which is yet to come out over here.

There’s a ‘silly medley,’ which keeps traditionalists happy with all the jolly supercali’s, chitty chitty you can shake a stick at.

The first half most memorable moments were from Phantom of The Opera which was totally mesmerising and Jesus Christ Superstar, (with great solo from Andy) blew any cobwebs right off the audience with their high standard of conviction and performance.

David Fawcett (think Del Boy) soon becomes apparent as BTB’s witty raconteur with his cringe but nevertheless funny jokes between songs. They bring an earthy and relaxed quality to the show and I’m sure helps to secure some reluctant partners along to the show.

Part Two thrusts into action with excerpts from another new sell out musical, ‘Hamilton.’ Swiftly followed by a personal favourite, a medley of Chicago songs. Then changed up a bit with duets, the men sing from City of Angels and then the ladies belt out classic ‘I know him so well, ‘from 80’s classic Chess.

Katie Leeming does tremendous justice to crowd pleaser ABBA’s ‘The Winner Takes it All.’ Then of course the grand finale which everyone has been waiting for Les Misérables.

A thoroughly feel good factor, overwhelmingly moving as the vocalists excel. The crowd cannot get enough and the atmosphere electric. They do the songs great justice, with hardly a dry eye in the house. A standing ovation ends a what has been a wonderful evening and shows why they have been going for so long, the perfect antidote to a gloomy January day.

Reviewer: Rachael Foster

Reviewed: 19th January 2019

North West End Rating: ★★★★