Reviewer: Julie Robinson
Most theatre-goers will be well aware that the success of a musical rests on the entire cast, crew and creative team, however; the foundation upon which everything else is built is lain by the composer. An audience gathered at the Charing Cross theatre to celebrate the music of one such man, at the Sunday night concert; Stars Of The West End Sing The Songs Of Steven Luke Walker.
West End vocal coach and singing tutor at drama schools GSA and Mountview, Steven Luke Walker has a vast array of musical shows under his belt and is fast becoming a name to remember. The cast of West End stars performed a various number of his songs from shows such as The Willow Tree, The Boy King and Little Women, as well as a selection that were written exclusively for them.
Steven writes with a passion and love that flows out of every note of his music; a rich swirl of full-blooded sound that evokes a wave of emotions and left the audience entranced. From the beautifully heart-rendering ballads to the foot-stomping upbeat numbers; each song was a real treat for the ears.
Samantha Barks was as adorable as ever in her rendition of the Princess Diaries-inspired Suddenly, while Martin Neely thrilled with the powerfully in-depth delivery of Only Power, based upon the Harry Potter films. Summer, Saskia and Zizi gave a tremendous display of the talent of the Strallen family, with Summer’s captivating – and flexible – rendering of the catchy Big Smoke number, The Tube Ride Home gaining a great appreciation from the audience.
A couple of names to watch out for: Abbie Osmon; Alice Fearn and Jeff Nicholson, who lit up the stage with their dazzling vocals and impressive stage presence. Abbie can currently be seen in Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show ,while Alice is in the middle of rehearsals for the eagerly anticipated Shrek the Musical. Jeff will be leaving Les Miserables in June, so look out for him in his next project as this performer has big things ahead of him…
In the expanse of tonight’s material, there were a few stand-out songs that took the already high standard and went even further with it. Little Women and What Happens Now? from the musical adaption of Little Women, was performed by Rebecca Lock, Gina Beck and the three Strallen sisters, whose harmonious blends lent themselves well to these hauntingly beautiful ballads, that stirred the heart with their emotive lyrics. Justice Be Done; a deeply soul-stirring song from The Willow Tree, was enriched by the strong and impassioned performance of Scott Garnham, whose dulcet tones certainly ‘did the song justice’. The two respective solo’s from The Young Victoria and The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe were exquisitely beautiful compositions, brought to life by the heavenly voices of sopranos Gina Beck and Rebecca Lock; their silken vocals perfectly complimenting the smooth and melodic strains of the music. The penultimate song of the night was Up There, inspired by the film Brokeback Mountain and performed by Samantha Barks, Gina Beck, Jon Robyns and Alistair Barron, the latter being a last-minute replacement for Ramin Karimloo, who had to pull out due to illness. A tender, melancholy song with touchingly poignant lyrics, accompanied by luxurious swells of music that rolled over the audience in a flow of ethereal beauty.
The talented members of the GSA Choir supported many of the performers, and also took to the stage to deliver a variety of numbers themselves. A slick and polished company, they belted out their songs with great zeal, infusing each and every one with charm and personality.
There were a few small hiccups throughout the concert, starting with the late start due to technical difficulties at the box office. After a 15 minute delay, the tannoy announcement that the show would be starting ten minutes late caused great amusement in the waiting audience, and the early entrance of one of the choir members triggered a ripple of laughter throughout the theatre.
Overall though, the concert was a sensational success. Steven possesses a gifted and creative mind and pours so much emotion and depth into his music and lyrics; the harmonies and melodies sweetly serenaded the ears of the audience, and the intimate feel of the 275-seated theatre added to the warm and relaxing atmosphere that encompassed the night. On stage throughout the entirety of the concert at the keys of the piano, Steven received the biggest ovation of all in the curtain call, and deservedly so; he is an exceptional talent and has a long, successful career ahead of him. To quote one of Steven’s own lyrics;
‘Every tale has a beginning. Where it ends though, who can say..’
The story of Steven Luke Walker has only just begun, but with his musical genius, it can only have a happy ending.