With so many of us having missed out on theatre for so long, Greg Barnett and Hugh Summers, for Wild Mountain Productions, bring a new series of three concerts to Shaftesbury Avenue to help remind us of all the things that we’ve been missing. Monday Night at The Apollo may be playing to socially distanced audiences, but is also available to audiences at home via a livestream from THESPIE.
The first concert in the series, kicked off proceedings in style, with a superb line up of guests. As host for the evening, Greg Barnett has a relaxed and welcoming style which certainly appealed to the audience in the theatre, and I suspect to those at home too. From the opening there was the merest hint of The Late Late Show to it, the four-piece band with musical director George Dyer, getting us in to the mood for what was to come.
The five guests; Aimie Atkinson, Cassidy Janson, Lucie Jones, Cedric Neal and Julian Ovenden, were together on stage throughout, taking it in turns to sing and then answer questions from the host. Once everyone had taken a turn, things started to feel more open and relaxed; the order of the performances were mixed up and the chat between them felt much more natural.
It’s hard to choose what moments were best, the fantastic vocal performances, or the fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how each of these performers came to be doing what they are. Audition stories, and long forgotten workshops plus an interesting story about stage right in the Apollo Theatre all made for a wonderful night of musical theatre magic.
A truly eclectic collection of songs; from older Broadway shows to modern pop classics, graced the stage, and Monday Night at The Apollo didn’t skimp on performances either, with the audience well and truly getting their money’s worth.
There were plenty of stand out moments too, Lucie Jones staggering performance of ‘She Used To Be Mine’ from Waitress, or Julian Ovenden’s take on Dolly Parton’s ‘Here You Come Again’ to name just two. Cedric Neal’s performance from The Wiz and Aimie Atkinson’s take on Funny Girl delighted the audience as did Cassidy Janson’s powerful anthem from Chess.
Perhaps most importantly, Monday Night at The Apollo is about giving back to the industry as much as it is about giving to the audience, and a proportion of the profits raised from each of the concerts is going to Acting for Others, an organisation comprised of 14 theatrical charities.
What really stood out, was each of the performers delight at being back on stage, and the audience’s appreciation for having them there. Monday Night at The Apollo therefore takes a unique spot in history, bringing performers and audiences back to the West End after too long a hiatus.
As Cedric Neal might say, ‘any chance of a revival?’ and the answer is yes! Two more Monday Night at The Apollo concerts are planned with a whole new set of guests to entertain audiences both in the theatre and at home.