Beyond the Barricade, Norwich

JOHN LAWSON Ever been to a musical and just been waiting for that showstopping number to come on? Well, here was a show of showstoppers from start to finish, performed by four singers with a serious pedigree in the musical theatre.

JOHN LAWSON

Ever been to a musical and just been waiting for that showstopping number to come on? Well, here was a show of showstoppers from start to finish, performed by four singers with a serious pedigree in the musical theatre.

The West End is a real hotbed of the musical, so to make a career in the genre you have to be at the top of your game. And this quartet certainly were, backed by a three-piece band and, thankfully, not a backing track to be heard – every word and every note at Norwich's Theatre Royal was performed live.

All the best shows were represented: Miss Saigon, Phantom, Chicago, Lion King and Blood Brothers to name but a few, with power ballads to the fore.

But adding a real frisson to the occasion were performances of songs from shows few will have seen: City of Angels and Kiss of the Spiderwoman only survived short stays in the West End but produced some great numbers and on the strength of The Kid Inside, an off-Broadway show called Is There Life After High School? surely deserves a try-out on this side of the pond.

Highlights for me were Shona White's performance of As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard, and All I Ask of You from Phantom, performed by Andy Reiss and Jennifer Meldrum.

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And then there was the finale: a selection from Les Miserables, the show in which Andy and his co- performer David Fawcett first met and devised Beyond the Barricade and in which all four in the show have sung principal roles.

Les Mis is just blockbuster after blockbuster: Fawcett's Bring Him Home was sublime, Reiss's Empty Chairs at Empty Tables passionate, Meldrum's I Dreamed A Dream dramatic and White's On My Own simply sensational.

And when all four joined forces for One Day More to end the show – singing the parts shared in the show by eight principals and a 25-strong chorus – the result deservedly brought the audience to its feet.

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