Theatre Severn Packed to Welcome Back Beyond The Barricade

Beyond the Barricade

Theatre Severn

16th October 2018

Sorry Spandau Ballet fans, there was not a single note of that beautiful song, instead there was a mixed bag of songs from the shows, leading to their big finale piece taken of course from, Les Miserables.

So who is, Beyond the Barricade? They are all former performers from the West End run of Les Miserables although the four vocalists visited all the shows throughout the evening. The act comprises two men and two women and three very adept musicians. The singers are David Fawcett, Andy Reiss, Poppy Tierney and Katie Leeming. Andy Reiss doubles up as a key board player and musical director.

And what a mixed bag it was. There is a danger of taking these songs out of the shows. It is hard to contextualise them in your own mind and if you don’t know the stories then you may be left feeling somewhat bewildered as song upon song came and went. Without context some of the songs don’t stand up to close scrutiny at all. In a way, out of context they appear like just like one side of a triangle, the others two sides being the acting and the full story. Sometime one needs the other two sides too or it doesn’t make much sense.  

There were also problems with sound and the clarity of the voice was lost and words became unrecognisable and as these songs can be quite shouty they grated a little at times. The exit poll suggested people had struggled to hear the words and were disappointed by that. However the ovation the show received at the end proved they had been doing something right. They have been before and a lot of the audience had seen them already and returned quite happily.  So clearly there is scope and demand for this type of singing.

 Technically the stage looked stunning. Timed light chases, synchronized gobos, dancing lights and some lovely blues and reds made the stage look very attractive. However there was something going on with the sound. When the four were all pouring out their most powerful voices it was rather like witnessing a Town Cryer competition, who can sing the loudest.  Andrew Reiss won that tonight with a solo from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Are songs from the shows collectively a genre? That would make a fascinating discussion with stage school pupils or Performing Arts studiers. There is an incredibly wide and diverse back catalogue of show songs so maybe they could be a genre, but the counter argument to that would be that every storyline dictates the type of song/music you can write. So the genre of your show subject dictates how you write the songs. So that raises the question are they a genre?

They certainly weren’t short of material for tonight’s two hour spectacle and they kept the chat right down to a minimum. This is something one is always pleased about. The time Shrewsbury audiences have to sit through the,  “ is it Shrewsbury or Shrowsbury?”  If one regularly attends the Theatre you will be aware that most comedians start off with that question and one’s heart sinks when one hears it, so less banter is good. This show has the balance spot on.

This is a hard working show the cast don’t give themselves too much of an easy ride as they just kept going with consistent strength and energy. That is hard to do over a two hour period, singing is tiring, to act in a two hour show is massively easier that trying to engage an audience for two hours with just the voice. More power to their elbow. They all gave it the full 100%.

Drawing from shows like Miss Saigon, Crazy For you, The Lion King and Les Miserables one was delighted just how many songs from the show one actually knows. I even sang along to, The Winner Takes It All, very quietly under my breath.

This show can fill a theatre, it isn’t taxing on your grey matter and fans of this music would surely get a great deal of enjoyment from their programme.

When they told us they had been touring for 19 years, one thought they looked tired. However, I am sure they must have had just a couple of nights off over the last two decades.

This is an inoffensive show, a real find for fans of musicals. There isn’t many they seem to miss out.

However one might benefit in a crash course of who is who and what is what in the world of show music. That way if this is the stuff for you then you wouldn’t go far wrong seeing this ensemble and seeing what you think.

This is Three Star review.

Owen J.Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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