If you love Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals then there was no better way to celebrate it than in this magical concert celebrating one of the best partnerships in musical history.
What a line up: Michael Xavier, Louise Dearman, Ryan O’Gorman and Emma Kingston performing alongside the wonderful Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra to create an exquisite evening of music that highlighted a small selection of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s work.
Although there were plenty of familiar songs in there “The Sound of Music” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for example, it was an evening for lesser recognised songs to take to the spotlight that added a new depth and understanding to the way in which Rodgers and Hammerstein created their romantic and memorable music.
From the beautiful medley of songs performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra that was rich and deeply satisfying to listen to, all the way through to the heartfelt and powerful rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” there was no doubting the passion of all those involved to create an evening that ensured the audience left with a smile on their face.
But yet, there was the occasional moment in which it didn’t feel as though it flowed as easily as it could have. Some of the songs felt randomly placed in the programme, rather than having a coherent order which was slightly confusing.
However, naturally there was no questioning the quality of the performances. Louise Dearman was particularly delightful to listen to and watch, her infectious and bubbly personality really coming through in all of her performances and bring a smile to the audience’s face.
Emma Kingston was equally impressive, performing an astounding version of “The Sound of Music” that could have quite easily blown the roof off the Royal Festival Hall. Meanwhile, Michael Xavier was just as charming as ever, leading the audience in a beautiful rendition of “Edelweiss” and while Ryan O’Gorman perhaps looked slightly stiff at the start, he gradually warmed up to become an extremely likeable presence on stage.
As strong as the performances were and as as varied the songs were, there was something in the way in which the concert was presented that seemed a little bit cold, flitting from one song to the next without talking about even in a small sense the background to the song or the musical it was from. This was made all the more difficult due to the fact there was no programme available to refer to – a bad decision in retrospect.
But it was still a pleasure to listen to the fantastic performers and wonderful orchestra sweeping the audience on a perfectly lovely journey through an important part of musical history. We need more concerts like this.