Grand Opera House York – 5 September 2019
Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Beyond the Barricade have been touring all over the world for the last 20 years. On Thursday evening they visited York as part of their anniversary tour.
Andy Reiss and David Fawcett were first approached in 1996 by a charity to arrange and perform a musical theatre concert, they had originally met whilst performing in Les Miserables. This resulted in a series of concerts, featuring past performers from Les Mis, which then evolved into Beyond the Barricade.
This brand-new show features the singing talents of Katie Leeming and Poppy Tierney, accompanying Reiss and Fawcett, as well as three musicians, Russ Kennedy, Dave Williams and Daniel Goodger.
The show starts with the Queen song, The Show Must Go On, a homage to their 20 years of touring, and we were treated to photos of the company throughout the years. I’m a bit of a Queen fan so that was a major thumbs up from me. What followed was a journey through musical theatre, from old favourites like Miss Saigon, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Starlight Express, Chess and of course for their finale Les Mis. They also threw in a couple of numbers from the show of the moment, Hamilton, currently playing in the West End, as well as Anastasia, which is on Broadway but should be coming to our shores next year. I must admit I enjoyed the little medley from children’s musicals that they performed, titled Silly Medley, not very original. It consisted of snippets from Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, amongst others, transporting me back to childhood.
Fawcett had another string to his bow, he tells a great joke or two. He showed great interaction with the audience and if this singing malarkey doesn’t work out, he could always try his hand at becoming a stand-up comic. It is always great to see performers engaging with their audience, so much more relatable. Reiss was the vocal standout for me, even though all were excellent, I loved the tone in his voice and the expressions on his face. As well as singing, he also played keyboards and lead the musicians. As each singer performed, either as a solo, a pair, or as a group, you could see why all have had such successful careers and have appeared in so many productions. The harmonisation between all four is superb and they are all so extremely talented. The finale of Les Mis and One Day More was quite breath-taking, especially considering that it is usually performed with a full orchestra and cast.
It is amazing that the whole show was all live, singing and instruments, no tapes or backing tracks, a true testament to the talents of everyone who was up on that stage performing.
This is the show to go and see to experience musical theatre. A great opportunity to enjoy a snippet of the West End bought to York and other towns all across the UK.