Entering its 17th year, Beyond the Barricade dubs itself as a ‘musical theatre concert tour’, where a quartet of former Les Miserables principle cast members deliver a show filled with hits from a score of West End shows. However in my opinion, it was more akin to a tasting menu at a restaurant than anything else.
With songs from 14 of the biggest and best musicals to have ever graced London’s West End there was something for everyone, but despite this the overall experience was disjointed and underwhelming. Aside from the odd moment here and there it was really difficult to get into and in the end I found myself willing for it to finish, which wasn’t fair on either the performers or the musicians involved.
That was my issue with the whole evening, everything was an “almost” or a “nearly” but not quite there.
Unfortunately that same issue seemed to consume the performers too. All are involved in Beyond the Barricade based on merit and all have impressive vocal ranges but too often the harmonies just would not work. I found myself sat there and thinking “really” too much for my liking.
This is not to say that there wasn’t some stand out moments that really made you think that – on another day – this ‘concert tour’ would tick all the boxes. Former Jean Valjean and producer of Beyond the Barricade David Fawcett gave a fantastic rendition of ‘Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera as well as a stunning duet of Spamalot’s ‘The Song that goes like this’ with Rebecca Vere. In fact, Rebecca Vere provided us with one of the stand-out moments of the night by singing Carousel’s cult hit ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Andy Reiss (vocalist, musician and director of Beyond the Barricade) and Katie Leeming then provided us with a great taste of what Evita can offer.
Despite the dodgy harmonies and the ups and downs of the evening I eagerly anticipated the final element of the evenings; songs from Les Miserables. Now, I am a huge fan of Les Mis having seen it twice and listened to the soundtrack more times than I can count. With the vocalists all being former Les Mis principle cast members my expectations were high and, vocally, those expectations were met. Disappointingly a decision had been made to abbreviate some of the songs in order to fit more in, which didn’t sit at all well with me.
If you have the money then Beyond the Barricade is worth a punt. Maybe it will introduce you to some new musicals or rekindle your love for old ones, but I wouldn’t say for anyone to go out of their way to see it.
Although I’m just one voice and one opinion and maybe you would like to make up your own mind.