Brendan Cole: Show Man – Review – Sage Gateshead

There’s just something about the man. The man that is Brendan Cole. The man appeals to many generations if my fellow audience members at Sage Gateshead are anything to go by. The man is here for one night only.

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for (woah)……..

Festooned in ringmaster attire equaling the most well-known ringmaster of this decade, Hugh Jackman, incase an introduction was needed, this marvelous showman was ready to give a performance to get the audience talking.

BC’s ability to dance, choreograph, sing (I know, who knew?) play the guitar (in all honesty the guitar was in hand but the I’m not sure if I could hear Mr. Cole play as the rest of the music was loud around it) and surround himself with talented musicians, singers, dancers and in Newcastle childhood talent from Chimney Sweep Theatre Company is a skill in itself. This is the first show of BC’s that I have seen and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect but an early spoiler…… It was so much better than I could have imaged.

The stage isn’t huge at Sage Gateshead but the compact staging worked well. Stripped back and simplistic but not lacking in any way.

Although this is a Cole production he was not frightened to let the rest of the team shine. Before I get onto the dancers can I talk about Iain Mackenzie please? Thank you. His voice, arr man it was so good. Even from row P you could see the playful twinkle in this man’s eyes. No matter what song he brought it to life from the first note.

Lets not forget to mention the talent of Jenna Lee James, at first I didn’t really enjoy the vocals but when Jenna’s tone deepened so did my liking and I appreciated the way she goofed around with the whole team.

The team of dancers was made of four men; Domenico, Moreno, Giorgio and Gary and three women; Crystal, Nancy and Kallyanne. All of which were extremely talented and everyone’s talents could be seen throughout the eclectic array of dances. The dancing was not flawless, and timing was off in parts, but this somehow added to the beauty of the production.  Costumes, oh my. They were a thing of beauty.  From wings with fairy lights, sequins, carnival styling, tassels and of course Brendan’s ‘cool’ pink slacks, white vest and braces. I also loved the dinner jackets, the suave tails, knee high riding boots. I could swerve the cowboy boots and the final costumes though.

Did I forget to mention that BC also provided the narrative throughout the performance which was such a great touch, it hooked the audience in even more. We all loved him coming into the audience and we all not so secretly wanted to be the lady that received not one but to kissed from Mr. Charisma himself. At one point he managed to pull a very tall drape down the majority of the office wouldn’t have known but he decided to balance the scene and pulled another drape down. He could have kept the fact hidden but he fessed up at the end of the number. This is what makes BC so likeable.

I’ve made my dad, Hubby to be and daughter all listen to one of the songs I’ve never heard before, Cinderella and it will be my daddy/daughter wedding dance if we ever get around to it (engaged since 2007). Having a young girl on stage depicting the song brought the narrative to life for me strangely I would have loved the adult woman dancer to be wearing a matching dress to the little girl to link them even more closely. Brendan made this number even more poignant after telling us how his wife’s eyes filled with tears when she first listened to the song.

The show ends with Footloose and even though BC kept mentioning it was the last number for some reason it didn’t feel like it was the end, the song and dancing were good, and I love the film, but this was to me my least favorite performance and I wanted more. 

Brendan you are a perfect storyteller, through dance, music and words and what you have created is fabulous. Your consummate charisma is effortless and endearing and I think you’ve managed to fill the hearts even more of us Northern lads and lasses.

We are lucky in the North East as Showman is on at Darlington Hippodrome on Sunday 17March. Mmmm very tempted to buy tickets. Even if I don’t manage to get tickets I’m going to go and buy a programme as I left the one I bought accidentally at Sage and I did try to buy another at the end.

To end how you began in the words of P.T Barnum, “The noblest art is that of making others happy” and you Mr. Cole have made me very happy.

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