Waiting In The Wings Live Review at Tyne Theatre and Opera House
Waiting in the Wings with West End Stars
30th September 2023
Waiting in the Wings has become a staple at The Tyne Theatre and Opera House. This now annual event started at the height of the global pandemic to offer some entertainment online during the interminable lockdowns when all the theatres were closed or dark as they say in the theatre business. With theatres now fully open the Waiting in the Wings team were able to flex their unrestricted talent and a wonderful evening was had by all.
The evening opened with a wonderful rendition of Stars Look Down from Billy Elliot and introduced the titular West End Stars along with the senior and junior choirs of West End Prep and a wonderful wall of sound they all made. Being from Billy Elliot this added a local feel to the show and opened what was a wonderful evening of superb vocals and some surprises along the way.
There was a lot to pick from in the first half with songs from the beautiful The Bridges of Madison County (Joseph Claus and Jacqueline Hughes), Chess (Jenna Boyd), and some comical numbers from Shrek and Matilda (Kris Manuel) but the highlight for me in the first act was Claus rocking out with all the kids of the choir and sticking it to the man from School of Rock. It was clear that the 43 strong children’s chorus were thoroughly enjoying their time singing from the glorious Tyne Theatre stage.
Into the second act and there was a tender and loving tribute to Jo Hawes who passed away in April with all the kids singing a new number called Still Holding my Hand before a wonderful rendition of Sunday, the finale of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George which had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and totally deserve the rapturous applause it received.
This year we were treated to a live band on the stage consisting of some very familiar names to the pit of the Tyne Theatre and Opera House as well as other theatres in the region including Andrew Soulsby and Jack Elsdon on keys, Simon Ferry on drums, Peter Morris on bass, and Alex Young on guitar and directed by Amy Mellor who added another keys to the strong band. I was sitting fairly centrally and could only really see Amy and Andrew. I know pit musicians are a shy breed largely down to their natural habitat in the dark but this was their chance to shine which they did through the music they provided.
The stage was set up with rostra for the choir to stand on and the band set off to one side. There was a screen at the back which showed a lovely montage of the cast arriving and some behind the scenes footage before the show began but Paul Oliver’s often subtle lighting changes really lifted the performances for everyone. The sound provided by Tyne Audio was impeccable and with a huge number of mics to control, this was, in itself no mean feat.
My final praise goes to the directors, Mark Hedges and Kristen Spitty and musical director, Amy Mellor for a military grade production where everyone seemed to know exactly where they had to be and what was coming up. The sound generated when the whole cast were singing together was spell binding and I am already looking forward to the next instalment of Waiting in the Wings with West End Stars at the glorious Tyne Theatre and Opera House.
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