The Sound of Musicals

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Alison Kerr

four stars

ATTENDING The Sound of Musicals – or indeed any show of its ilk – is always a bit of a gamble, as you can never be sure that you’ll know the songs selected for the programme, even if you are a longstanding musical theatre aficionado. Friday night’s lucky dip into the back catalogue of Broadway and the West End seemed to throw up more numbers from the 1970s onwards than regular Sound of Musicals-goers might expect – but singers Kerry Ellis, Joanna Ampil, Graham Bickley and Oliver Tompsett plus the Scottish Concert Orchestra dished them up with such flair that they mostly proved impossible to resist.

Even some of the older songs in the programme were less familiar than one might have expected – and seemed to have been chosen as alternatives to the usual tunes that pop up over and over. An ensemble performance of Stephen Sondheim’s witty and wordy Comedy Tonight, from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, was an unexpected alternative to the usual There’s No Business Like Showbusiness or That’s Entertainment-style rousing celebration of putting on a show. And Cole Porter’s Friendship, from DuBarry Was a Lady, proved a worthy substitute for the more frequently performed duets Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better or I Can Do Without You.

The ensemble numbers, notably Seasons of Love (from Rent) and One (from A Chorus Line) were the highlights of the evening but other stand-outs included Ampil and Tompsett’s gorgeous If I Loved You, Ellis’s Send in the Clowns and Bickley’s obligatory Music of the Night, one of a handful of staples – along with the Les Mis medley and the closing Mamma Mia singalong – whose omission probably isn’t worth risking.