After a week when reality TV seems to have been the biggest story in musical theatre circles, it was refreshing to witness (and hear) some actual “reality” musical theatre performances at the Union Theatre on Sunday night. For one night, the Southwark fringe venue noted for presenting cutting-edge musical theatre productions was the host to a cabaret evening: “Chloe Hart: Redesign”. The talent on display was ample proof that no one needs to go any further than a West End or London Fringe stage to find true musical theatre stars of the highest calibre.
Chloe Hart, a graduate of the Guidford School Of Acting who made her West End debut wowing audiences as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, is currently in the cast of West End smash Wicked - two highly contrasting shows which should indicate in advance Miss Hart’s versatility as a performer - versatility that was further highlighted in a series of knock-out renditions of songs in a variety of styles in her cabaret. Equally at home with a subtle ballad, a comedic character song or belting out an anthemic torch-song, her vocals and dramatic delivery were quite stunning.
The stellar cast of guest vocalists who joined Chloe Hart on the intimate Union stage maintained the high standard of performance. These performances included the beautifully toned voice of Wicked’s Charlotte Scott, the incredible vocal dynamics of Rebecca Trehearn (Ghost, Love Story), the charm and lush vocals of Liam Doyle (Mamma Mia, Hairspray), the wit and heartfelt vocal performances of Thomas Sutcliffe (Wicked), the flawless comic timing of Lucy May Barker (Sweeney Todd, Spring Awakening) and the sheer class and immense vocal presence of Gina Beck (Wicked, The Phantom Of The Opera).
The song choices too were all from the top drawer of the musical theatre songbook - many of them (commendably) from the pens of rising stars of musical theatre song writing. There were songs from the new generation of songwriters from America (Kooman and Dimond, Pasek and Paul, Scott Alan, Jonathan Reid Gealt and Bobby Cronin) and the UK (Alexander Bermange and Chris Passey, who wrote the song Stagey And Proud specially for Chloe Hart) as well as the Transatlantic writing partnership of Anderson and Petty. There was also material from more established writers, such as Whitman and Shaiman, William Finn, Andersson, Ulvaeus and Rice and Stephen Schwartz (with the almost obligatory and seriously amazing performance of Wicked’s For Good by Miss Hart and Miss Beck).
From the mind-blowing vocal harmonies of the opening trio by Chloe Hart, Rebecca Trehearn and Charlotte Scott (Scott Alan’s I’m A Star) to the awe-inspiring Finale (Chloe Hart blowing the roof off the house backed by her guests with Nobody’s Side from Chess), this cabaret (which was masterfully supervised and accompanied on the piano by musical director George Dyer) was a simply delightful evening which thoroughly deserved the standing ovation it received from its audience.