Review: Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds – Alive on Stage, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds – Alive on Stage returned to Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on Sunday evening.

The arena- based show really lives up to its title,. War of The Worlds literally becomes “Alive on Stage” bringing the plot of HG Wells original story to life with a rock opera soundtrack performed by the original album’s creator, Jeff Wayne and his orchestra. The audio-visual experience is enhanced further with  spectacular use of lights and projections  on both stage and on a video wall that includes pre-recorded pieces.

As the orchestra quietly made their way onto the stage the house lights dimmed, and the show began. Opening with the appearance of the hologram of Liam Neeson as the Narrator, even from the furthest point of the seating, the vision was fantastic.

It quickly became apparent that having the orchestra on stage gave the show another dimension and the sound dynamic was in comparison to that of a rock concert. I particularly loved watching the ULLAdubULLA strings orchestra in full swing and that during the large instrumental pieces, individual members of the Black Smoke Band were thrown into the spotlight by being highlighted on the projection screens.

Another asset to Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds is the all-star cast tht graces the stage to bring the musical alive to the audience.

Softly sung by British singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner, Forever Autumn was a highlight of the performance first half.  The song was completed with an autumnal atmosphere with leaves falling from the ceiling during the performance.

Another highlight was Inglorious’ lead singer Nathan James magnificent performance of Thunderchild, which really lent itself to James vocal talents.

Jason Donovan returned to the role of the deluded Parson, Nathaniel alongside Carrie Hope Fletcher as his wife, Beth. Both their performances were outstanding and emotive with a believable chemistry between them. 

My personal favourite was Adam Garcia, performing on his debut tour as The Artilleryman. Garcia gets the most stage time out of all the guest-star appearances and his highlight was undoubtedly that of Brave New World where part of his performance takes place on a bridge extended over the audience.

The whole show is a visual treat and thanks to the live music on stage the high energy is kept from the opening number to the final minute.  I feel very privileged to have seen such a magnificent production including such a talented cast “alive on stage!”

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