Review: Heart and Soul: A Motown, RNB and Soul Celebration, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

On Tuesday evening, Conductor, David Mahoney and the Novello Orchestra brought their third and final programme of the 2019-20 concert series to Wales Millennium Centre. Heart and Soul: A celebration of Motown, Soul and RNB was a fast-paced presentation featuring musical stars of the West-End and Broadway, glitzy dance sequences and faithful orchestrations of classic hits.

The concert got underway with The Novello Orchestra’s instrumental rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s September demonstrating the orchestra’s ease at applying themselves to a 1970s disco hit under the enthusiastic lead of David Mahoney.

The atmosphere began to rise as star of Rent, Shannay Holmes took to the stage to sing Whitney Houston’s debut hit I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Shannay would make several returns to the stage during the concert, but it was her rendition of Diana Ross’s Touch Me in the Morning which received the warmest reception from the audience.

Tiger Bay and Hamilton star, Dom Hartley Harris turned his hand to soulful performances of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together and Jackie Wilson’s Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher. His pairing with Shannay Holmes on Marvin Gaye & Tammy Tyrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough definitely brought the magic of Motown to the Millennium Centre stage.

Trevor Dion Nicholas has endeared many musical fans across the world for his appearances in Aladdin and Hamilton on Broadway and the West-End. Here he added another string to his bow with soul-drenched performances of James Brown’s Papa’s Got a Brand-New Bag and Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke. Trevor also joined Dom Hartley-Harris for a version of The Commodores Easy giving the audience the unique opportunity to see two actors who have played President George Washington in Hamilton sing together on stage.

Broadway star Marisha Wallace spent her day off from her final week in Waitress at the West-End to complete the concerts all-star line-up. Marisha began by delighting with a Hi-NRG performance of Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman and getting a standing ovation for And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls.  Sounding and looking every inch the star, Marisha later rocked the audience with Proud Mary before delivering pure soul in the second half with performances of Aretha Franklin’s Respect and Natural Woman.

Throughout the evening, The Novello Orchestra provided musical accompaniment in the spirit of the original songs and demonstrated why they are one of the most exciting live orchestras currently on the live circuit. Delivering excellent instrumental renditions of Barry White’s Love’s Theme as well as Kool and The Gang’s Celebration, Quincy Jones, Soul Bossa Nova and a James Brown Medley, there was also the added visual treat of the vibrant and energetic Debbie Chapman School of Dance on the latter three numbers.

Conductor, David Mahoney also delighted the audience with his enthusiasm and humour, of which he engaged the audience with the musical journey in a fun way. From referring to the individual stars of the concert as his favourites to reading out audience tweets from social media, David shines personality as well as presence.

The concert ended on a high with Trevor, Shannay, Dom and Marisha uniting with David and the Novello Orchestra for a rousing rendition of Martha & The Vandellas Dancing in The Streets or as David joked to the audience “Dancing by Your Seats!” At this point, not only were the performers giving the show all their heart and soul, but so were the audience. What a fabulous way to end a concert!

  • Photographs by Polly Thomas

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