Andy Howells sets out on his first review after the Covid19 Pandemic for A Night Under the Stars at Cardiff Castle with The West End Stars musical, Bring Them Home.
It’s the best part of 18 months since live performance was stopped due to the Covid19 pandemic, so it’s a relief in many ways that they are once again returning to venues across South Wales.
Saturday evening was my only opportunity of the week to attend a concert under the Live Under the Stars banner. Bring Them Home featured Welsh theatre stars Sophie Evans, Lucie Jones, Caroline Sheen, David Thaxton and Gruffydd Wyn performing a magical line up of songs from the West End within the iconic walls of Cardiff Castle.
The production curated and conducted by Cardiff born Matt Brind, featured musical accompaniment from The Welsh Pops Orchestra and the vibrant Bring Them Home Youth Choir, made up of youngsters from across Wales brought together for the event.
Audience Defy Rain For Open-Air Event
Although the open-air anticipation of Bring Them Home was exciting, it became clear that the weather wasn’t completely on the shows side on Saturday night. However, occasional rain showers and choppy wind was not going to deter the audience. While clouds were in the sky, the stars were firmly on the stage performing classics from Les Misérables and Phantom of The Opera under a chasm of colour in the grey august evening.
The concert opened with an incredible ensemble performance of From Now On, displaying that the on-stage performers were going to deliver with energy and charisma despite the weather. In fact, after a short while, the weather relented as those of us sporting cagoules literally took the spirit of Caroline Sheen’s rendition of Don’t Rain on My Parade to our hearts.
David Thaxton then brought the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber back to the South Wales stage with a haunting rendition from Phantom of Music of The Night. With Cardiff Castle lit up to our left-hand side, this was truly a beautiful experience in sight and sound.
Sophie Evans gave a wonderfully reflective performance of Over the Rainbow, while Lucie Jones rocked up the set with her rendition of Queen’s Someone to Love featuring uplifting support from the Bring Them Home Youth Choir. Gruffydd Wyn then completed the first selection of solo performances with an outstanding version of Nessun Dorma.
Showstopping Performances At Bring Them Home
David and Gruffydd then returned to the stage to perform renditions of Delilah and Green Green Grass of Home respectively. Both numbers (which had maximum audience vocalising) are to shortly feature in the forthcoming musical of Tom Jones’ songs also curated by Matt Brind, What’s New Pussycat?
The concert also highlighted new talent in the shape of three young stars from the Bring Them Home Youth Choir. A medley of hits from the musical Wicked defied gravity by raising the atmosphere further. Those showcased included Lili Mohammed singing The Wizard and I, before Sophie Evans returned to the stage with Popular and then a duet with Izzy Turner on For Good.
Rounding off the first half was a showstopping performance of the Whitney Houston hit, I Will Always Love You from 14-year-old Henry, a charismatic young man I feel certain we will hear from again in the future!
Stars Unite For Les Misérables Medley
The pace of the second half commenced in an upbeat fashion, kicking off with the Bring Him Home Youth Choir singing This Is Me from The Greatest Showman. Caroline Sheen brought some Disney magic from Mary Poppins with Feed the Birds, while Lucie Jones presented She Used To Be Mine from one of her many stage successes, Waitress. David Thaxton also reminded us of the brilliant homegrown musical Only the Brave from Matt Brind with his rendition of Band of Brothers.
The final segment saw all featured stars unite for a memorable medley of hits from Les Misérables. The magical high point seeing and hearing Lucie, Sophie and Caroline singing beautifully together with On My Own, I Dreamed a Dream and A Heart full of Love.
The finale of One Day More brought a memorable evening to a conclusion, finally bringing the West End stars and the magic of the musicals home to Wales in an unforgettable way.