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Music Review: An Evening of Movies & Musicals - Usher Hall, Edinburgh ✭✭✭✭



An Evening of Movies & Musicals returned to the Usher Hall last night delighting the packed audience with favourites old and new from stage and screen. Starring Joe McElderry, Kerry Ellis, Jai McDowall, Nathan James, Lorna Luft and Soul Nation with a chorus of 150 and the magnificent 50 piece British Sinfonietta orchestra, the stage was set for a superb evening of music. 

Opening with the iconic theme from Superman, the sound of the orchestra filled the beautiful hall showcasing the emotive power of music in films and the memories they evoke. Some of the selections from films were less instantly recognisable but exquisitely performed by the British Sinfonietta. The compere announced the titles of the pieces but in some cases this was after the performance and often lost in the ensuing applause from the audience. Throughout the evening the choir provided superb backing vocals as well as brilliant medley performances of songs from Evita and Hairspray.

Jai McDowall performed the first musical theatre song of the evening, the powerful, but probably most recognisable to fans of musical theatre, Anthem from Chess. Best known for winning Britain's Got Talent in 2011, McDowall overcame initial nerves to show off his vocal dexterity. He returned in the second half of the evening with an emotional performance of Bui Doi from Miss Saigon.

Rock tenor Nathan James brought the house down with a note perfect rendition of Aerosmith's I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing from the film Armageddon as well as a stunning performance of Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say) from Jesus Christ Superstar. It beggars belief that he didn't win ITV's search for Jesus with a performance like that. 

West End favourite Kerry Ellis performed a variety of numbers from stage and screen including two duets with Joe McElderry. She opened with an energetic performance of Somebody to Love backed by Soul Nation and the 150 strong choir followed by a crowd-pleasing duet of (I've had) The Time of my Life from Dirty Dancing that led into the interval and sent the audience dancing out to the bar. Her show-stopping performances of Defying Gravity from Wicked and I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables served to remind the audience why she is such an audience favourite. 

Broadway sensation and daughter of the legendary Judy Garland, Lorna Luft showed off her star quality with a witty performance of songs not nominated for an Oscar. She shared personal stories and her wonderful humour produced a laugh out loud performance. 

Top-billed Joe McElderry was the only member of the cast without a track record on stage but his performance of favourites like The Circle of Life from The Lion King and duet of Beauty and the Beast with Ellis showed why he has won numerous talent shows. He has an excellent vocal range and an army of fans in the audience who cheered on every performance.  Perhaps the only odd moment of the evening was his performance of Unbreak my Heart in both Spanish and English which isn't known for being in a film or musical but was performed beautifully.

The evening closed with a fitting finale of songs from West End phenomenon Les Miserables. Beginning with Ellis's I Dreamed a Dream and finishing with a whole cast performance of the rousing One Day More it was the perfect end to a night of wonderful music. 

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