After a long year with the curtains down and the lights off, it was with great joy to once again set foot in a West End foyer. Monday Night at the Apollo is exactly the embrace that theatregoers need to cradle them back into the comfort of the creative arts. With its intimately sized auditorium, side splitting anecdotes and wonderfully charming line up, the evening felt like a cosy night in the living room catching up with old friends.
An unbeatable line up of Aimie Atkinson, Lucie Jones, Cedric Neal, Cassidy Janson and Julian Ovenden make for a wonderful grouping. Over the course of the evening we let out a chorus of guffaws at raunchy workshop tales, share in the difficulties of the past year and with a first-rate band of musicians backing, are treated to phenomenal renditions of a whole array of tunes. Host Greg Barnett navigates us through the evening with ease and only the fewest of obligatory album plugs, as we as an audience join together to celebrate theatres triumphant return to the stage.
Atkinson riles us up with a punchy Don’t Rain on my Parade, Ovenden’s powerful operatic voice shook up a Dolly Parton classic and Oleta Adam’s Get Here soulfully delivered by Janson, but it is Cedric Neal that entirely bowled me over. Neal’s performance from The Whiz is electrifying, his duet with Jones joyous and the honesty with which he delivers the Kinky Boots ballad Hold Me in Your Heart is unparalleled.
The performances fizz and crackle with the energy of an industry at the starting tape just raring to go and yet for all its flaunting, the display never once feels anything short of humble and human. Monday Night at The Apollo brings great talent but also great truth; it’s not often you hear of a former Captain Von Trapp ironically struggling with home-schooling his children, nor of a Waitress star trading her Pie making play for learning how to make sourdough at home.
Not even mild technical difficulties during Atkinson’s Rolling in the Deep can dampen the spirit of the performers or the audience, as we revel in the novelty of being back in our theatres and once again swearing to never take live performance for granted. For those who like to indulge in theatre chatter as well as getting to catch some remarkable talents flex their vocal prowess, I highly suggest taking a look at some of the upcoming Monday Nights at the Apollo for a relaxed and thoroughly entertaining evening.
Musical Direction by: George Dyer
Produced by: Greg Barnett and Hugh Summers for Wild Mountain Productions Ltd.
Monday Night at the Apollo currently has two further shows scheduled for 14 June and 5 July. All shows are also available to watch as a live stream or on-demand for a short period afterwards. Check website for further details.