Back again and bigger than ever - Roles We’ll Never Play arrives at the Lyric Theatre for a night of musical theatre madness. As it says on the tin, many of London’s West End stars hit the stage to perform songs not usually found in their repertoire. Whether that be gender, race, or context of the song, each performer gave an outstanding performance of how to perform a piece not usually fit for their casting.
Definitely a West End gem that I can only see growing from strength to strength
Following the success of their debut performance at the Apollo Theatre in 2020 and preceded by the sell-out two evening performance at the Vaudeville Theatre, Tom Duern (Producer) boldly takes his show to the Lyric Theatre. With a capacity of nearly 1,000, you could definitely feel the electric energy rustling through the venue. Sitting down, you could hear the whispering and chitter-chatter of “I wonder what they will sing”, and “I haven’t seen them perform since before the pandemic”.
Straight away we are introduced to our MC of the evening: Carl Mullaney. Known to many as a 'Soho and cabaret legend', we are instantly brought to ease by his calming rapport and great comedic timing. The passion Mullaney has when introducing each act is magical - allowing us all to really gear ourselves up for what we are about to hear in each musical set.
The first act consisted of performances from The Wizard Of Oz, Hercules, Memphis, Les Miserables, and a jazz rendition of Think Of Me from Phantom Of The Opera. Followed by the second act of Kinky Boots, Songs From A New World, Dear Evan Hansen, and Next To Normal. With standout performances from Genevieve Nicole, Jacob Fowler, Isaac Hesketh, Hiba Elchikhe, and Danielle Steers (an impeccable performance of Sweet Transvestite - you just HAD to be there), Roles We’ll Never Play continues to work to its strengths by bringing together the most versatile group of performers to create pure joy in such an intimate space.
The man of the hour however was the incredible Flynn Sturgeon (Musical Director). Throughout the evening, Sturgeon conducted and performed alongside a small orchestra to assist the performers. Each song is in its own key, with its own individual time changes and styles. Sturgeon expertly proves that they can handle whatever is thrown their way and through that created a beautiful soundtrack to flow during each transitional phase.
As great as the evening was, the repetition of ballad following after ballad became quite tiresome. There is no denying that everyone on the stage was talented however, as much as we (the audience) love seeing a performer go through the cycles of emotions in three minutes, it can be a bit much to soak up. We want to see the variety and unfortunately, there wasn’t much.There was also a lack of wanting to join in with what was going on. At moments when you wanted to clap your hands or get up and have a boogie, it all kind of fell flat. Sure, this evening is to enjoy the performers singing songs that would normally be classed as forbidden, but with the past few years and most recent events, we want to be encouraged to forget about the outside troubles and be involved in the fun of what isn’t the normal theatre norm.
Regardless of this, Roles We’ll Never Play is definitely a West End gem that I can only see growing from strength to strength and I will still be queuing up each year to get my fill of versatility within the performing arts. I am already looking forward to booking my ticket when the show arrives at the Palladium.