Kieran Brown performed Music That Matters with a selection of guest artists at the Union Theatre, London.
Beginning with a low-key entrance, and unusually the lights up rather than dimmed, actor and singer Kieran Brown (currently appearing in the Rodgers and Hammerstein piece Pipe Dream at the Union Theatre) opened with a gentle medley of ‘Someone’s Waiting For You’ and ‘Smile’. After introducing himself, he invited us to write the titles of our favourite songs, and why they mattered, on prepared slips of paper. These were not to be sung either by him or his guests, but taken out of a hat and shared throughout the evening – a nice original touch, which helped to engage us.
Brown sang well and had presence, relating warmly with the audience and putting both them and his guests at ease. Among the numbers that showed him at his best were ‘Pie in the Sky’, a great folk, pop-style ballad from Taboo, and ‘If They Only Knew’, sung with real conviction and powerful emotion.
Each of his many guests from the world of musical theatre made excellent individual contributions, both vocally and in terms of acting through song. While everyone did well, inevitably some stood out for different reasons. Kira Morsley has a lovely classical musical theatre voice, and it was good to hear ‘Home’ from Phantom as a duet with Brown, effectively showing us a small scene from the show.
The huge voice of Charlotte Scott, currently appearing with Brown in Pipe Dream, singing ‘They Just Keep Moving the Line’ made a big impact, and I particularly enjoyed Michelle LaFortune’s passionate and committed rendition of ‘Music and the Mirror’.
One guest I want to make special mention of, however, is Jeroen Robben. Not only does he have a fine voice, but he was the only one of the guests to really embrace the ‘cabaret’ element of the evening and dare to break the fourth wall when singing, looking directly at us and really engaging us in the telling of the story through the song, rather than presenting the character or scenario from the show it originated from.
As a whole entity, the evening had its flaws. It was too long with too many elements and would certainly need tightening if it were to go on to do a run. It also had a thrown together and unrehearsed feel to it, not least with material read from crib sheets and not learned, which would be less acceptable in a different setting. Nonetheless, this was a fun, enjoyable evening, well-balanced with a variety of material, and these shortcomings could be easily surmounted should the show be taken further.
It would also be interesting to see Brown develop in the art of cabaret, creating a one-man programme, telling us a coherent story through the music and lyrics, and using a variety of vocal styles and techniques to aid his narrative. The potential to do so is certainly there in this artist and I hope one day, when he is not so busy in his role as a musical theatre performer, he will rise to that challenge.
Other guests were Erin Cornell, Loula Geater and Georgie Burdett. Musical director Simon Lambert accompanied throughout and was occasionally joined by cellist Maria Rodriguez Reina.