Samantha Barks – Live at Zedel

Samantha Barks - ALJ Shoot.jpg smallSamantha Barks performed in cabaret at Live at Zedel, London.

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Fresh from an American tour, a new album launch and fantastic run of The Last Five Years as Cathy at St James Theatre, Samantha Barks treated the Zedel audience to an intimate evening of vocal acrobatics as she took us through the delights of her new recording, and some other festivities.

Live at Zédel was the perfect venue for the set and the band. With its classy 1920s vibe and elegant bartenders, it fit Barks’ cabaret like a flapper girl’s glove.

Throughout the show, Barks proved that there was no style she couldn’t sing. The cabaret opened with a country sound in her performance of ‘Troublemaker’, and then moments after she effortlessly slipped into a jazzy rendition of ‘As Long As He Needs Me’. Barks’ take on the Oliver! classic was gorgeously smooth and the arrangement sublime.

Barks was endearing onstage as she continually chatted to the audience about her Christmas mishaps and undying festive spirit. She addressed several members of the audience as if they were old friends and even requested (and received) Christmas tree advice. Barks connected with the audience instantly.

The absolute highlight of the set was Barks’ rendition of Jason Robert Brown’s ‘I Can Do Better Than That’. Barks spoke joyfully about her love of The Last Five Years and how she had to smother her inner JRB fan girl (perhaps one of the most relatable moments of the show) when asked to play Cathy.

Barks’ voice was off the scale and she sang the classic with ease. The only negativity was the regret I felt after for not catching the performance when she recently played the role opposite Jonathan Bailey.

Barks shone from start to finish, and when she performed her penultimate song, ‘On My Own’, we were left wondering if there was anything she could not master. The actress/singer was charismatic and brought exquisite charm to each number.

After a quick costume change into something more festive, Barks closed the show with a Christmas favourite, ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.

Barks spoke with pride about being a Belieber, but I think it’s safe to say that after the last note had been nailed, the room was filled with Barkliebers (or ‘Sprouts’, as Barks’ fan base is called). The cabaret was faultless, Barks enticed the audience, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Lucy Beirne

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