After 'Les Miz'

London’s West End alone boasts more than twenty musical which are currently being staged so that makes it impossible physically and financially to lap all of them in one holiday so I looked forward to the 5th visit of the quartet who perform under the name of Beyond the Barricade whom have become famous by singing out fabulous tunes from the most famous musicals. The famous group returned to Malta to perform their shows during last weekend, thanks to Masquerade Theatre Company. I rave over anything that it is staged live as long as it is made from the heart but I have a special soft spot for musicals. There’s fantasy, melodies, escapism, spectacle, and in many cases, characters which I tend to associate myself with, funnily enough even the depressing stuff isn't quite so bad when you hear it so professionally sung.

Andy Reiss and David Fawcett rightly lead the team of four since Beyond the Barricade is their baby, inspired by the performances they were doing together in the record-breaking and ageless Les Miserable’s ages ago. Both eventually appeared in the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Mis at the Royal Albert Hall in 1995. Unlike the men, the female singers have not been fixtures in the group so that Beyond the Barricade keeps going from strength to strength by working on a balance between stable and fresh blood. This time round, Claire Marlowe has recently teamed up with Andy and David, while Katie Leeming has made a welcome return after a two-year break. All together they breathe the amazing magic of West End productions since they have taken part in countless star roles.

Their format is simple: Two male singers, two female and a band. They then go through a repertoire of show tunes... mostly from musicals currently or recently running in the West End of London. It was exciting to sing and sway to hits from Chicago, Blood Brothers, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, Spamalot, Wicked, We Will Rock You and of course, Les Mis . Between each number or medley David Fawcett shows the audience that he is not just a half decent baritone, he also possesses the timing of a natural stand-up comedian. I loved one of his comments which was “I love coming to Malta because everything stand still” “You are still building the new hospital and looking for doors!”
The musical director Andy Reiss - (who recently musically directed Masquerade’s spectacular production of Suessical and The Rocky Horror Show) - as well as singing, also accompanies the quartet on keyboards. The ladies, Claire Marlow and Katie Leeming both have terrific show voices and belt out the numbers with panache and sheer class. The atmosphere and power in Beyond the Barricades' performances is truly infectious as the artists resonate out the magic of each number.

I was very lucky that I watched the performance from box 11 exactly opposite the stage and with some lovely company all of which are avid fans of the musical so I wonder how the two unlucky patrons who had to sit behind us and bear our singing too felt. all I know is that once again Beyond The Barricade got me hooked again on the musicals and I’ m planning of visiting London to attend one of the musicals this summer. Most probably The Phantom of the Opera and in the meantime I look forward to their next interpretation in Malta because no matter how many times you watch their show, they never fail to capture the essence of the musical's narrative, even if they're singing just one song. What's more, they are a complete act in themselves.
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