Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra launched its new season with something a bit different, kick-starting artist-in-residence Bryn Terfel’s concert series with A Night at the Musicals. The show saw West End heavyweights Maria Friedman and John Owen-Jones helping out, for one of the most delightful evenings on stage you could catch all year.
Terfel had the audience with him from the off, encouraging an enthusiastic singalong even in his opening number, Oh What a Beautiful Morning. Seemingly without trying he had the crowd engaged and absorbed, he and Owen-Jones never short of a self-depreciating crap joke to keep the occasion light.
Friedman generally let the songs do the talking – quite literally during Company’s Getting Married Today, a speedy number with mind-bogglingly difficult lyrics that saw the singers pretend to bet a tenner she wouldn’t do it right (of course, she did); other highlights included the RLPO’s beautiful Carousel Waltz, and Friedman’s joyfully energetic I Happen to Like New York.
John Owen-Jones was never far from the stage and managed to hog all the real big hitters with some style. You may remember earlier this year how the West End stalwart was drafted in at the very last minute to perform in the lead of Phantom of the Opera at the Empire, when even the understudy fell ill. Having racked up thousands of performances of that and Les Miserables in his time, his Music of the Night and Bring Him Home were faultless.
The show finished with a selection of songs from Les Mis, before the unusual bonus (for the Phil) of an encore, the fitting You’ll Never Walk Alone. Our trio clearly loved the songs they were singing and loved the RLPO (“one of the best orchestras in the world… and I’m making them play Andrew Lloyd Webber,” joked Owen-Jones), and it showed in an outstanding concert in which every moment was a delight. Who needs the Proms with this on our doorstep?