Review: Lizzie Bea - Up Close & Personal (Union Theatre)

The Unusual Theatre Company have been hosting a series of intimate concerts at the hidden gem that is the Union Theatre - a stones throw from the Young Vic (depending on how far you can throw a stone obviously), the latest of which was from who I believe to be one of the greatest talents the West End has to offer at the moment.



Over the last year, Lizzie Bea has won a whole new legion of fans, leading the revival of Hairspray with a truly incredible portrayal of Tracy Turnblad before going straight into Heathers as Martha (a role she originally played in the workshop but was never able to reprise for the first West End run). You won't have too long to wait before seeing her on a stage again as she is about to appear as Sister Mary Robert in Sister Act both in London and on the UK tour. The concert featured obligatory numbers from each of those shows, getting off to a rousing start with 'Good Morning Baltimore' before a double whammy ending of 'Kindergarten Boyfriend' and 'The Life I Never Led' which certified Sister Act is going to be one of the must-see shows of the year.


As well as songs from Lizzie’s career so far, we were also treated to songs that mean something to her. Musical theatre numbers were mixed in with some pop hits, with beautiful renditions of ‘Because Of You’ from Kelly Clarkson and ‘Lost In Translations’ from LIFT among the highlights. The songs were interspersed with stories from Lizzies life so far, including her time in Kinky Boots where she met her now boyfriend leading to a fantastic gender swapped ‘Step One’ and her love of country music giving us a fabulous version of Dolly Partons ‘Coat of Many Colours’ where Lizzie proclaimed how much she’d like to play the Narrator in a certain musical featuring its own coat of many colours.



Accompanied by a band of four, Lizzie was also joined by two special guests for the night. Her boyfriend Alfie Parker showed why they are contenders for one of the most talented stagey couples with a gorgeous duet of ‘You Shine’ from Carrie before Alfie wowed the audience with a solo performance of ‘I’ve Been’ from Next To Normal, made all the more special by his beautifully honest speech about his own journey with his mental health and anxiety. Lizzie was also joined by her former Hairspray colleague Robyn Rose-Li who showcased truly amazing vocals on ‘The Last Of Our Kind’ from King Kong before stepping into the shoes of Jessica Vosk for a duet of ‘Night Bus’ from Becoming Nancy.


What was clear to see throughout this concert was the warmth Lizzie possesses both as a performer and a person. Full of personality, it added an extra layer to the songs that were already expertly performed thanks to the calibre of her voice. The decision to bring in items from her own house and transform the stage into a lounge was an inspired touch – as was the decision to have whoever wasn’t performing out of the three of them on a couch on the stage – can we have more homely feeling concerts please?



Taking away any perceived barrier between performer and audience, this intimate concert felt incredibly special. An immeasurable talent from Lizzie and her guests performing a truly fantastic setlist created an utterly joyous night. With each role Lizzie does, more and more people wake up to what an almighty talent she really is – that is set to continue with Sister Act and whatever she does in the future. If you do ever get a chance to see Lizzie in concert, you’d be a fool to miss it.


Setlist:


Good Morning Baltimore (from Hairspray)

Out Here On My Own (from Fame)

Coat Of Many Colours (Dolly Parton)

You Shine (from Carrie) (Duet with Alfie Parker)

The Last Of Our Kind (from King Kong) (Robyn Rose-Li solo)

Because Of You (Kelly Clarkson)

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Lost In Translations (from LIFT)

Step One (from Kinky Boots)

I've Been (from Next To Normal) (Alfie Parker solo)

Night Bus (from Becoming Nancy) (Duet with Robyn Rose-Li)

Kindergarten Boyfriend (from Heathers)

The Life I Never Led (from Sister Act)


★★★★★


Follow @TheatreUnusual on Twitter to find out about their next concerts.

You can next see Lizzie in Sister Act with tickets available from https://www.sisteractthemusical.co.uk/london/


Photos by Michaela Walshe