Six months after they last shared the stage together, Dear Evan Hansen co-stars Sam Tutty and Nicole Raquel Dennis joined forces for a one-off concert at the Phoenix Arts Club. The show was performed live to an empty venue and streamed online. If you missed it, you missed out on something special!
The concert, by Lambert Jackson Productions, followed a concert from Waitress co-stars Luice Jones and David Hunter a few weeks ago. These double header concerts offer a great chance to hear a variety of songs and some unique duets.
Those expecting to hear a bit of 'Waving Through A Window' or something from Dreamgirls were in for a shock - while there were, of course, a couple of songs from Dear Evan Hansen, the setlist was far more interesting, unexpected and diverse than you might have expected. That didn't detract from it - if anything it added to the brilliance of the concert. The songs ranged from musical theatre numbers from RENT and The Last Five Years to P!nk and Harry Styles. The one consistency was each song performed showed off their amazing ranges.
In-between songs, Sam and Nicole shared stories of how they met, auditioning for the show and instantly bonding in New York. Their chemistry was undeniable with top notch banter but a genuine affection for one another that shone through as they sung together, or watched on with admiration in each others solo numbers.
Sam Tutty came to attention when he was picked to play the lead role in the West End production of Dear Evan Hansen. Nominated for Best Actor at this years delayed Olivier awards, it's clear to see why. He channels all his emotion through song and gives an acting masterclass while serenading us with his angelic tone. His version of Harry Styles' recent single 'Falling' was a highlight while a standout moment came in a truly emotional rendition of 'For Forever' reduced Sam to tears in what he said was because of how much he was missing being in the show/
Nicole Raquel Dennis is someone I have come to admire a lot more during lockdown. While she has been great in Waitress and Dear Evan Hansen, the roles she played didn't really give her voice the chance to shine like it so obviously can. The recent Turn Up! concert she co-organised was a moment I really started to take notice, and this concert proved why she is one of the most talented performers in the West End. An absolutely beautiful of 'Second Hand White Baby Grand' near the start of the set had the (virtual) audience eating out of the palm of her hand, an emotional version of P!nk's 'Who Knew; accompanied by a story of how the song helped Nicole with grief after the loss of a friend meant we were all there with her.
Another emotional moment in the evening came when Nicole sung a song from Dear Evan Hansen. Nicole has since been cast as Effie in the forthcoming UK tour of Dreamgirls. The closure of theatres has meant she has been unable to have a proper goodbye to her character Alana so she used this as her "goodbye song" for the show, before performing a song she doesn't usually get to perform - 'So Big, So Small'
Performances like this made it clear that Nicole deserves to be a leading lady in musicals. Her voice is a powerhouse, showing a real versatility with sweetness when it needs to be, belting for dear life at other times, and everything else in-between.
Even with social distancing, the chemistry between Sam and Nicole was undeniable. This may be the last time we get to see them share a stage together and they certainly made the most of every moment of this opportunity. They also made it clear that each song was an audition for a musical they would like to be cast in with Nicole calling their duet of 'I See The Light' from Tangled her formal audition for the forthcoming tour of Beauty & The Beast.
What made this so special was how clear it was how much Sam and Nicole love performing, love musical theatre and how much they have missed it. Their joy and passion at having this outlet oozed through the screen, creating a concert which featured flawless performance after flawless performance, never putting a foot wrong.
Two up and coming names in musical theatre, the sky is the limit for both Sam Tutty and Nicole Raquel Dennis. The pair have more charisma between them than most people - put them together and they are unstoppable. Expect to hear a lot more from them and all the awards they are bound to win in years to come.
If I Didn't Believe In You (Sam solo)
Second Hand White Baby Grand (Nicole solo)
As Long As You're Mine
So Big, So Small (Nicole solo)
You Matter To Me
Falling (Sam solo)
I See The Light
Who Knew (Nicole solo)
For Forever (Sam solo)
Written In The Stars
Catch Sam Tutty in Dear Evan Hansen when it reopens in early 2021, and Nicole Raquel Dennis in the UK tour of Dreamgirls next year.