Empty vessels make the most noise, but that isn’t a universal principle, as an emotive and passionate concert from rising star Christina Bennington demonstrated during two sold-out concerts (albeit to a small venue) just 48 hours after the ‘final act’ of Bat Out of Hell The Musical, something she managed to refrain from mentioning for all of twenty minutes (if that). No matter: it was that show that really put Bennington on the map, so to speak, and on both sides of the Atlantic, in a production of Bat (there are others) that started life in Manchester before heading to the capital, and then to Toronto and back.
It’s already becoming a bit of a cliché to say that Bennington has remarkable versatility as an actor, singer and dancer – there are, of course, many actors whose industry deems them to be ‘triple threats’, which I find a bit of a misnomer on most occasions (and Miss Bennington is no exception), because on meeting such people, one discovers that they aren’t very threatening at all. The audiences at Live at Zédel were treated to a teeny-weeny bit of dancing, as much as the small performance space would allow (that is, not very much at all, and it wasn’t so much dancing as swaying). For a venue whose performances usually have just a piano for a performer’s accompaniment, the musical director for these gigs, Noam Galperin, did well to have guitars and percussion as well.
You wouldn’t have thought so, or at least I wouldn’t have anyway, but the inclusion of musical numbers from Bat Out of Hell The Musical proved a little divisive amongst members of the audience. For some, it was a case of ‘too soon’, and brought back memories of a show that had only closed days before, and for others (like me), it would have been rather odd not to have acknowledged that chapter in Bennington’s career to date in some form. Thus, proceedings ended with ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’. And partway through the first half, ‘Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)’, excised from Bat fairly early on but revived for the show’s final night, made another appearance.
Ably supported by Dan Buckley (Eugenius, Jest End, The Book of Mormon) and Danielle Steers (Bat Out of Hell The Musical, Beautiful – the Carole King Musical, The Bodyguard) the evening was an eclectic mix, including an Avril Lavigne tune (with which I could not claim any familiarity with at all) to ‘Green Finch and Linnet Bird’ from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (which I must have heard dozens of times before by various sopranos) to an Irish folk tune. As one would expect from an ‘up close and personal’ show, some stories and anecdotes from childhood to the present day were sprinkled throughout the evening’s proceedings. The storytelling is as much of a spectacle as the singing. As it used to be said at the Dominion Theatre, “Wow, that’s beautiful. You have such a way with words.
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.