I haven’t sat through such an infectiously warm and gushing performance from a musical theatre actor doing their own concert with an orchestra since seeing Idina Menzel at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. Lucie Jones had booked in the London Musical Theatre Orchestra (conducted, as ever, by the effervescent Freddie Tapner), plus special guests John Owen-Jones and Marisha Wallace, but the production budget somehow couldn’t stretch to a table or a stand, leaving her to bend down periodically to consult notes taped to the floor of the Adelphi Theatre stage.
At the time of writing, the Adelphi is home to the West End production of the Broadway musical Waitress, though Jones is not in the show for some weeks as the show’s composer, Sara Bareilles, is playing the leading role of Jenna herself, alongside Gavin Creel (thus putting David Hunter on hiatus as well). This is not the first time Jones has been rather uncharitably treated by Waitress, and frankly she was more than gracious to that production. Whatever one thinks of Waitress as a show (I’ve been once and have not at all been inclined to return), Lucie Jones deserved, and deserves, better.
Anyway, the concert itself was highly authentic, peppered with anecdotes stretching back as far as her amateur dramatics days and even her childhood. One gradually realised over the course of the evening Jones’ sheer versatility, in a set that ranged from ‘A Piece of Sky’ from Yentl to ‘Take Me Or Leave Me’ from Rent (sung with Marisha Wallace, who stood waiting for quite a long time before her ‘bit’ in the song began) to ‘Never Give Up On You’, the United Kingdom’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
She’s done Les Misérables, including being part of the huge cast of casts for that show for its 25th anniversary celebrations at The O2 Arena. She was in We Will Rock You, and had played Molly Jensen in Ghost the Musical in China. She played the lead character in Legally Blonde the Musical, Elle Woods, in the 2017-18 UK tour of the Curve Theatre Leicester production, and before that toured in a production of The Wedding Singer, itself preceded by a UK tour of Rent. She is married to Ethan Boroian, who she first met when they both auditioned for the ITV Saturday night show ‘The X-Factor’ in 2009. And for all that, she is still only 28 years young.
‘She Used To Be Mine’, that slightly overcovered song from Waitress, had the capacity crowd on its feet. The second half also included ‘Moon River’ – which I tend to associate in my own mind with Andy Williams (1927-2012), but was originally performed by Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) in the motion picture Breakfast At Tiffany’s – and a surprisingly charming rendering of ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Misérables. Jones very much came across after the show as someone who doesn’t take her fanbase for granted. (I noted others in front of me in the queue to meet her had brought gifts, and having pointed out to her that I didn’t get the memo about presents, she replied she would rather I spent my money on seeing shows. Just as well, then, that that’s what I do.)
‘That’s Life’, in an arrangement from the West End’s first Jenna Hunterson, Katharine McPhee, was a delight, as was a solo version of ‘So Much Better’ from Legally Blonde the Musical. The evening was recorded for an album release by the end of 2020 – to the point where the audience sat through brief reprisals post-curtain call in order for the production team to capture whatever it was they didn’t capture the first time around. So, even if you weren’t there, perhaps you’ll enjoy Jones’ version of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s ‘God Help The Outcasts’ as much as I did. Either way, this was a brilliantly varied and highly engaging evening.
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.