For the second time in as many months, I found myself in a late-night concert and conversation with musical theatre rising star Luke Bayer. At least that’s my excuse for being brief on this occasion: it wasn’t that long ago that I put my thoughts on paper keyboard about this young man. This time around, theatre producer Paul Taylor-Mills hosted the event, called ‘Late Bites’, a two-week series of solo concerts and chats as part of MT Fest UK, a fortnight-long festival showcasing new musical theatre talent. Taylor-Mills put some context to Bayer’s career, starting at the beginning (to quote The Sound of Music, ‘a very good place to start’) with a video clip of 14-year-old Luke participating in The X-Factor. Adult Luke looking back at Teen Luke was a sight to behold.
There were five songs in amongst all the banter, beginning with the (perhaps inevitable) ‘Wall In My Head’ from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and closing up with ‘For Forever’ from Dear Evan Hansen. Many in this discernible and stagey audience had, of course, seen Luke’s online video footage of ‘Waving Through A Window’ from that show (his YouTube channel is worth a watch – there’s quite a collection of showtunes to see and hear there).
There was also ‘Rise Up’, which was introduced merely as ‘Rise Up’, without any further details, so I can’t say much more about it, except to say it’s nothing to do with the musical Hamilton, and in any case that song where the words ‘rise up’ are repeated several times is called ‘My Shot’. ‘She Used To Be Mine’, from Waitress, already a go-to subtly emotional number for many a musical theatre concert, sounded sublime being given the Luke Bayer treatment, as did ‘No Limits’, a song from a musical of the same name written by Sam Thomas.
There was also plenty to discuss, with Luke’s most salient piece of advice being to “get over yourself” and not take oneself too seriously. But like Paul, I had assumed Luke as a youngster would have been rather bashful – as I turned out, there was a side to his personality which was quite unexpected. Some years ago, his older sister’s pet hamster bit him; the rodent paid the price, to put it politely. As Paul pointed out, Luke oozes positivity. My thanks to MT Fest UK for allowing me to attend free of charge, to Paul and Luke for being so lovely, and to Perry O’Bree for being such great company.
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.