“You are enough. You are SO enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.” Sierra Boggess’ core fanbase have, presumably, heard that enough (so to speak) times to be able to say it with her. Oh, and she’s been in Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals on multiple occasions, so naturally her London concert at Cadogan Hall was going to feature some songs from his shows (irrespective of who they were ‘really’ composed by). I’ve made Boggess sound like a seriously soppy and sentimental sort of person, which she did tend to veer towards at times, but I found her to be down to earth and very, very friendly.
She has the sort of personality that is easy to warm to, telling her stories compellingly, and reacting accordingly dependent on the audience response. Some people think standing ovations are all too generously given these days – this one, or large parts of it anyway, rose to their feet at the interval as well as at the close, and given the sheer versatility and breadth of music presented to the audience over a couple of hours or so, I thought it was justified.
According to someone on Twitter (I know, I know) someone left at the interval because they were unhappy with Boggess talking about the political situation in the United States. But she only did so in very general terms and didn’t namedrop any particular politicians or specific policies. There was certainly no “impeach now!” ranting, or any other kind of tirade, and so it’s the audience member’s loss. It is not unfair to disagree with Boggess’ views, but it is unfair to believe she should not speak her mind.
And her mind is highly positive, almost overwhelmingly so, at least to a cynical Brit who is used to sarcasm and snide remarks. While the show was never rushed, Boggess could cover a lot of ground in a single song – one of her selections from The Phantom of the Opera encompassed a ‘Phantom in Vegas’ verse (awful but deliberately so, and hugely entertaining), a section in French (because she was invited to play Christine in a Paris production, which never actually opened because a fire engulfed the Théâtre Mogador, damaging the set) and a final section in what Boggess called “the Queen’s English”.
Speaking of HM The Queen, Boggess was also invited to a private function at Sydmonton Court in Hampshire, a 5000 acre estate owned by Lloyd Webber. The event was part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and Boggess’ recollection of the evening was interspersed with verses from ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’ from Sweet Charity.
The second half opened with ‘Stars’ from Les Misérables – though she played Fantine in the hit musical, ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ was probably too depressing for a positivity-themed concert (“Now life has killed the dream I dreamed” wouldn’t fit her worldview). She did the Javert number justice – and then some, and while Love Never Dies isn’t exactly top of the list of Lloyd Webber shows I’d like to see again, her rendering of the title number was nothing short of sublime.
Musical director Brian Hertz glided through the varied numbers seemingly effortlessly, as did the rest of the (rather small) orchestra, which included Boggess’ sister Summer, on cello. I can’t usually abide the mawkish ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ but again, Boggess’ way of singing it was pleasing to the ears. There was also an ode to Barbra Streisand, in which Boggess almost did Streisand better than Streisand does Streisand, nailing her mannerisms and facial expressions.
Tunes from The Little Mermaid and The Secret Garden also featured, and such was the warmth and love that emanated from this Broadway and West End performer that one would have to have a heart of stone not to have been moved and encouraged in some way. An angel of music indeed.
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.