21 September 2016
Reviewed by Louise Watts
“Let’s go and see Lesley Garrett” said my mother. “Ok” I replied rather uncertain that it was my kind of music, but I knew my mother enjoyed classical and opera singing and performance so I agreed as it meant an evening out with my Mum.
We left home with plenty of time to get to the theatre. Well, we would have if there wasn’t congestion on the motorway and if I had looked at the fuel gauge earlier in the day! We arrived at the theatre 2 minutes before the performance was due to start… to say I was feeling under stress would only begin to start describing my mindset as we took our seats. All this stress for an evening I wasn’t even sure I would enjoy!
All of a sudden, I heard the most amazing voice… I had heard of Lesley Garrett and had seen her on the TV a few times, namely on Loose Women, but nothing prepared me for the most beautiful soprano voice I have ever heard! All of a sudden, I could feel the stresses and strains of my early evening leaving my body and being replaced by this incredible feeling of calm and relaxation.
The performance took the form of Lesley singing various songs from her musical career and was interspersed with an “interview” style chat with her interviewer called Bill. It was so interesting to hear stories from Lesley’s past, from stories of her childhood to how she met her husband… I am always keen to learn more about famous performers so they become more than just a voice.
Lesley was accompanied by the wonderful Anna playing on the most beautiful Steinway grand piano. Unfortunately, I do not know Anna’s surname which is a shame as I would like to have given her the credit she deserves. She was truly outstanding on the piano and you could tell that her and Lesley have a “connection” with both looking for each other’s cues during their performances. I was also very touched and pleased that at the end of the show in Lesley’s final performance when Anna played the most beautiful piano solo, Lesley stepped out of the spot light and turned to Anna allowing her to take full credit. An incredible demonstration of teamwork and mutual professional respect.
During the whole performance, I was impressed by Lesley’s range of singing including classical, opera and musicals. My favourite was her medley of songs from The Sound of Music, particularly “Climb Every Mountain” which left me with goose bumps. Not only was the range of singing wonderful, I was equally impressed with the clarity of Lesley’s diction. I could hear every word!
Then came some audience participation where we were given the opportunity to ask Lesley some questions. She took the time to listen to what the audience were asking and answered in a very thorough manner. It was clear that she was very interested in her audience and there was absolutely no feeling of her rushing any answers of not giving the audience the time they wanted. What came through more than ever was her wonderful sense of humour and her down to earthiness. When one girl asked about some advice for auditions, Lesley embraced her concerns and answered in great depth.
The only part of the evening that I felt slight disappointment with was the fact that the theatre was only half full. I felt that this was a real shame and didn’t show Lesley the support and respect that her performance deserved. The people that were there however were truly in awe of her and you could tell this by the conversations that were taking place in the interval and after the show.
All I have to do now is say “Thanks” to my Mum for suggesting that we went to begin with as I had an absolutely lovely evening!
The venue was lovely also. I always enjoy my trips to Tunbridge Wells theatre as the facilities are lovely, the staff are always polite and courteous and parking is easy and cheap (£1). I was not disappointed on this visit. Despite being later than I would have liked, parking was not a problem and all the staff were a pleasure to have contact with. We had a glass of wine each in the interval and paid just over £9 and all the facilities were of the usual high standard of cleanliness. Another pleasant evening at the Assembly Hall Theatre.
An Audience With Lesley Garrett is currently on tour around the UK, for more information visit www.lesleygarrett.co.uk/news.php
For other shows at the Assembly Hall Theatre visit www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk.
Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LU | 01892 530613