The Royal Albert Hall was presented in all its glory, decorated with turquoise and blue lighting and with velvet banners emblazoned with the words “BBC Proms” and the Royal Albert Hall's emblem in gold against a striking red background. Virtually every seat was occupied and the standing area was filling up rapidly, there was a buzz of conversation that died down immediately the lights dimmed.
Accompanied by a huge applause, the orchestra started to play the introduction which we all know and love and, greeted with a standing ovation, our star Michael appeared onstage in a smart black suit and tie and proclaimed “This is the 58 th Prom, and it's all mine!”
The Prom got off to a great start, with “This is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde closely followed by the almighty “Don't Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl. Then a rather camp Gilbert & Sullivan number “Am I Alone/If You're Anxious for to Shine” from Patience, and a marvellous Kismet Medley comprising of “Stranger in Paradise” and “And This is My Beloved”, Michael joked “I didn't get to sing either of them because they were sung by the juvenile leads!”
We were then introduced to, in my case, a new face, Alfie Boe. Alfie and Michael sang a duet from Les pêcheurs de Perles by Bizet called “Au fond du temple saint”. Michael then took a seat and left Alfie to sing the wonderfully emotional “Torna a Surriento”. After a dazzling performance from Alfie, and a particularly enthusiastic applause, we had a blast from the past with “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” from Godspell, which was, of course, the first show Michael appeared in, followed by the breathtaking “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar.
Back after the interval, Michael had changed from his black suit into even smarter evening dress, complete with bowtie and cummerbund, and flew into the next songs, “As If We Never Said Goodbye” and “Sunset Boulevard” from the fabulous Sunset Boulevard. Then we were treated to the song “Anthem” from the musical Chess.
Michael then went on to talk about Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Stephen Sondheim, and how they both asked him who he preferred, or who was nicer? In the company of a ripple of laughter from the audience, he said that he couldn't possibly choose, and went on to sing “All I Ask of You” from Andrew's Phantom of the Opera and “Loving You” from Stephen's Passion, I must say I couldn't choose between either of the songs myself!
“Something's Coming” from West Side Story was the next song, sung wholeheartedly and perfectly, right to the last note. But it wouldn't have been right without the next song, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” abbreviated, unduly, to “Empty Chairs” in the programme, from the magnificent Les Misérables. After a poignant recital of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” Michael described how he and his colleagues had received quite a lot of criticism from people claiming that his was not a proper Prom, but he didn't care he went into sing one of the most controversial songs of the whole performance, Queen's “The Show must Go On”.
After a colossal applause we were introduced to another guest, the lovely Laura Michelle Kelly, she and Michael sang a duet called “The Prayer” from The Quest for Camelot, the only complaint I have for her was that I would have loved her to sing a solo, but the whole thing was pushed for time so I suppose it was unavoidable.
The backing singers had a major part in the next song, “Let the Rivers Run” (From Working Girl) which was sung very well with a lot of feeling, you could tell it was nearing the end of the performance, so Michael went into the last song of the evening, “Music”. With tremendous violin-playing from Izzy Johnston the music was simply superb, even Michael had a go and revealed an unknown talent for timpani playing! The song seemed to flow through every nerve-ending of every person present, but there was one question on everyone's lips, “Where's Love Changes Everything?” But Michael didn't disappoint! After leaving the stage once he returned with the immortal words; “BBC said we had to be finished by ten… Am I Bovvered?!” He even invited the audience to join in! Most people obliged, even if they obliged quietly, but the audience made up for the hush with a roof-raising applause and another standing ovation! The applause went on for at least three minutes and for a very good reason, it was truly the cat's whiskers, with outstanding performances from Alfie Boe, Laura Michelle Kelly and Izzy Johnston, tremendous conducting from Callum McLeod and of course a simply spectacular performance from the one and only Michael Ball!
You can hear the whole show on Podcast here but only until Monday the 3rd of September!
John Miles/Queen, arranged by Martin Williams Overture
Frank Wildhorn/Leslie Bricusse Jekyll & Hyde – This Is the Moment
Jule Styne/Bob Merrill Funny Girl – Don't Rain On My Parade
Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley, adapted by Martin Williams The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd – Feeling Good
Gilbert & Sullivan Patience – Am I Alone/If You're Anxious for To Shine
Borodin/Robert Wright/George Forrest, orch. Richard Balcombe Kismet – Stranger in Paradise/And This Is My Beloved (Medley)
Bizet Les pêcheurs de perles - Au fond du temple saint Duet with Alfie Boe
Ernesto and Giambattista de Curtis – Torna a Surriento Alfie Boe
Stephen Schwartz Godspell – Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord
Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice Jesus Christ Superstar – Gethsemane
Interval: 20 Minutes
Andrew Lloyd Webber/Don Black/Christopher Hampton, arr. & orch. Martin Yates Sunset Boulevard – Suite; As If We Never Said Goodbye; Sunset Boulevard
Benny Anderson/Björn Ulvaeus/Tim Rice Chess – Anthem
Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart/Richard Stilgoe The Phantom of the Opera – All I Ask of You/ Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine Passion- Loving you
Leonard Bernstein/Arthur Laurents West Side – Something's Coming
Claude-Michel Schönberg/Alain Boubil /Herbert Kretzmer Les Misérables – Empty Chairs a t Empty Tables
Queen The Show Must Go On
Carole Bayer Sager/David Foster, orch. Richard Balcombe The Prayer (From The Quest for Camelot) Duet with Laura Michelle Kelly
Carly Simon Let the Rivers Run (From Working Girl)
John Miles, orch. Richard Balcombe Music Izzy Johnston on violin
Music preparation by Callum McLeod and Roger Williams