Regional Reviews: Phoenix
The Barricade Boys
Also see Gil's recent review of The Seafarer
The Barricade Boys are four men who previously appeared in Les Misérables, either in the West End production, on tour or in concert in the UK, or in the film version. The talented men all have clear and gorgeous singing voices and their concert featured solos and showtunes plus medleys of songs from ABBA, Motown and rock, and several Les Mis songs, along with a simply fantastic version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" that was one of many highlights of the evening.
The group was formed in 2015 by Scott Garnham and Simon Schofield who had the idea to create a concert experience that combines musical theatre, rock, and pop songs performed by individuals who've all appeared in Les Misérables. The group has had different combinations of members over the years and for the Arizona Musicfest concert Garnham and Schofield were joined by Kieran Brown and Craig Mather, the other two original group members, to form the quartet. While Garnham and Schofield may deliver a little more of the audience patter, the concert at Arizona Musicfest proved to be an almost entirely ensemble affair, although each of the four did also get a chance to shine brightly in solo spots.
Highlights in the show included the previously mentioned medleys that included several upbeat tunes from Motown, ABBA, the Four Seasons, and a fantastic one that focused solely on British rockers. There was also a polished pairing of "Tonight" and "Somewhere" from West Side Story, and a soaring version of "Defying Gravity" from Wicked. An enthusiastic "The Greatest Show" from The Greatest Showman opened the second half.
But these are The Barricade Boys after all, so it's understandable that four selections from Les Misérables were some of the evening's best, including a gorgeous version of "I Dreamed a Dream" that opened the show, a spectacular "Bring Him Home," and a superb "One Day More" that closed the show. All three of those numbers featured impeccable harmonies that beautifully captured the emotion of Les Misérables with both "Bring Him Home" and "One Day More" two of the most glorious moments I've experienced in a concert in the past decade.
The fourth Les Misérables number was a gorgeous solo of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" that Mather sang, accompanying himself on guitar for the first portion of the number. Mather played Marius in the West End production for more than 1,000 performances and his version of the song was superb. Other solos included Garnham's beautiful and rich performance of "Evermore" from the Beauty and the Beast film and Schofield showing off his expert tap dancing on "Putting on the Ritz." Brown's deep resonating singing voice soared to the rafters on "The Music of the Night" from The Phantom of the Opera. Brown played the Phantom on the West End for two years and his phrasing, diction, and vocal prowess on this song received a well-deserved standing ovation.
Under the skilled guidance of musical director and pianist James Doughty, who oversaw the tight seven-piece band, and with exceptional choreography by Liam Steel that provided ever-changing stage imagery throughout, the entire evening was a well-polished spectacle of song and dance. There were also projections that incorporated video elements with archival photos and logos from the shows to provide an additional layer of theatricality to the show. Once again, I was reminded of how clear the acoustics are at the Highlands Church where the majority of the Arizona Musicfest concerts are held. Every note, lyric, and word was crystal clear.
The Barricade Boys' Arizona Musicfest concert was a charming, humorous, moving, and entirely entertaining evening filled with slick, soaring harmonies and non-stop energetic and electric performances from four of the West End's most talented members of Les Misérables.
The Barricade Boys performed on Friday January 12, 2024, at Arizona Musicfest, Highlands Church, 9050 E Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale AZ. Information for upcoming Arizona Musicfest concerts can be found at www.azmusicfest.org. For more information on The Barricade Boys, visit barricadeboys.com