Review Heart and Soul by Rhys Payne

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Having seen the first two shows in the Novello concert series I was very excited to see the third and final show. The bar was already set extremely high with the fantastic evenings of movie mixtape and night at the musicals so I was very eager to see if the performers would be able to match their own high standards but heart and souls did all this and more!

If you haven’t read one of my reviews about the Novella orchestra shows before basically, they are incredibly fun and enjoyable evening where a love orchestra is gathered on the stage and performer alongside some of the most talented singers possible. The orchestra is on the stage which really helps to bring them into the spotlight and allows the audience to really see the hard work that goes into playing for a show which oftentimes goes unnoticed! Each concert has been like a miniature party where the audience is encouraged to sing and dance along to songs they know which really helps to create an enjoyable atmosphere in the theatre. 

The show opened with an instrumental version of earth, wind and fire’s famous song September which while it was an incredibly fun song that helped leaked the audience interest (as it is a song many people know) it is a very strange show to choose to open up the entire show. As per usual the orchestra was incredible and created a wonderful sound however in this specific concert there was a lot less opportunity for the orchestra to really showcase what they could do. With the other shows, there were numerous songs that were entirely instrumental which helped the orchestra show their talents but this one really scaled back on the opportunities to do so. The lighting of this show really helped to add to the fun and party-like atmosphere of the show which really encourages the audience to join in where appropriate. The conductor of the orchestra really helped summarise the entire show when he said: “are you ready to get this party started?” As this was exactly the type of show it was. A fun, enjoyable evening of fantastic music that encourages the audience to get up and sing/dance. I was a little confused by the zig-zag line that was lit up on the backdrop of the dragging. At first, o assumed it was a symbol representing the Motown icon but after inspection, this shape was very different to this logo and so I was very confused.

To open the show we had one of the insanely talented singers namely Shaney Holmes (of most notably Rent) singing I want to dance with someone and ignoring the fact that this is one of my favourite songs, this was a much better way to start the show. This was super high energy, artfully performed song which most people knew the lyrics for which really added to the party vibe of the show. In my personal opinion, I would have swapped the instrument and this opening song to really start the show with the massive musical number it deserved. Another highlight in Holmes performance was I will always love you which was sung beautifully although I have heard this song performed at many cabaret-styles like this one (in fact Lucie Jones actually did this exact some at the last novella concert) and it is starting to become overused.

Having never heard of Marisha Wallace until today, I didn’t really know what to expect from her but oh my she was incredible. Her rendition of ” you’re going to love me” from dream girls was OUT OF THIS WORLD! To put it into perspective, I don’t think I have ever seen a song performed in the middle of act 1 that had received a stand ovation before the song had even finished and that exactly what happened for the stellar performance. Wallace clearly poured her entire ’heart and soul’ into this performance which on top of his insane vocal abilities made if a very emotional and moving rendition of an iconic song! Even the people who are familiar with her singing from shows such as waitress and even dream girls itself were blown away but this incredible performance which is the sign of a talented performer! Every song she performed then on was amazing but I constantly had the thought of this perfect song in my head through. Her renditions of “you make me feel like a natural woman” by Aretha Franklin and “I’m every woman” by Shaka Kahn were fantastic in the own regard but were overshadowed by her early performance. Really “your going to love me” would have been an amazing way to end the act or night but the placement of this song did somewhat damage the rest of her performance. However, despite this, any show which contains the iconic song “proud Mary” by Tina Turner while instantly have my heart and Marisha sang and PERFORMED this show with the power and vigour necessarily which even matched Tina’s performances of this song! Marisha is an insanely talented performer and is one to keep an eye on for future shows she is involved with, you will not be disappointed! 

What was fantastic to see that this concert gave a local dance troop the chance to perform as a part of the show. These dancers were very fun and entertaining and it was clear they enjoyed what they were doing and poured everything they had into every high energy performance. It is fantastic to see an established group such as Novella orchestra promoting young local talent as it gives them a chance to showcase their abilities as most of the time they are ignored. The final song in this concert was “dancing in their street” and while this is an iconic Motown anthem it probably wasn’t the best song choice to close the show. We had had the phenomenal performance of “you’re going to love me” , the energy of “proud Mary” among others which I think would have made a much better end to the show. “Dancing in the street” is a song visibly many people weren’t too familiar with and also fell a little flat when compared to the other amazing songs in this show.

Overall Heart and Soul was a fun and enjoyable evening that celebrated all things Motown , R & B and soul which included many songs that I am personally a fan of. Yet again the orchestra was beautiful , performers were amazing and the party atmosphere really made a unique atmosphere for the audience to revel in. I would rate this production 4 out of 5 stars and encourage everyone to keep an eye out for when the novella orchestra are in a town near you as they are not to be missed out on! 

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