Colm Wilkinson’s Broadway & Beyond Tour
Colm Wilkinson is perhaps best known as the voice behind the mask in The Phantom of the Opera and as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. But in his Broadway & Beyond tour, he reveals a range that will surprise and delight you.
Beginning his career in his native Ireland in the 1970’s, Wilkinson has become an internationally recognized vocalist. Today, his eclectic selection of music is as wide as his vocal range. He performs everything from folk to pop to country to rock, and samples just about all of it for this tour. He’s also a fair guitar player, as he demonstrates in this show.
For his Broadway & Beyond tour, Wilkinson starts with Music of the Night from Phantom, goes on to perform a variety of his better–and lesser–known hits; some Irish drinking songs; a few numbers from other artists including Ray Charles, Leonard Cohen, Muddy Waters, and John Lennon; some of his own original compositions; and finishes up with Bring Him Home from Les Mis.
The show ran about two hours, not including a twenty minute intermission. It seemed shorter, such is Wilkinson’s talent for keeping an audience enthralled. More than once Wilkinson remarked that the night was young, but he wasn’t. Considering the strain his dynamic style must put on his voice, and his age–63, although he wears it well–the length was just about right.
There was no opening act. Quite frankly, there didn’t need to be. Everyone was there to see Colm Wilkinson and there was no reason to keep them waiting.
Performing with Wilkinson were two well-known singers in their own right: Tony Award winning Gretha Boston, and Susan Gilmour who also performed with Wilkinson in Les Misérables. At times they sang backup for Wilkinson, but they also performed duets and solos. Their voices, while different from each other, were nevertheless complimentary and added a nice touch to the evening, in addition to giving Wilkinson’s voice a rest between songs.
Leading the backup band was pianist and musical director Steve Hunter. The rest of the band included a base, electric base, electric guitar, cello, drums, organ, and a fellow playing multiple wind instruments. All of them were superb, and each had an opportunity to show off their talents.
Despite the excellence of the musical performance, the highlight of the show was really Wilkinson’s playful banter with the audience and the stories he told between songs. Like his account of the time he was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center Honors and had to ask, “What’s that?” Or his explanation for the variations on the song Danny Boy.
The only real weakness of this performance seems to be the choice of numbers. One member of the group we were with commented beforehand that she hoped he did his older work, since she preferred it to the songs on his latest album. While he did perform some of his older, better known hits from Phantom and Les Mis, there wasn’t enough.
Our seats, mid-way from the front on the orchestra level, ran about $85 CDN. The range at other venues seems to be from $60 to $90. Whether you feel this is worth it or not depends, naturally, on your taste. The audience we were a part of certainly seemed satisfied. They gave Wilkinson a warm standing ovation at the end and after each of his three encores.
The Broadway & Beyond tour is, at this point, strictly Canadian. It began in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 6th, 2007, and after hitting Vancouver, British Columbia on November 9th, will bounce back to wrap up on November 11th in Regina, Saskatchewan. However, given that Wilkinson holds international fame, it’s likely you’ll find this tour or another in a country near you before too long.
Colm Wilkinson is a true virtuoso, a talented performer with a stunning range and an engaging personality. He demonstrates both in Broadway & Beyond.
Get Colm’s Broadway and Beyond the Concert Songs from Amazon.