IDRISS KARGBO: SINGING AT THE SHAW | London, Shaw Theatre

A standing ovation at this absolute love-in for the musical theatre star (Wicked, The Lion King, Shrek The Musical, Thriller: Live!, Five Guys Named Moe). Playing to a small home crowd of fellow musical theatre professionals, Kargbo, backing singers (Lucy Carne, Veronica Nolasco), a three-piece band (Benjamin Keys, Martin Stephens, Stefan Brown), and other BAME guest stars, all raised the roof with his tribute to gospel, pop hits, his “CV”, and Queen B herself.

With a nod to his current West End engagement, Wicked (Sunday is his only night off), Kargbo offered an interesting, jazzy “Defying Gravity”, startlingly reharmonised by pianist Benjamin Keys. But Kargbo is just at home delivering crowd-pleasing covers like “Uptown Funk” and “Irreplaceable”, both featuring his incredible, hyper-energetic dance moves.

With guest Joshua Liburd, Kargbo turned “Go Back Home” from The Scottsboro Boys into a charming duet, doing the same with guest star Tyrone Huntley for “Home” from The Wiz.  With Claudia Kariuki, their duet of “Patience” from Dreamgirls brought the house down. “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, from Five Guys Named Moe, featured a very impressive close harmony quartet made up of Kargbo and guests Omari Douglas, Adrian Hansel, and Nathaniel Morrison.

It was unfortunate and bizarre that tuning problems should dog the evening’s programme, from such a hugely accomplished singer. Presumably, this was down to some poor sound tech and bad on-stage mixing, since there were also various problems with microphones throughout the concert. Not that it really matters; everyone in attendance was so delighted to get to see their favourite pint-sized star get to own the stage for a short but sweet moment.

You can follow Idriss Kargbo on Instagram and Twitter.

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