Review: ‘Fast becoming a renowned jazz virtuoso’ ★★★★★ Emma Hatton, Pizza Express Live

Although best known for her leading roles in the West End, Emma Hatton started her musical journey as a jazz singer and it’s with jazz and blues music that she admits to being most at home performing.

And in her latest solo show – at the new Pizza Express live in Holborn – the songstress performed a wonderfully mixed programme of jazz, blues and even some rock, but with the odd show tune also mixed in to ensure her musical theatre fans were content.

Emma Hatton has just finished playing the iconic role of Eva Peron in the West End production of Evita, but is perhaps best known for portraying the green witch Elphaba in the musical phenomenon Wicked.

But despite being an acclaimed leading lady, you’ll be struck by how grounded and humble Emma is, something which came across as she talked about the songs she was singing and the reasons for choosing them.

The new Pizza Express Live has a much better set up than the other two I have visited in Chelsea and Soho, with the staging area much more central, allowing for a better view for those in attendance. The four-piece band – led by MD Sean Green – comfortably filled the performance area and provided an extremely good quality sound throughout, taking their moments to shine, but never overpowering Emma’s vocals.

After starting with a rousing version of James Bay’s “If You Ever Wanna Be in Love”, followed by a gorgeous interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet”, Emma performed a truly magnificent rendition of Imelda May’s “Black Tears”; her powerful vocals fitting the soaring melody to perfection.

Other act one highlights included a tribute to the late Glen Campbell – with a wonderful version of the country classic “Wichita Lineman” – and a couple by Sara Bareilles, with “City” (and some amazing riffs!) and “I Didn’t Plan It” from the musical Waitress.

Act two had a much more chilled vibe going on and after the James Bond theme “License to Kill” – originally performed by Gladys Knight – the audience was treated to a great version of “Hey Laura” by one of Emma’s more modern influences, Gregory Porter.

The singer really showed her versatility by seamlessly switching from one style to another and with her slight West Country twang, chatted about her teenage obsession with Macaulay Culkin before performing The Temptations classic “My Girl”.

Heading back into musical theatre, Emma then performed an emotive and extremely potent rendition of “Burn” from the new American musical Hamilton, before finishing the show with the upbeat crowd-pleaser “You Got It” by Roy Orbison.

The real highlight was left for the encore however, when the band whipped up a storm and Emma belted out the Prince anthem “Purple Rain”, leaving the audience in raptures.

Emma Hatton is a real star of the stage, but with her solo cabaret performances is also fast becoming a renowned jazz virtuoso.

After the huge success of the number 1 Christmas collaboration with Anthony Strong Merry Christmas Darling, the pair will join forces again to release a new EP later this year and you’ll be able to see them perform together at Christmas in Leicester Square on 14 December. 

 

Photo by Troy David Johnston

 

 

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West End leading lady Emma Hatton takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

From starring in We Will Rock You to Evita, with Wicked along the way, Emma Hatton has cemented her position as one of the most sought after West End leading ladies in recent years.

But the ultra talented performer is also an acclaimed jazz singer and will be showcasing her sultry vocals at the Pizza Express Live in Birmingham and at the newly opened venue in Holborn later this year.

Emma is currently playing Eva Peron in Evita at the Phoenix Theatre and took some time off to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

My set list for my Pizza Express jazz gigs in October.

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

Support from my friends and family.

What is your favourite Book?

Little Women.

What are you currently watching on TV? 

The Affair.

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Restaurant, I love food.

What’s your favourite sweet? 

The Strawbs from Candyking, but they’ve changed the ingredients so they’re not so nice anymore.

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

A window cleaner or a jockey.

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I bit my sister.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

I would probably say being moved up from standby to fulltime Elphaba.

What’s next? 

I’ve got my gigs at the Pizza Express on October 21st and 22nd.

Emma Hatton will be performing at Pizza Express Live Birmingham on 21 October 8:30pm and Pizza Express Live Holborn on 22 October 8pm. https://www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/emma-hatton

Review: ‘As good as it gets’ ★★★★ Evita, Phoenix Theatre

Society has long been fascinated with the wives of powerful men. From Lady Diana to Michelle Obama and now the Duchess of Cambridge, the beguilement continues. But it all started with a very special First Lady back in the late 1940s. Eva Peron was an iconic figure that rose from poverty to become half of a political powerhouse in Argentina before suffering an untimely demise at the age of just 33.

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The icon’s life was turned into a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1978 (the last musical the pair worked on together) and is seen by many as their greatest work.

Personally, I have always found the show a bit bland, with the discordant nature of the score and the reliance on the big song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (with continuous repeats of the hook) making the rest of the production anticlimactic.

That said; I always go to see a new production with an open mind and the revival – which first toured the UK before settling into the newly vacated Phoenix Theatre in the West End – has given me a little extra love for the classic musical.

That is mostly down to the leading lady Emma Hatton’s quite wonderful performance. Hatton is no stranger to big singing shows – having recently finished playing Elphaba in Wicked – and although some of the songs in act one fail to showcase her powerful belt, when act two begins, you know you’re in for a display of vocal virtuosity.

She slightly overshadows her costar, Gian Marco Schiaretti, with her stagecraft – although not in stature as he cuts a majestic figure. Schiaretti struggles to come to terms with the depth of Che’s character and his historical significance. Nevertheless it is an extremely charismatic portrayal and he does a great job of lifting songs like “Rainbow Tour” and “Goodnight and Thank You” out from under the continuous onslaught of the monster tune.

The other real surprising highlight – as you don’t think of Evita as a dance show – is Bill Deamer’s choreography, which is both intricate and interesting and adds fervor to the limited number of ensemble numbers.

Evita is a show that is a must see for musical fans – purely for its significance to modern theatre – and this production is as good as it gets.

Evita is running at the Phoenix Theatre until 14 October 

Photos by Pamela Raith Photography