Musical & more – English Version
Hückelhoven is a small sleepy town with just over 10,000 inhabitants in the city centre and a mining tradition, situated in western Germany between Aachen, Düsseldorf and Cologne. In the local grammar school you find an auditorium as in almost every school – at least that’s what you might think. A closer look reveals a facility with up to 738 seats which, together with the spacious and entertaining foyer, offers a pleasant ambience for larger cultural events such as concerts or theatre performances.
On the evening of 16 March 2019, the rather quiet and usually calm place is swarming with people, the school is like a hive of bees. Full of expectations, not only do many local visitors gather into the foyer of the almost sold-out house, but due to the license plates on the cars there are also audience members from further away. They are all waiting spellbound to listen to the 20th concert “Musical & more”, presented by the local event management KulturPur. The meanwhile traditional show is advertised “as the only one in Germany in which the visitors are offered a mix of current and classical musical songs as well as world hits from the rock and pop genre”, and so the excitement at least of those who are there for the first time grows with every minute.
As in every year, the organizer offers four top stars of the European musical scene, Sanne Mieloo and Amber Schoop from the Netherlands and Nigel Casey (who is currently living in Cologne) and Rob Fowler from Great Britain. In their more than two-hour program these four are accompanied by the “Musical & more” band and the “Chicken Divine” in the backings.
The rows of chairs in the auditorium offer a good view of the high stage, in the stalls as well as in the circle. The sound and the lighting in this appealing, but rather bare hall leave nothing to be desired. All seats are quickly taken shortly before the performance begins, before the singers enter the stage with their first song “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”, coupled with “Africa” by Toto. With this entry the already mentioned announcement to perform well-known Rock and Pop Songs mixed with Musical melodies is confirmed for the first time.
The presentation is taken over by the performers themselves throughout the evening. And sadly, right at the beginning Rob Fowler regretfully points out that this will be the final concert of this kind. This announcement causes a little drop of bitterness among the lovers and loyal visitors of the concert format. Even the singers are also clearly moved by this announcement, as some of them have been in the cast every year for a long time.
After this announcement the show starts with Rob Fowler’s first solo song “Dies ist die Stunde” from “Jekyll & Hyde” – the only German song in the show. After this starting signal Nigel Casey follows on roller skates with the still popular “Starlight Express”, before the cast bridges the gap from musicals and musical films up to pop and rock.
The artists answer the question what they love so much about this format, very clearly with the statement that they always compose the song sequence together and that each of them is allowed to perform the songs that are close to their hearts.
“Never enough” from “The Greatest Showman” by Sanne Mieloo sung for the first time in public or “Home”, written by Michael Buble and performed by Nigel Casey, are just as much touching as Guns’n’Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ mine” performed by Amber Schoop. Whether Elvis, Queen, Abba, Whitney Houston or Tina Turner – the singers manage to create the mood just as well as they advance the program from calm to fast, from soft to rhythmic and from quiet to loud. The singers also provide something for the laughing muscles. There is a lot of humor on stage when the two Ladies are slipping into the infamous Abba Plateau boots in front of the audience.
After a well-deserved break, everyone is in the best mood and returns to their seats to watch the musical fireworks continue. Hardly anyone is still sitting, many people in the audience support the performers with singing or dancing along. It gets emotional once again when Rob Sure, the band’s guitarist tonight, makes his way through the audience with his guitar and takes a seat on the stage. Even those who haven’t seen “A Star is Born” yet, can hold back their emotions when Sure performs the emotional and expressive song “Shallow” together with Mieloo.
One highlight follows the next, before the secret of the fifth artist of the night is finally revealed. Sharon Sexton, who was part of the original cast of the successful musical “Bat out of Hell” alongside Rob Fowler in the roles of Sloane and Falco, is a surprise guest. With their truly emotional duet “What Part of my Body hurts the most” from the musical, written by Jim Steinman, they caused goosebumps.
Not only the stars of the evening are taking the stage, also the three fantastic background singers get the opportunity to show their talent. With “No Frontiers” by The Corrs and “You shook me all night long” by AC/DC in a Diva’s version, the Chicken Divine prove their skills impressively.
The evening’s finale is once again performed by all of them together. And again it’s obvious that this format has not only given them a lot of pleasure, but also that it is very hard for them to say goodbye once and for all. Frenetically acclaimed and celebrated with standing ovations, the encore lasts much longer than expected. Nevertheless, at some point, even though felt still too early, the last note fades away and a very special and unique other evening comes to an end. Now the fans and the singers are eagerly waiting for the new ideas of KulturPur to continue to expand its status in the region within the following years.
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(Fotos: Astrid Mohren)