Live at Zedel, London
The early evening Saturday slot at Live At Zedel saw a full house enjoy Emma Kingston’s solo cabaret debut. Known within the industry and to her growing fan base as a powerhouse performer with a stunning voice, Kingston delighted for a non-stop hour in a set list that spanned the decades.
Accompanied by MD Freddie Tapner on piano, the song choices drew mainly from Kingston’s personal favourites rather than her career and not surprisingly the anecdotes with which she confidently peppered her routine were drawn mostly from loving family experience. Her brief tale however of being asked, at a moment’s notice, to provide emergency cover to In The Heights, nearly two years after she’d last played the show, hinted at this talented woman’s already impressive career.
There was an evident love for Streisand with the famous singer’s work popping up several times in the hour. Funny Girl’s People was gorgeous, while for an encore the audience were offered Piece Of Sky from Yentl, with Kingston making the number a glorious finale.
Vocally magnificent throughout. Kingston’s is a voice of amazing power combined with her pitch perfect ability to hold a note forever. But majestic strength does not always equal dramatic presence. As she offered up a beautifully sung take on The Man That Got Away, perhaps one of the most poignant torch songs ever, it was noticeable that for that song to really work it needs to be sung (much) later than 7pm, and ideally by a weathered chanteuse with perhaps a few more miles on the clock than the disarmingly youthful Kingston. In an enchanting nod to her age and heritage however, Kingston (along with the talented Tapner) had put together a well woven medley of Disney numbers that, amongst others, saw Ariel segue into Pocahontas segue into Elsa.
One of the gig’s sweetest spots was hearing a perfectly nuanced She Used To Be Mine from Waitress. Kingston’s take on Sara Bareilles’ ballad was flawless and casting directors should be taking note of this contender for the role of Jenna, should the show ever cross the pond.
Notably absent from the evening were anything from Fiddler (where Kingston had played an exceptional Hodel at Chichester last year) nor from Les Miserables, where she had served an lengthy stint. Next time perhaps....
Emma Kingston’s career has been outstanding to date - and as this review is published she has already arrived in Taiwan, returning to the role of Eva Peron (a casting personally approved by Andrew Lloyd Webber) in an international tour of Evita. Singing only one song from that show Kingston treated us to You Must Love Me. Hers was a powerful, beautiful interpretation proving why she is one of the finest performers of her generation.