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"CALLING ALL DIVAS" - Review: Sue Cullen

Calling All Divas at the Pheasantry in Chelsea’s Kings Road raised over £500 for the Alzheimer's Society

The programme got off to an impressive start with the Sondheim ensemble Opening Doors [Merrily We Roll Along] and throughout the evening the company singing was of a consistently high standard.

Spearheaded by Central alumna Bella Barlow, who shouldered the lion’s share of the programme, we were swept along with this wave of youthful exuberance and burgeoning talent. The musical reins were in the very capable hands of MD/ pianist Robert Rayner and bassist Jamie Wilkins.

Bella Barlow is a diva with a mission – to entertain! A gloriously statuesque creature with an engaging delivery and a multi-faceted talent to amuse and entertain -:- Her homage to Victoria Wood [Let’s Do it] amply demonstrated her versatility , while the soul searching duet from Rent , Take Me or Leave Me, showcased her musical theatre style vocals and spotlighted the impressive fellow alumna Emma Ralston. This pocket dynamo comfortably spans the whole gamut of musical theatre, with an easy access into the legit range of the high soprano. At the other extreme, the Rossini “cat duet” was a light-hearted moment that left us wanting to hear more of the sultry soprano Carly Buchanan, also a Central graduate.

The strong RCSSD team were completed by James Irving [fabulous voice and a latent acting talent to watch out for!]. The company of alumnae was augmented by Calum Melville [ his engaging patter style delivery shows him to be a natural for the Gilbert and Sullivan revivals and Broadway character roles], whilst Matthew Ronchetti cornered the young, vulnerable and sensitive end of the market.

Too many good things to detail here in this mixed programme with something for everyone. I would love to see this show developed and given a life – and maybe somewhere in the future, a comedy role for la diva herself. Bravo to all!

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