Saturday 14 April 2018


John Barrowman With Seth Rudetsky at Leicester Square Theatre

Leicester Square Theatre is a hidden gem in a side street just off the heart of the city's tourist centre. For stagey fans in particular this place is a spiritual home, not in the least thanks to Seth Rudetsky's Broadway shows. After intimate cabarets with legends Audra McDonald and Patti LuPone, his wonderful show is back this week with none other than West End, Broadway and TV-star John Barrowman in the hot seat.

Seth Rudetsky is perhaps lesser known here in the UK, but he's a true Broadway tour de force. He's an actor, writer, singer and radio host who in his performances and radio show focuses on his fountain of Broadway knowledge – and he's even written several of the Tony Awards opening numbers! His stagey resume is hugely impressive and so he's the perfect host for the cabarets at the Leicester Square Theatre.

On Friday night John Barrowman took the stage, opening with a powerful performance of Anything Goes, a nod back to his big West End break in 1989 in the Cole Porter musical of the same name, before sitting down next to Rudetsky to talk about his career in theatre and TV, alongside intimate insights into his personal life, from coming out as gay in the business to his heritage as a Scot. Their chat was a sheer delight to listen to. Despite the two not knowing each other very well yet there was a clear connection on stage between two people who have a love for performing in common and move in similar social circles. 

The show was a mix of songs and chit chat, both elements incredibly well-balanced moving the evening from an intimate interview to full-on concert (in which Barrowman got to belt out some of the best musical theatre songs and give us all chills) seamlessly. This was especially impressive when you realise that Rudetsky was leading the direction with unscripted interview questions and asking Barrowman to perform songs that weren't rehearsed prior. Barrowman is an incredibly versatile showman and his talent for moving from a visibly emotional performance to a funny anecdote in the beat of a heart was amazing to experience, and gave me goosebumps on several occasions.

There were so many highlights of the evening, I don't even know where to start... Mixed in with a plenty of stagey performances (including a mesmerising rendition of The Body Electric from Fame and Barrowman's rewritten version of Wicked's The Wizard and I to The Doctor and I) there was an unexpected reunion between Barrowman and his Sunset Boulevard co-star Anita Louise Combe who happened to be in the audience (I know!!) for a stunning performance of Too Much in Love to Care 25 years after they starred in the show together, and Barrowman even went all Scottish with Loch Lomond.

The interview elements of the evening were incredible too; there were some insightful stagey moments as Barrowman spoke about the start of his career, how he got his big break in Anything Goes and what working with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh is really like, but Rudetsky also took his guest on a far more personal journey. Barrowman opened up about what forced him to come out to his parents and the pain he feels when people question why he proudly identifies as Scottish and takes a stand when it comes to his home land. Against the backdrop of what is already a very intimate setting, it created a beautiful connection between audience and performers, and one I'm very grateful to have been a part of.

As a lover of all things stagey, I see a lot of shows but John Barrowman with Seth Rudetsky has been the best night I've had at the theatre all year; it was silly, moving, interesting and just extremely entertaining. There are two more performances today (Saturday 14 April) and if I wasn't already busy I would book to go again! While it would be wonderful already to experience his cabaret for a second time, its unscripted nature also means that each show is unique so even if you have seen it before you can enjoy it anew each time. It's a fantastic concept, and I'm excited to see who will join Seth Rudetsky in his shows at Leicester Square Theatre next – though it'd be very hard for any future guest to beat the electrifying charisma and sheer musical talent of John Barrowman.

John Barrowman and Seth Rudetsky have two more shows at Leicester Square Theatre today (Saturday 14 April) and a few tickets remain! Book your tickets here.

🎵 Listening to: Fame – I Sing the Body Electric
🔹 Mood: Excited


  1. Love the review--am trying to contact Seth to get his recommendations for shows to see in London the week of July 10, 2018. He mentioned on his radio show two restaurants, one of them was a Thai restaurant, but was in my car and could not write it down--something like "green leaf". Wanted to get the name correctly and have dinner there. If you have a recommendations, for shows and/or restaurants, please let me know--THANKS--Steve

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Stephen! In terms of recommendations, I've heard of Pandan Leaf and Lime Leaf but haven't been to either to recommend it. For Thai I do really like Ekachai (several locations) and Tuk Tuk on Old Compton Street (smack-down in the West End and very cheap too). In terms of show recs, I love Matilda and Book of Mormon, for 'smaller' shows also check out what's on at The Other Palace, The Arts Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and Trafalgar Studios. I wrote a post on getting cheaper theatre tickets if it's helpful too: If you like Harry Potter, also check out House of MinaLima in the city centre:

  2. Aww can't believe I didn't spot this post even earlier today, or that I had forgotten I had meant to buy a ticket to this. I would have loved to see John Barrowman live, and agree that the Leicester Square Theatre really is a hidden gem, have seen assorted things there before.

    1. Oh no, that's such a shame! I know their intention is to make this a longer running show but take it on the road, so perhaps you're able to catch it in the future.


Share Button