Willemijn Verkaik in Concert at the Cambridge Theatre
Willemijn Verkaik in Concert
Willemijn Verkaik is a Dutch actress and singer best known for playing Elphaba in 3 different languages, appearing on Broadway, West End and the Dutch and German tour. She also voiced the Dutch Elsa. With credential like this it was hard not to be excited to hear her live.
Willemijn took over the Cambridge Theatre, normally home to Matilda for the night. The concert opened slightly oddly with a frozen mash up sung by children from ‘StageBox.’ Whilst these children were clearly exceptionally talented it was an unusual way to open the show. Later on they also appeared for a bizarre Sondheim interlude. Realistically you go to see Willemijn for her and her special guests. I had hoped that Willemijn’s entry would have been as powerful as her finale.
When Willemijn did make it to stage she didn’t disappoint with Let It Go (in 3 languages) being her opening gambit. From that moment you were left in no doubt why she is widly renown as one of the (if not the) best Elphaba. Her voice was a powerhouse and soared easily over the riffs.
The set list was varied with a large dose a musical theatre, including Sondheim and Schwartz (Children of Eden as well as the obligatory Wicked) plus a Dear Evan Hansen number. However there was also some country and pop thrown in there with a George Michael medley. My highlights were the musical theatre numbers. This is probably to be expected from a musical theatre blogger but I also felt that these were the times when you really saw what her voice could do.
An unexpected treat was Willemijn’s performance of some of her own songs and my discovery is that she is actually a good songwriter, as well as singer (these multi-talented people eh!).
The special guests invited along by Willemijn were no less West End Royalty than our main attraction of the night. She was joined by Tyrone Huntley, his voice as smooth as ever in their duet. Former cast mates Suzie Mathers and Savannah Stevenson also made an appearance for a very special acapella Wicked medley and finally Phantom’s current Christine, Celinde Schoenmaker delivered I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables in beautiful harmony with Willemijn.
Willemijn came across as very down to earth in the fillers between the numbers, slightly awkward but very likeable. I would have liked to learn slightly more about her or some more about the productions she has been in, some backstage stories or other suchlike. This would have added to the concert and made it feel slightly more intimate.
There is no doubt that Willemijn is one fantastic singer and as we discovered songwriter. With some additional time spent on the chat element of the show this could have greatly improved the overall experience of the event.