The Greatest Love of All, 3 Stars

The Greatest Love of All
London Palladium
Sunday 19th May 2019

“The Greatest Love of All, a critically acclaimed live concert honouring the talent, music and memory of Whitney Houston featuring the breathtaking vocals of Belinda Davids accompanied by the sensational
National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, is a beautifully crafted homage to one of the world’s most revered singers.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars

If it wasn’t bad enough that every regional theatre in the UK hosts a tribute band tour and this is commercially successful, our greatest West End Theatre, the London Palladium, has now succumbed and here you have it – a Whitney Houston Tribute Spectacular on a grand scale starring Belinda Davids. Who? a TVwinner from the BBC’s “Even better than the real thing”. What? No idea, sorry.

Billed as “a heartfelt musical journey through Whitney Houston’s greatest hits” it’s a sell-out audience pleaser!

The Music is incredible, the singing is outstanding, the lighting is “pop concert” – so if there are 1000 lights spinning around and only 1 (which is a Follow Spot) on the Star, why does she have to look down or close her eyes for the majority of the performance. All the lights are behind, there’s nothing out front, so don’t pretend you’re blinded by the light! Yes the voice is superb, but walking through the incredible songs is just not good enough.

And then there was a lot of fiddling with the foldback speaker in her inner ear. Every song needed an ear fiddle. Like a nervous tick. We could all hear the Singing just fine – the Sound out front was great! But all that fiddling, so distracting, trust the Sound Engineer. He’s way more experienced than the Singer!

The choreography is ok but the 4 dancers have no unison. Perhaps they learnt it all remotely from the choreographer via What’sApp or something? The Orchestra are great – it’s the National Philharmonic! The venue is the top UK venue only normally graced by the best of the best, and yet here we have a Whitney Houston tribute act who does not have the star quality you’d expect to see in a show of this budget and stature. There are many Whitney Houston Tribute Acts – and some, like Ashlie Amber-Harris are phonomenal, and frankly are so much better!

And what was the Director thinking taking “Whitney” off-stage before the end of many musical songs so she could do a costume change. NO NO NO – that’s not how you do it! The diva MUST sing the final crescendos downstage and centre in proper lighting that matches the blocking, there’s a photo finish moment in silhouette, then the Blackout! That’s how you do it! Not an empty stage for the final big build singing section!

Vamping by the orchestra, which builds into the next number, would normally cover the costume changes. You change between the numbers, not during the final crescendos!!! Wow! Dreadful!

And what on earth was the Video doing? Dear me, stock MA Video content which has no connection to the music or lyrics whatsoever? Electric globes flying through Borg tunnels? Ridiculously atrocious! Even high school drama clubs do better than this using only powerpoint projections!

Belinda Davids did get more confident in the 2nd half and walked amongst the stalls audience like the coming of the Messiah. Very few people could see her or knew what was going on but again I blame the Director for this distraction to an otherwise lovely song that could have been staged on-stage and beautifully lit.

The audience loved it, they clapped and sung along. But they did not scream with delight – cos the show isn’t quite good enough – but they did love it and were on their feet singing and dancing.

A huge budget show – but oh dear,one that should and could be so much better!

Bring in a singer with more zip and star quality, bring in a better video designer, change the Director so it has some pizzazz and theatricality and you’ll have the fantastic show this deserves to be!

But then, you don’t have to bother too much, why would you – it’s Whitney’s music, the audience love it, you’ll sell out, and you’ll make lots of money. Why bother trying to be “The Greatest Show Of All”?

Further Information

The Greatest Love of All
The London Palladium
Argyll Street
Sunday 19 May
at 7.30pm
Age restriction 16+

Directed by Johnny Van Grinsven
Produced by Derek Nicol & Paul Walden for
Flying Entertainment and Showtime Australia
Promo Trailer:
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