Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book

“Carrie's voice is effortless and crystal clear”.

Last night’s entertainment was the 2nd night of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s first solo tour, at Oxford’s New Theatre. And very good it was too!

The evening started with a support act for around 20 minutes, Irish trio Trinity. The three men were very talented, and gelled just right as a trio. They performed front of stage a number of songs including Danny Boy, From Now On from The Greatest Showman and Anthem from Chess. As well as great vocals, what shone through was their personalities. They came across as thoroughly charming and funny. 

Also lovely, was at the end of their set, Carrie and her musicians came straight on stage. I’d expected a short interval, but there wasn’t one at this stage (although there was one a little later).

So what of the star turn? I’ve seen Carrie before in Les Mis, but I confess that for various reasons I missed Cinderella, and missed her in Heathers and The Addams Family. I am pretty sure I saw her as a small child in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang alongside Michael Ball, but she’s not been massively on my horizon.  As a middle aged mum, I totally get that I am not her key demographic! 

Interestingly, I thought I might have been outnumbered in last night’s audience by a younger crowd, and certainly there were a lot of young adults and teenagers, some in Heathers ‘cosplay’, but overall, the audience was very mixed. The atmosphere was very warm and appreciative that one of the West End’s finest musical theatre performers (and now branching out beyond MT too) was bringing her show to the provinces.

The staging was a lot more interesting than you might expect for a singer and a 5 person band. Piles of books, a writing desk and sofa. It was really very intimate in what is actually a huge theatre and stage to fill! 

Carrie’s concept was that this was the inside of her mind, and that having said she’d do a tour, this was her inner most thoughts and fears and joy at planning how to do it. There is also an interactive element; beforehand we’d been emailed a QR code to help her choose the anecdotes, and therefore the songs that went with them, for the show. So, the show I saw last night will be different, one assumes, to all or most of the shows on the tour, which is very clever.

The band were very tight. There was a lovely trio of strings (cello, violin and viola), a guitarist and a keyboard player/MD. All were brilliant, so well done to Musical Director Ben Van Tienan. 

So onto Carrie. Frankly, what a talent! Her voice is effortless, and so crystal clear.   She didn’t just sing songs that she had performed before in shows she’s been in, which I liked a lot. It was a very different set list, probably because of the QR code input. For me, standouts were her Stars/On My Own medley from Les Mis, which was just stunning. She also paid tribute to older brother Tom, with a lovely McFly number!  Her anecdotes veered between being very funny to sweet and charming to poignant, and also inspiring to the young fans in the audience about such matters as body confidence etc. 

The end was also very clever and positive, without giving away any spoilers…

Carrie's Open Book tour runs until the 11th June at various locations around the UK.  For tickets visit: Carrie Hope Fletcher Tickets | Musicals in London & UK | Times & Details (ticketmaster.co.uk)

Review written by Ruth Hawkins

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