What a brilliant performer John Barrowman is. Tonight was the first time I’ve watched one of his solo performances, although I’ve seen him treading the boards in ‘The Witches of Eastwick’. Several decades later (gulp), here I was at his Christmas show at London’s Eventim Apollo.
And what an energetic presence he proved to be. Bounding on to the state like an exuberant teenager, Barrowman held the audience in the palm of his hand from the show’s very first moment, as he sang ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ and ‘Happy Holidays to You’. “Drink, be merry and gay”, he bellowed. “And we’re every single one of those in our house!”
Tonight was never going to be dull – and Barrowman knows how to entertain, exclaiming “Tonight is about celebration – and Christmas past, present and future: would you like to see the Barrowmans of Christmas past?” There could only be one answer to that – and some highly enjoyable photos of previous Barrowman festive gatherings dropped down on to a giant screen, including pics of Barrowman and his husband Scott’s Christmas tree – topped by a Death Star. Yes, really.
There was just one question on everyone’s lips, though – and Barrowman was quick to address it. “Shall we talk about the elephant in the room? My hair! The tabloids think I’m ill. Buy the programme: it’s a collector’s item. I’ll never have dark hair again.” And it’s true: I can verify that John Barrowman is now a (very dashing) silver fox.
Hair aside, tonight was all about music – and fun. Highlights included tear jerker ‘This is the Moment’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and “…a Scottish hymn that takes me back. I was born in Glasgow; that’s where I get my filthy sense of humour from”. He was talking about ‘Be Thou My Vision’, which went down a treat.
As did the arrival on stage of Scott, plus Barrowman’s parents, who between them got the audience participating gleefully in an extraordinarily tuneless version of ‘Jingle Bells’ and an equally shocking rendition of ‘Silent Night’. Note: the latter really is better left to the professionals.
By now, we were all thoroughly in the mood for Christmas, throwing ourselves with gusto into ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, with Barrowman reminding us “At this time of year, we need to remember people, especially those no longer with us. This song always reminds me of those people.” I’m sure all of us can identify with that message: Christmas is a joyful time, but also one for contemplation. A fitting note on which to end a fabulous night out.