Colm Wilkinson is nothing short of a Broadway legend.
Known for his performances in hits like “Les Misérables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the actor has spent a little more than half of his life enthralling audiences around the world with his incredible talent.
On Tuesday Night, Wilkinson graced the Main Stage Theatre in the Center for the Arts.
The theater was teeming with enthused and excited fans. Before the show even began, conversations about Colm’s past productions and performances flooded the venue.
“I’ve been attending Colm Wilkinson productions for almost 40 years now,” said Dave Schaefer, a native Buffalonian. “I’ve seen him in Europe, as Judas in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’”
The evening began with “Music of the Night,” a selection from one Wilkinson’s most notable productions, “Phantom of the Opera.” Right away, it became clear why the theater was filled to capacity – Wilkinson’s vocal capabilities, even at 71 years old with thousands of performances under his belt, were just as incredible as the first time the world heard him.
Wilkinson, however, is more than just a singer.
The legendary Broadway star is an eclectic entertainer. Through crowd interaction Wilkinson was able to capture the spirits of the audience.
“Where are all of you from?” asked Wilkinson.
“Ohio!” said an audience member.
“I once worked in Ohio, for the mafia. I didn’t know it was the mafia, really” said Wilkinson humorously.
He continued with a short narrative, speaking to his audience in such a way that almost made you feel like he was someone you knew. His connection with the audience set him apart from many other performers like him.
The night continued with performances that extended far past the Broadway songs he is most popularly known for.
Wilkinson showcased the variety of styles his vocals are able to take on, performing songs like “First of May” by The Bee Gees, “Country Rose” by John Denver and “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash.
These performances also did a fantastic job of showcasing the seven-man band that performed with Wilkinson, which included the drums, bass, cello, keyboard, piano, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, saxophone, clarinet and flute.
“The band was so talented, and he did such a great job utilizing them,” said John Greer, a 55-year-old Buffalo resident.
One band member switched from flute, to sax to clarinet throughout the concert, demonstrating great skill.
The band’s performance of the Doc Watson classic “Mama Don’t Allow Music” showcased these skills most brilliantly.
For his second act, Wilkinson returned with a theatrical performance of “Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)” and followed with “Somewhere” from “West Side Story.”
Once again, Wilkinson’s eclectic performance style took the audience back out Broadway and this time brought them back to Beatle Mania.
Wilkinson performed The Beatles classics like “Get Back” and “Hey Jude”, where he even showed off a dance move or two.
“I absolutely love that he sang those Beatles songs, that was my favorite part of the concert,” said Deborah Park, a 60-year-old Syracuse resident.
Wilkinson ended the show with a touching performance of “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserablés.”
The song was dedicated to Kyle Jean Baptiste, the first African American to play Jean Valjean in “Les Miserablés,” who died in August of this year and Michael Burgess, one of the most popular actors to play Jean Valjean, who died just a month ago.
Wilkinson’s cross between a Broadway performer and rockstar – that contrast – made for a stellar performance that truly took the audience to “Broadway and Beyond.”
Gabriela Ortiz is an arts staff writer. Arts desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.