Friday, 16 March 2007

The Column - This Is The Moment - Anthony Warlow

This Is The Moment!

Well a month or so ago I promised to write about some of my essential performers you may be less familiar with. Then promptly I wrote about Petula Clark and Liza Minnelli. Well, now is the time that I redress the balance and tell you about Anthony Warlow. I am sure many of you know of Anthony as, simply put, he is possibly the best male musical theatre voice in the world today. Well, I think so anyway!

Born in Australia in the early sixties, Anthony was classically trained and early appearances were in operas such as Tosca, The Magic Flute (where he became the youngest ever Papageno at 21) and A Midsummer Nights Dream where he made his debut with the Australian Opera at the age of nineteen. . However it wasn’t long before Warlow was attracted to the world of musical theatre, appearing in Guys And Dolls in 1986. and the following year he appeared as Enjolras in the original Australian production of Les Miserables , he was considered by many to be the greatest performer ever in the role and he repeated his performance on the International Symphonic Recording of the show. It was shortly after this that he played the title role in The Phantom Of The Opera in Melbourne, making him the youngest performer to play the role, at 29, a record he holds to this day . He won several industry awards as a result of his performance and critics have noted that his is the only performance to rival Michael Crawfords original. Countless television appearances in his native Australia followed over the next few years and he began a very successful recording career.

It was from these first recordings in the early nineties that Warlow first came to my attention. His first two collections, Centrestage and On The Boards collect songs together from musical theatre spanning almost the entire twentieth century. Warlow approaches each song as if he is performing it within the context of the original show and displays chameleon like qualities as his soaring baritone gives us definitive versions of songs that he has performed on stage as well as in concert. His Music Of The Night and Anthem would be hard to better and I have never heard anyone duet with themselves to such perfection as he does on You’re Nothing Without Me from City Of Angels where you would swear it is two people singing. It was shortly after these early successes that Warlow was diagnosed with lymphoma, a personal battle that he successfully overcame. Following his recovery, the 1993 release of Back In The Swing – featuring big band and swing numbers – saw him take on a major Australian tour where the track Without A Song became something of a theme song for him. He swiftly followed this with the role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, a role he has played many times in following years. 1994 saw the release of his fourth album, Midnight Dreaming , a collection of show tunes and standards with stunning new arrangements. I think this is possibly his best album to date, and his versions of Unexpected Song and Losing My Mind must be the best male vocal versions recorded. The mid-nineties saw a return to the Australian Opera with a role in Gilbert And Sullivan’s Patience and heading the Australian cast of The Secret Garden. When, prior to the Broadway production of Jekyll And Hyde, a studio cast double cd was released it was Warlow that was cast in the lead role. His vocal versatility and talent for mimicry was perfect for the role and this has to be the definitive recording of the show. Nobody sings This Is The Moment quite like Anthony. It’s said that the producers hoped to contract him for the New York production, however Warlow preferred to focus his career on Australia where he could remain near his young family.

As well as various opera productions, and the critically acclaimed role of Teen Angel in the arena tour of Grease, the late nineties saw Anthony starring in a number of huge concert spectaculars. Sandwiched between The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Tim Rice Concert Spectacular was The Main Event. The Main Event saw Warlow joined by Olivia Newton John and John Farnham in a concert that broke all records down under and outsold all international acts in 1998. The concert saw each of the trio having a sizeable solo performance as well as duo and trio sections featuring all three. The album of the concert hit number one in the charts, and a TV Special and video/DVD followed.

The new millennium saw Anthony playing Daddy Warbucks in a Sydney and Melbourne production of Annie. It’s to his credit that writers Martin Charnin and Charles Strouse, wrote Why Should I Change A Thing specially for Anthony to sing in this production. Two years later he returned to the same two cities to play Cervantes/Don Quixote in Man Of La Mancha. He must have had a sixth sense that he would play this role as his recording of The Impossible Dream from the show was on his first album back in 1990. 2003 saw a return to the recording studio with a further collection of big band classics entitled Face The Music, and in 2005 he released a recording of The Snow Goose as well as Tenor And Baritone with David Hobson where the duo sing a selection of Victorian music hall songs . Hopefully it won’t be too long before he records another selection of the theatre music that he so excels at.

Now 45, Anthony’s career continues to go from strength to strength. He is one of the few opera stars whose name on a bill board can increase sales in Australia, as well as being a big draw in musical theatre. Both aspects of his career were displayed to great effect a couple of years ago when he performed in major concerts with our own Lesley Garrett. Currently he is back with the Australian Opera, playing a Jack Sparrow inspired Pirate King in The Pirates Of Penzance, and this summer sees him return to the role that made him a star – The Phantom Of The Opera!

So far Warlow’s career has yet to bring him to London’s West End. He almost made it to Hampton Court a few summers ago, but sadly the concert was cancelled. We can only hope that British audiences get an opportunity to see him perform live before too long!


Of his solo recordings, only Centre Stage got a UK release, but all of his work is usually available at Dress Circle, sometimes at HMV Oxford Street, and regularly shows up on ebay. End Of Act One his greatest hits collection of 1996 is probably a good start for the Warlow novice – although I don’t think the choices on it are particularly his best songs. For my money his best selections are his 1990 debut Centre Stage and 1994’s Midnight Dreaming. Of his two swing collections I prefer the earlier Back In The Swing collection. For any enthusiast of musical theatre then The Main Event DVD should be an essential purchase.

No comments: