Yet again, Stephen Rahman-Hughes made Dewan Filharmonik Petronas his musical playground.
IF music be the food of love, then play on,” the wise playwright Shakespeare once said.
And music lovers were recently treated to a veritable banquet of music and romance with In The Mood For Love, a delightful fusion combo of snazzy showtunes and grand orchestral music.
Featuring the vocals of renowned West End performer Stephen Rahman-Hughes, and backed up by the distinguished Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Julian Bigg, the concert was an absolute joy from beginning to end.
Taking place at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP), KLCC last weekend, In The Mood For Love was a tribute to the power of love and featured a wide variety of songs celebrating love in its many forms and guises.
And who better to perform these songs than this British-born singer, actor and choreographer?
Local musical theatre lovers are no doubt familiar with Rahman-Hughes’ name. Among other achievements, he played the lead role in the 2006 staging of Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical, and the 2011 film Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa.
He has also appeared in stage productions such as West Side Story and The Country Wife, and released a self-titled Malay solo album in 2011.
Back in 2010, he headlined his first solo local concert, Showstoppers at DFP, singing a selection of Broadway hits.
Last Saturday night, Rahman-Hughes looked at home on the DFP stage. Appearing suave in a suit and tie, the singer wowed with his beautiful voice, delivering wonderful performances of popular songs, including Nature Boy, Some Enchanted Evening and Don’t Rain On My Parade.
Rahman-Hughes proved to be charming on stage, delivering occasional anecdotes and quips in between songs.
“I’m half Welsh and half Asian, so I’m Wel-Asian,” he joked at one point. “People look at me on stage, and go, oh he’s WELL ASIAN!”
One of the highlights of the show was his performance of the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody.
“This is one of my favourite love songs,” said Rahman-Hughes. “I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy singing it.”
Also enjoyable was The Journey Home from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Bombay Dreams, where Rahman-Hughes had previously played the lead character Akaash.
He also swayed and shimmied during a spirited performance of Michael Buble’s It Had Better Be Tonight, moving into the audience and even singing to a few of them.
“I thought you’d enjoy that one,” the singer joked. “That’s the only dancing I’ll do tonight!”
Rahman-Hughes also performed a stirring rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, accompanied by local pianist Michael Veerappan.
Rahman-Hughes’s soaring vocals were perfectly complemented by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, which performed with passion and skill.
While the orchestra backed Rahman-Hughes on all his songs, it also performed a few numbers on its own, impressing with lovely renditions of The Death of Falstaff and Touch Her Soft Lips And Part, both movements from the Suite For Henry V.
Conductor Bigg also provided many of the evening’s laughs, regaling the audience with hilarious anecdotes, such as the time he was “snogged” by composer Leonard Bernstein. At one point, a mobile phone rang from the orchestra pit. “If that’s my mum, tell her I’m busy,” he quipped, resulting in laughter and applause.
Overall, In The Mood For Love proved to be that sort of personable performance. Add the toe-tapping, finger-snapping for a heartwarming show.