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Tour 2009 UK: Reviews & Interviews, 14th June 2009

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Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of The Worlds

By Helen Tither

LEGEND has it Orson Welles’ eerie reading of War of the Worlds on the wireless caused mass panic in the 1930s as people believed it was a real alien invasion.

If only they could see Jeff Wayne’s spectacular stage version of the HG Well’s classic, who knows what pandemonium would ensue?

The spine-chilling sight of a 35-ft Martian machine descending into the M.E.N. Arena shooting death-rays at the audience is enough to give even sci-fi sceptics a shiver. And the inter-galactic thrills don’t end there.

Part theatre, part film, part musical recital, Jeff Wayne’s staging of his classic War of the World’s recording is a truly masterful way to bring the classic vinyl (currently celebrating its 30th anniversary) to life.

From the opening film of Martians plotting to attack earth, to the haunting tones of Richard Burton narrating those classic opening lines, his face projected hologram-style into thin air, there’s a treat at every turn.

Not forgetting the spectacular special effects, including the ghost of the parson’s wife (played with suitable wide-eyed innocence by ex-Brookie babe Jennifer Ellison) floating above the crowd.

Star turns include Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward, singing the journalist’s role, Australian star Shannon Noll as Nathaniel and Alexis James as the desperate artilleryman.

Although the standing ovation was reserved for Jeff Wayne himself, conductor on the night, and his amazing musicians. The Black Smoke Band providing the rock edge to the stunning ULLAdubULLA Strings.

Special effects aside, it’s really the music itself that is out of this world.

Reviewed: Sun, 14 June, 2009

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