All Saints Church, Sawley.
Having a church as a venue is going to create a special atmosphere for any performance, and that was true for this presentation of Christmas songs and songs from musical theatre. There was a certain ambience around, especially with the Christmas carols "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", O Come All ye Faithful" and "O Little Town Of Bethlehem", which the audience were asked to sing as well.
Zak's nerves showed at the start, but come on, let's face it, you're in the lion's den where you can see the whites of their eyes, up close and personal; far removed from his natural habitat of the theatre stage where the spotlights hide the audience and their eyes. It's a brave man (and woman) who performs that close to their audience, and after the initial nerves, Zak just got on with the matter in hand. I think it may also have been nerves that made him sing through the instrumental break of "Winter Wonderland" as well.
That said, he then went on to perform some of his festive favourites, including an absolutely beautiful stripped back version of "Silent Night", one of my favourite Christmas songs, and some lesser known musical theatre songs, again several of my favourites like "Corner Of The Sky" from "Pippin" and two from one of my favourite musical theatre song-smiths, Jason Robert-Brown. "It's Hard To Speak My Heart" and a duet of "All the wasted Time" with Emily Gent, both from the musical "Parade".
Joining Zak were the aforementioned Emily, who did an amazingly good version of "O Holy Night". No vocal acrobatics you hear from the likes of Ms Carey and the like, Emily sung it as it should be sung, beautifully and heartfelt, giving you that shiver down your spine, especially in the surroundings of the church. Emily also treated us to a gorgeous version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Memory" from "Cats".
Tayla Evans was the second of his singing guests and Tayla gave us a song that I'd not heard before in "May It Be" from "Fellowship Of the Ring", which I will be searching out as it's a lovely song, sung with real tenderness. Tayla also introduced me, and I'm sure many others to another new song called "Taylor the Latte Boy", An education for me with Tayla's choices. She also did a beautiful job of "Once In Royal David's City".
Zak and friends were accompanied on keyboards by Leon Wade who also gave us an instrumental version of "The Angel Gabriel" as well Erewash Sound presenter, David Allen on the church organ for the ensemble carols.
The purpose of the evening was also to raise funds for The Caanan Trust in Long Eaton who help homeless people on the street. A representative of the charity told us what the charity does, so I hope that the night provided a great deal of monetary help for such a wonderful cause.
A lovely laid back evening of seasonal entertainment presented by three very talented and warm young people who deserve all the recognition they can get for being selfless and thinking of others.