Wales Millennium Centre marks the culmination of its tenth-anniversary year in style withBroadway to the Bay, a three-night celebration of the musicals that the Centre (as it is known locally) has hosted during that time. Over 50 musicals have been staged in the main auditorium, the Donald Gordon Theatre, in Cardiff Bay, including major tours of Miss SaigonLes MiserablesWicked and Phantom of the Opera – these are shows that wouldn't have previously been seen in Wales prior to the Centre's opening. Headlining this specially-produced show, bringing the sounds of Broadway direct to the Bay, are three performers with considerable West End and Broadway experience – Ruthie Henshall, Kerry Ellis and homegrown Wales star John Owen Jones. Combining these, and other singing talents, with the onstage Novello Orchestra (itself conceived and developed at the Centre) and dancers on a glitzy set makes for a very exciting and high quality evening.


Not restricting the repertoire to musicals that have been staged at the Centre, there were selections from other works – even Stephen Sondheim is featured (whose work was only recently featured at the Centre with the Welsh National Opera production of his Sweeney Todd). David Thaxton (a Sondheim Olivier Award winner for Passion) and John Owen Jones open the show dressed as workmen and give a straight-faced and ironic 'Instructions to the Audience' from Sondheim's rarely seen The Frogs. Thaxton returns later for a well-acted, reflective 'Being Alive' from Company – surely he will be first in line to be cast as Bobby in the next revival. And Ruthie Henshall gives the requisite emotion to Sally's torch-song from Follies, 'Losing My Mind', a role she played at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. Ragtime – another musical not likely to be staged on a large scale at the Centre anytime soon, but which actually had its European premiere at another Cardiff venue, St David's Hall, before transferring to the West End in 2003, is also featured, with Rhydian Roberts and Shan Cothi bringing their vocal grandour to the evocative 'Wheels of a Dream'.


But it's reminders of the musical 'big guns' of the past ten years at the Centre that have the most impact in this celebratory evening. Sophie Evans (who earlier delighted with a powerful rendition of 'Over the Rainbow' from The Wizard of Oz) joins John Owen Jones (rather than the more age-appropriate Thaxton) for 'Last Night of the World' from Miss Saigon – the Centre's very first large-scale, long-run musical. The dancers feature in routines from Singin in the Rain and West Side Story, while Lucie Jones tugs at the heart strings in 'With You' from Ghost. There's only the occasional misbeat – 'You Can't Stop the Beat' with Russell Grant as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray – a show that opened its first UK tour at the Centre, and the Tenors of Rock chief amongst them. However, headliners Ruthie Henshall and Kerry Ellis delight in the iconic duet from Wicked, 'For Good', before Ellis reprises her definitive version of 'Defying Gravity' – the opening line, 'Something has changed within me', provoking a laugh from the audience as Ellis is currently heavily pregnant. The evening comes to a dramatic climax with a medley from Les Mis featuring Caroline Sheen as Fantine in 'I Dreamed A Dream' and John Owen Jones reprising Jean Valjean's 'Bring Him Home' – a role he actually played on tour at the Centre. And there's a look to the future with a return to Sondheim and his Merrily We Roll Along song 'Our Time' featuring an amazing array of young local talent including students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. For them, the future looks good...who knows, it could even lead from the Bay all the way back to Broadway.