Mixing serious and light-hearted music and delivering it in an almost cheeky manner with bags of enthusiasm and personality is an art that Hethersett based tenor Benjamin Lake seems to have mastered.
In what seems to have become an annual concert in Hethersett Village Hall, Benjamin once again illustrated that big ballads, showstopping tunes, lighter numbers and operatic arias can rub shoulders on the same stage.
This time Benjamin ran through many of his favourite numbers. There were tried and trusted operatic pieces from Pagliacci and Puccini’s Nessun Dorma but also some more unexpected material such as Neil Diamond’s Love on the Rocks. Benjamin is a big showman in more senses than one – focussing on material from Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Whistle Down the Wind with a powerful voice that he admits is still trying to come to terms with using a microphone in larger halls. Certainly his voice is comfortably strong enough to get away with no amplification.
Benjamin admits that he now feels totally at home in Hethersett and that came across in the fun way he introduced his songs and the laughter that ensued throughout the audience when he firstly surprised the audience with his rendition of Benny Hills “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)” and then surprised himself by accidentally repeating one of the verses.
Then he had the audience laughing with him in mixing up his set list and mixing up his words in introducing a big Barry Manilow balled by telling us the songwriter had met with “success after sex” rather than “success after success.” “I bet that one gets into the newspapers,” he quipped.
Above all Benjamin provided over two hours of exceptional entertainment – strong voice, strong emotions but always with a big dollop of fun and more than a hint of devilment. I suspect he enjoyed it as much as the audience.
Jerry Springer The Opera Reviews
A CurtainUp Review
Benjamin Lake plays Dwight the slob and later God as a magnificent TV preacher-like icon, in white suit and diamante cummerbund and freshly waved hair. He sounds magnificent, that deep register!
Alistair Macaulay, 30 April 2003
Alison Jiear as Shawntel (and as Eve), Benjamin Lake as Dwight (and God), are outstanding, in both their acting and their singing.
Michael Billington, 30 April 2003
they come up with a genuinely funny idea like a white-suited God, excellently played by Benjamin Lake, who sings ‘It ain't easy being me’.
Independent on Sunday
Kate Billington, 30 April 2003
and Benjamin Lake's rhinestone-encrusted God is a divine comedy unto himself, crooning "It ain't easy being me" as he descends like a celestial barrage balloon.
Another performance to mention is Benjamin Lake, who's voice is just beautiful. His song in the second act; 'It aint easy being me' makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, it's that good!
Hethersett-based tenor Benjamin Lake seems to specialise in bad weather events. Benjamin always jokes about appearing at venues when there is snow on the ground or when it is freezing cold. For his latest appearance at Hethersett Village Hall a near capacity audience had to brave strong winds and heavy rain. Those who made the effort were warmed and cheered up by a huge range of music from opera including Puccini’s Tosca and Turendot, West End shows, country and western and power ballads. Benjamin proved equally at home with big Opera numbers such as Nessun Dorma, big production numbers like “This is My Life” and “The Impossible Dream” swing numbers like “It’s wonderful” and country numbers such as “Help Me Make it Through the Night.” He also mixed in material from the like of Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra and some comedy in the form of the Blues Brothers’ “Minnie the Moocher.” The audience got into the swing of things by clapping along to the Toreador song from Bizet’s Carmen. Benjamin is a huge Sinatra fan and showcased Las Vegas memories with “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “The Lady is a Tramp” and “Come Fly With Me.” There was plenty of show and musical songs with Edith Piaf’s “If You Love Me” from the film “La Vie en Rose,” “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera and the incomparable “Somewhere” from West Side story. Part of Benjamin’s success is his easy going nature and cheeky cockney character which had him ending with “O Sole Mio” in tribute to his hero Mario Lanza in which he mischievously led the audience in a verse of "just one cornetto". The audience appreciated the power, yet at times tenderness of Benjamin's trained operatic voice and thoroughly enjoyed the wide ranging programme which ended with an encore of Roy Orbison’s popular hit “Crying.” It was a memorable afternoon of music from a very talented singer who is happy to be just a shadow of his former self, having slimmed down from 26 to 14 stone.
Top tenor Benjamin Lake warmed the hearts of the audience at Hethersett Village Hall with his engaging personality and a rich variety of material.
Benjamin’s one off concert attracted a good sized audience despite the icy conditions. The singer seemed surprised by the numbers that had braved the snow.
The singer is fresh from the West End where he appeared in Phantom of the Opera and at Hethersett he mixed show songs with opera and some lighter material.
Puccini and Leoncavallo stood alongside Piaf, Bernstein, Lloyd-Webber, Sinatra and even Tom Jones as he gave full vent to his vocal range and theatrical approach to music.
Throughout Benjamin delighted the audience with his friendly patter that pulled them into his world of opera and musical theatre. His warm cheeky cockney speaking voice came as a wonderful foil to his more recognisable singing voice that has been heard not only on stage but at rugby World Cup finals.
Benjamin got his initial big break by appearing on the popular television show My Kind of Music and it is this populist appeal that has made him a successful solo artist as well as a much sought after show singer.
There is nothing pompous about Benjamin Lake and that was clearly evident as he seemed to enjoy himself as much as the audience at Hethersett.