In 1996 Andy Reiss and David Fawcett were asked to arrange and perform a series of musical theatre concerts for the MENCAP Charity.
Andy and David had met while performing in the original Manchester company of Les Miserables.
The first concert took place in a small marquee in the grounds of a country house in Piltdown, Sussex.
The concert followed the successful formula employed by Andy Reiss, who had developed this musical concert format with his earlier charity fundraising group, Ovation – putting together an evening of classical musical theatre hits with the sole aim of delivering them as if they were being heard in the original production.
Over the next few years, the show began to take on a life of its own. Andy and David recruited two brilliant stars in Rebecca Thornhill and Carmen Cusack, following a move to only cast Les Miserables principals.
With the decision to plan a full UK Tour in 1999 the show, after much deliberation, was renamed ‘Beyond the Barricade’
Beyond the Barricade launched into a major UK Tour and swiftly built up a reputation for its slick no nonsense style – giving musical theatre songs a bold concert format treatment – but with the conviction and intention to deliver the material as if the audience were watching the original performance.
The refusal to use ‘click’ tracks also enhanced the dynamic feel of the show. Andy, together with John Cornford – the show’s original keyboard player – worked hard to capture the feel of the original orchestrations of the chosen musicals, and to this day every musical note is still played and sung live – very rare indeed.
Beyond the Barricade celebrated its first major year on the circuit with a Gala Performance at the Royal Albert Hall. They were joined onstage by a fantastic 100 voice choir made up from people who had worked with Andy on the numerous Les Miserables Masterclasses he had directed. Such a bold move may have been perceived as being a step too far, but the support from fans of Beyond the Barricade made it more than worthwhile. It was a night to remember.
The show carried on growing and developing, but never losing sight of its original premise to deliver the songs with the truth and conviction intended by their composers.
Beyond the Barricade claimed its own space in the history of musical theatre shows when the production reached its 10th Anniversary in 2009 and celebrated in style with a Gala Concert at the wonderful Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Over the years we have had the good fortune to work with some great female voices of the West End – many who have gone on to great things following their association with BTB, and we continue to wish them all the very best.
Our concert venues now include theatres in Ireland, Spain, Malta and Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila, and in 2016 we completed a 4 week tour of New Zealand, playing 25 concerts in 27 days. Beyond the Barricade has also appeared on the three Cunard liners, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, and Queen Victoria, but our continued presence on the theatre scene in the UK is down to the fantastic support of our audience.
As Beyond the Barricade launches into 2017 and its 18th Anniversary Year, we are more than aware that thousands of fans return year after year to support us, and for that we remain eternally grateful.
Source: Official homepage