THROW a glance at any of the innumerable singing contests and talent dojos scattered liberally across the Saturday night TV listings (likely Sunday, too, if you plump for one of Cowell’s latest offerings), and chances are, somewhere amidst the sob stories, joke acts and shock twists, you’ll find the latest incarnation of ‘next big boy band: Mk 2019’. 

And, in this post-Glee/Susan Boyle era, it isn’t as rare as it once was to find a soupçon of musical theatre thrown in for good measure, either.

Yet fast forward twelve months, and five will get you ten that rarely do even winners still command much in the way of airwaves, screen time or stage presence. After all, for every ‘One Direction’ explosion, there’s a ‘Boyband’ (seriously... see: Britain’s Got Talent 2015) or '5 after Midnight', or a… ermm… well, you get the picture.

Bucking the trend with bravura and brilliance, then, are former 2014 Got Talent winners ‘Collabro’, who this week brought their ‘Road to the Royal Albert Hall’ to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, one of the last venues on this, their ‘biggest ever UK tour’, that also marries with a fourth studio album of the same name.

Branded as ‘The World’s No1 Musical Theatre Group’, an evening in their company makes it immediately apparent why the talented foursome (formerly five; original member Richard Hadfield departed in 2016) have continued to maintain an avid fanbase, captivate audiences of all ages across the UK and beyond, and suffered little (if any) real competition in the ‘musical theatre boyband’ niche they have carved for themselves.

For starters, the vocals here are of a quality which will quickly silence any doubter or naysayer of the fruits of such TV talent searches. It truly transcends such labeling. The soaring rises of ‘Bring Him Home’, the tender yet robust stylings of ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’, the note-perfect intricacy of their colourful ‘Maria’ harmonies, and the breath-taking majesty of full-bodied, powerhouse renditions of such demanding seminals as ‘Defying Gravity’ and ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ are just some of a plethora of highlights. It is eye-watering, gobsmacking stuff; a calibre of musical theatre vocal gymnastry and clout that even the West End would struggle to match.

It helps, of course, that the group are cheeky, playful and immensely endearing to boot. The night is peppered with plenty of light-hearted, inconsequential banter and clownery between the quartet that keeps things light and frothy throughout, from some unfortunate lyrical readings (a particular highlight being a prolonged examination from Billy Elliot’s ‘Electricity) to harmless prodding at some of the show’s more sincere moments (mostly courtesy of Matt Pagan). It isn’t difficult to see why they are so beloved by young and old alike, with the audience in the Grand certainly reflecting such diversity of age.

But should the rich buffet of musical theatre wonderment and boyish bonhomie not prove satisfaction enough, then the group offer another stagey ace from up their sleeves in the form of West End superstar Kerry Ellis, accompanying them in Wolverhampton and for a number of other dates (alternating ‘Special Guest’ status with Lauren Samuels).

And if anyone can give the boys a run for their money in the vocals department, it’s Ellis. 

Kickstarting with a staggeringly powerful rendition of ‘Anthem’ (from Chess - a signature), the former Elphaba/Grizabella/Nancy/Meat (this could on in almost perpetuity) brings a loveable, cheery persona that belies the sheer power and bombast of an almost otherworldly talent. Ellis returns later for a number or two from, naturally, The Greatest Showman (this being 2019, after all), and when she unites with Collabro for a soulful, pitch-perfect take on Showman’s ‘A Million Dreams’, well, it simply doesn’t get much better for fans of the genre.

In fact that, in many ways, is the ethos of the ‘Collabro’ / ‘Road to the Royal Albert Hall’ experience. If you are even a tangental fan of musicals - or even just of a good sing song - then you absolutely owe it to yourself to immerse yourself in the talents of this incomparable evening of theatrical sumptuousness. Forget those ‘dream a dream’ or ‘build the barricade’ troupes that are all very nice but ten-a-penny and seemingly touring every other Tuesday, Collabro are ambassadors of musical theatre brilliance par excellence, and with Ellis on board for this latest tour, they raise the bar right along with the roof.

If this review has seemed to exhaust my supply of superlatives, it’s because these guys are just that good, and deserve every note, beat and inflection of success and opportunity they’re enjoying. A characterful, fresh opening act in the form of 'Georgia & the Vintage Youth' (check them out here), accompaniment from the fantastic, local Anthem Youth Choir (with a selection of local choirs having been picked across the tour), a wonderfully eclectic set list that includes a handful of upbeat medleys and unexpected choices (that shan’t be spoiled here), some stellar musical accompaniment and dynamic, vibrant lighting design that masterfully emboldens the gorgeous performances, all helps to make ‘Road’ a nigh-faultless, winning time for all involved.

And, after it all, the foursome have continued to chart the most impressive rise of all; they are no longer just ‘winners of that show’, (along with the mixed bag of associations and trajectory implied). They are, without either doubt or a shred of hubris, deservedly indeed the world’s biggest and best of their kind.

With only a handful of days left until they reach the eponymous Hall, anyone who knows their Sunset from their Saigon should get booking on the double!

RATING - ★★★★★

COLLABRO: ROAD TO THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL plays at various venues until Saturday 20th April 2019.

For more information on Collabro and the tour, please visit

For more information on Kerry Ellis, including future performances, please visit

For more information on other productions and performances at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, please visit