Could it be Manilow? Musician celebrates Barry Manilow's greatest hits at Queen's Theatre
PUBLISHED: 15:22 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:32 28 January 2020
A musician will be celebrating the extensive music catalogue of Barry Manilow in a show that promises to be "anything but a tribute act" in Hornchurch.
Total Productions' show Manilow - A Celebration of Barry Manilow is coming to Queen's Theatre next month.
Philip Hawkins will walk his audiences through a back catalogue of Barry's tracks, some of which have shaped Philip's own journey in a career that has spanned 25 years in the entertainment industry.
He told the Recorder: "It's anything but a tribute act.
"As a producer I'm not a fan of tribute shows - the dodgy wigs or bad accents.
"It's a really fun, engaging evening.
"I chat to the audience and I don't expect people to just sit and watch me as if I'm Barry Manilow, I want the audience to take part."
Philip's admiration for Barry began after his mum took him to a concert when he was 18.
He said: "I didn't want to go at first. But as a performer I was blown away. I became a bit of a secret fan because it wasn't cool to tell my friends that I was a fan.
"My first time performing a Barry Manilow song was on a cruise ship in horrendous sea conditions off the coast of Biscay.
"I remember thinking one day I'm going to do a show where I pay homage to the incredible song book that he left us."
But before Philip could perform his show he would have to contend with fierce members of the Manilow fan club.
"The fans are very protective," said Philip.
"I knew this was a show that I was going to be hated for.
"I invited the 'Fanilows' [Barry Manilow fans] to the show and I said you're going to hate me anyway so just come and see it.
"Across the board everyone has been turned round and they said it was thoroughly enjoyable."
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Audience members can expect to hear all of the singer's classic hits including Even Now, I Write the Songs, One Voice, Copacabana, Could It Be Magic, I Made It Through The Rain and Mandy.
Philip's favourite song is Weekend in New England.
He said: "I remember that first concert [I went to] and he performed the songs together.
"We were in London with around 30,000 people in the audience and you couldn't hear a pin drop."
Speaking about what makes Barry different from other musicians, Philip said it is his ability to cross barriers and to cross time.
"I don't think we have true showmen anymore. If you think about the legends like Elton John, George Michael and David Bowie - those people will be remembered forever for their performances.
"Famously Frank Sinatra went up to Barry Manilow and said to him 'keep doing what you're doing' because Barry was just so entertaining.
"I think he's an incredible producer and musician."
Barry's career spans five decades and he has sold more than 75 million records as a solo artist worldwide which makes him one the world's best-selling artists.
Philip added: "He's got the biggest fan base in the world - bigger than the Beatles.
"He's written for other people and he's written musicals.
"The legacy of songs he will leave is exceptional."
Philip has performed in other shows at the Queen's Theatre but this is the first time he will perform the Manilow show at the Hornchurch venue.
He said: "The most interesting thing is that no one show is the same because the audience changes how the show comes across and the flow of the night.
"As soon as the first song is over I have a 10 minute chat with the audience and that sets the tone for the whole evening."
Manilow - A Celebration of Barry Manilow is showing at the Queen's Theatre in Billet Lane on February 24.
Visit queens-theatre.co.uk or call 01708 443333 for tickets.