Rob Houchen chats about West End Does: The Magic Of Animation

Tell me about your new West End Production Company, Forty Four Productions – what inspired you to start it and what plans do you have for it?
I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in lots of Concert productions of amazing shows over the last few years at venues such as Cadogan Hall and love the unique and special experience – both for the performers but also the audience. I’ve also been lucky enough to perform lots of themed Concerts over the years in more intimate venues, which have always allowed me and other West End performers the opportunity to perform material we wouldn’t usually get to do. So I wondered if we could create a production company that could access themes (rather than shows) that would appeal to West End fans and performers, but on a large, grand scale – and that’s what we are now trying to do. To put on incredibly special, memorable events, in great venues, with interesting and engaging themes – in this example; songs from animated movies, in future instances; music from franchises like James Bond, and broader themes like Halloween…

You are hosting your Debut Concert “West End Does: The Magic of Animation” at Cadogan Hall, London, on the May Bank Holiday Weekend, Sunday 6th May 2018 at 6pm. What can people expect from the show if they come along?
Well, its fast approaching at the end of this week, and we are so excited! We have a 16 piece orchestra (with a magical Harp!!!) led by West End MD / Conductor Alex Parker; A 12 piece chamber choir, made up of West End professionals who sound incredible, and we feel one of the most exciting cast lists for a concert that has been put together in years! All hosted by the wonderful Christopher Biggins.
The music is all iconic, full of nostalgia and childhood memories – who doesn’t have a favourite animated movie song? So it’s going to be a wonderful evening full of incredible music sung by some of the West End’s finest. What’s not to like?!

You’ve got an incredible cast including Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon), Bradley Jaden (Wicked), Celinde Schoenmaker (Phantom), Fra Fee (The Ferryman) and Carrie Hope Fletcher (The Addams Family), Marisha Wallace (Dreamgirls), and Rachel Tucker (Wicked). How did you put together such a star studded line-up?
Well the cast is made up of extraordinarily talented friends I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with previously, and have become close to me, or people I’ve admired from afar for quite some time! It took a long time to secure this incredible cast, and it wasn’t until we had, we realised just how amazing the list of performers actually is, and we are so lucky to have them all under one roof! We also have some late breaking news that Danielle Hope will be joining the cast too – we really are the gift that keeps on giving to West End fans!

This amazing cast will be performing classic songs from some of the greatest animated movies of all time, with a live orchestra and choir led by Musical Director Alex Parker. What kind of movies can people expect to see at the show?
Well it will be a mix from all kinds of movies, from Beauty and the Beast to Anastasia, Mulan to The Prince of Egypt. We’ve really tried to take classic songs from as many animated films as possible, so everyone gets to hear some of their favourites!

What are some of your personal favourite animated films?
I am a big fan of The Lion King – I always like to think I am somewhat researching Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the same time (if you know, you know). But one of my favourite scores comes from The Hunchback of NotreDame – i also have a soft spot for any story by Victor Hugo 😉

The event will also be raising money for Make A Wish Foundation in the U.K. What is it about this charity that is so special to you and is this the main charity you intend to support going forward through Forty Four Productions?
When I was in Les Mis, we had a visit from a young fan who’s dream it was to meet Marius, which Make a Wish Foundation facilitated. That incredibly special encounter had a profound impact on me personally, and when we discussed, as a production company, how we could use our events to make a real difference, a partnership with The Make A Wish Foundation just seemed like the perfect fit for us. We are thrilled our concerts will make a lasting difference to Children’s lives and are incredibly proud of our partnership. We will certainly be supporting them throughout our events in 2018.

Why should people come and see The Magic Of Animation?
The reasons are endless. If you are a West End fan, then the cast alone should be enough to get you excited! If you love a good animated movie song (who doesn’t?) then this is THE event for you! And if you are simply a fan of great music in one of London’s truly iconic concert halls, then this will tick your box! But we think most people will be fans of all three! And with the opportunity to support such a great cause in Make A Wish UK too, this concert is simply going to be unmissable! So don’t miss out!

Thanks for having Tea With Wilma


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