Flying nannies, ghouls that live under Opera houses, man-eating plants, and French revolutionaries might seem like an unlikely group, but they actually have something in common – they’re all characters from famous musicals that can be heard nightly at Overtures, the musical theatre piano bar. Located in Lola’s underneath the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, Overtures has been open for a few years now and has been affectionately dubbed the Marie’s Crisis of London.
Without an open mic or stage, Overtures offers a unique experience where everyone sings together as one great big musical chorus. This creates a welcoming and inclusive environment where patrons are encouraged to join, regardless of their vocal abilities. Opening every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 8pm until late, the rolling list of pianists and hosts at Overtures guides patrons through the very best of the musical theatre cannon, from Disney’s Frozen to Oliver! and beyond.
Lola’s itself is a decadent den of style and glamour reminiscent of the Hippodrome Casino’s glory days that hosted the now famous Judy Garland residency. With tables and chairs for table service, a large bar for ordering drinks and couches for relaxing Lola’s offers a space for everyone. As the night goes on, patrons often form a dance floor and dance and act out songs they know and love.
The night I visited Overtures, I was struck by the friendliness of the regulars, who were always ready with lyrics on their mobile phones and a cheeky grin when their favorite ballad or Disney bop started playing. The talented pianists (many of which play in the West End), played a variety of songs, from classic Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim mega-hits to modern favorites from shows like Heathers and The Rocky Horror Show. The evening culminated with the entire crowd joining together for an enthusiastic rendition of “One Day More” from Les Misérables, with groups of people taking on each character and harmonies erupting from the ensemble.
Whether you’re a die-hard musical theatre fan or just looking for a unique night out in London, Overtures is the perfect destination. Often visited by West End stars who’ll happily offer a special performance to patrons lucky enough, it’s a home away from home for musical theatre fans. Overtures is a welcoming and inclusive space where everyone can join in, sing and have a perfectly marvelous time!
Reviewed by Stuart James