West End Live gives the public a taste of London theatre

226548_2_previewThe 2014 West End Live (free) concert took place last weekend in London’s Trafalgar Square. Crowds queued for hours to pack out the pigeons home for two solid days of musical theatre bliss. More than 20 current west end shows took part, performing segments of their shows to wet the whistle of London theatre lovers, giving them a taste of what to expect if they go to see them.

A special treat on Sunday was the 10 from 10 performances. 10 shows that are no longer in the west end but have been in the last ten years (since West End Live started), especially performed by some cast members from the shows. Leanne Jones (who played Tracey Turnblad in the original production of Hairspray) gave a wonderful rendition of Good Morning Baltimore.

Vivienne Carlyle, who closed the west end show Blood Brothers in 2012, playing Mrs Jonstone, returned to sing Easy Terms and Tell Me It’s Not True.

Cast members from the most recent production of Chicago at the Garrick Theatre including Sarah Soetaert and Jenny Gayner razzle dazzled the crowd with several numbers from the show including All That Jazz, All I Care About Is Love and I Am My Own Best Friend. This was such a pleasure to watch as Chicago is one of my all time favourites! Bring it back to the west end I say!

The current touring production of Avenue Q took to the West End Live stage for the first time since it was originally held in Leicester Square with a couple of ‘family friendly’ songs from the show.

Caroline Sheen (who played Mary Poppins in the 2008 UK tour) performed A Spoonful of Sugar which went down very easily with the crowd (no sugar required).

The gorgeous Daniel Boys sang Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Hearing the whole of Trafalgar Square joining in was a very special thing to experience.

Two winners of Andrew Lloyd Webber TV competitions to find new musical theatre stars returned for these special performances. Jodie Prenger (who played Nancy at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane production of Oliver) blew the roof of Trafalgar Square with her rendition of So Long As He Needs Me and Danielle Hope (Dorothy in the recent production of Wizard of Oz) sang Over The Rainbow.

Charlotte Wakefield stepped in at the last minute to replace Michael Xavier who was supposed to perform on behalf of the Sound of Music. Both Charlotte and Michael starred in the recent production at Regents Park Open Air Theatre. She sang The Sound of Music after the crowd were indulged in a piano sing-a-long of Doe Rae Me.

To close the 10 from 10 section of West End Live were Priscilla Queen of the Desert who pumped some camp and glitter into the audience (not literally). It was an hour and a half of pure bliss that would have made any theatre fan weak at the knees in a beautiful homage to shows no longer with us.

West End Live is a brilliant way for the public to check out the shows that are playing in London. In today’s climate, where tickets are being sold for up to £150 each, going to the theatre is not something people can do every week. By being able to see the casts perform a few songs is enabling the public to get a feel for the shows they may be interested in seeing and helping them make the decision of whether they think it is worth paying out for. And judging by the queues to buy tickets in the TKTS booth in Trafalgar Square, the answer was yes, they do!


Written by West End Wilma