You could think that people have gone crazy, when you listen to the sounds coming from Trafalgar Square on the weekend of 18th/19th June. However, they haven’t gone crazy; it’s time for West End Live, a gathering for musical fans, which celebrates its twelfth successful year in 2016. On these two days, the Trafalgar Square is expected to see people who want to watch the showcases from Musicals currently playing in the West End or going to open in the near future. The program promises musical fans great entertainment with parts from shows like The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and The Lion King.
The show was opened by the musical Motown. The show around the fifties sounds brought good vibes in the masses of fans from the beginning on. Afterwards Tom Chambers presented a sneak peek into his new job in Crazy for you, the first fans have already lost their voices screaming for their stars of Wicked. Emma Hatton, Oliver Savile and Savannah Stevenson as well as the choir of cast members animate the fans to sing along. Savannah Stevenson in her pretty sparkling dress also makes her way into the hearts of several little (and some not so little) girls, who just want to be a princess like her.
After Wicked a musical celebrates its West End Live debut. Kinky Boots animates the fans to dance along to the sounds of Cyndi Lauper’s music. The cast with everyone in High heels convinces the audience of the fun and joy the show brings for the people so that everybody is a fan of the musical when the cast leaves the stage. The presentations for Show Boat and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also add to the impression that West End is colourful and unique and everybody will find something they like.
After a minimal drop of atmosphere during the performance of the cast from Sunny Afternoon, a musical about the Kinks, the frenetic cheering starts again with the mere announcement of the cast from Les Miserables entering the stage. Rachelle Ann Go with “I dreamed a dream” and Eva Noblezada with “On my own” perform a beautiful duet version and are celebrated by the fans for their truly beautiful presentation. When finally the entire cast performs “One day more” the fans can’t be stopped in their enthusiasm.
The song “Naughty” from Matilda – The Musical presented by Zaris-Angel only powers the vide going on at Trafalgar Square. The fans know that the time is near for the Phantom to appear. Next on stage is the cast of The Phantom of the Opera presenting their iconic “Maquerade” in full costume before Christine, Lisa-Anne Wood, is seduced to sing by no more than four Phantoms. Ben Forster, current Phantom is backed up by alternate Phantom Scott Davies, former castmember and Phatom understudy Jeremy Secomb, who is now Javert at Les Miserables and Les Mis’ very own Jean Valjean Peter Lockyer, who understudied the Phantom in America. This once in a lifetime performance blows all fans away and was rewarded with long lasting applause.
The afternoon was completed at West End Live by performances of the casts from Jersey Boys, In the Heights, Mamma Mia, Jesus Christ Superstar and many more.
The start into Day 2 is made by the cast of The Lion King who perform in front of a so to speak, sold out house. After a cloudy sky the day before, the sun greeted everyone this Sunday. The colourful costumes of the Lion King Cast matched the weather perfectly. They showed strong-voiced that even in the seventeenth year in London they are still a good thing to see. Following them was another long-run show. Stomp, bringing together rhythm, comedy and dance, used their drums to wake up the last sleepyheads. The first fans told to have been there from 7 a.m. to get a place in the front row. The front row seats are of importance for the program in the afternoon. Ramin Karimloo and Samantha Barks were on the program. But before them, the cast of Guys and Dolls (soon to be joined by Pitch Perfect Star Rebel Wilson), Thriller Live and Matilda did their piece of work. Especially young Emily-May as Matilda made impression on her audience.
Beverly Knight, soon to be returning to the cast of The Bodyguard, also added to the mix of music, which produced a great atmosphere. Her interpretation of “I will always love you” brings forward several love declarations by the fans. A similar number of love declarations can only be witnessed for Matt Cardle and Michael Xavier, who has just finished a run of Sunset Boulevard next to co-star Glenn Close.
However, West End Live does not only do big productions also new and different formats can be seen there. The songs of West End Kids, Chickenshed and West End Masterclass also get their fair share of stage time and love from the audience.
One of the highlights of Day 2 was the show from The Barricade Boys. This group consisting of former stars from several Les Miserables productions is represented by Kieran Brown, Andy Coxon, John Addison, Scott Garnham and Simon Schofield on this day. The audience had the pleasure of listening to their very own versions of “I dreamed a dream” and “One Day more”. The actors showed that they do not have to hide when it comes to the comparison with the original cast the day before.
The West End Live event is one, which you won’t find anywhere else. With twelve successful years Robert Davies, MBE shows that it is possible to keep such a thing going and that it can be filled with life throughout the years. Fair enough it is only possible with big sponsors but West End Live shows that musical theatre has something for everyone. Concluding we can only say: West End (Live) is always worth giving it a go!