West End Live 2018 Review
West End Live is the UK theatre industry’s answer to Glastonbury. The weekend sees most of the West End and Touring shows perform on stage at Trafalgar Square. The festival is produced by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre with support from the Mayor of London.
The festival included performances from West End hits such as Kinky Boots, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Disney’s The Lion King as well as new emerging shows such as Six, Eugenius! and Heathers. I luckily got to see a large amount of the performances on the weekend so I thought that I would give you a rundown of my highlights.
Disclaimer: I missed the first hour of the Saturday lineup which is why some of my favourite shows don’t appear in these highlights such as Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Kinky Boots and Wicked.
Heathers The Musical
I feel that the show most people want to hear more about is Heathers. The killer musical, currently having a sell-out run at The Other Palace, performed on the Sunday to an electric crowd full of scrunchies. Their set consisted of three of the most popular tunes from the show. The set began with “Candy Store” featuring the feisty Heathers trio of Jodie Steele, T’Shan Willians and Sophie Isaacs. Next was Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jamie Muscato singing the main ballad of the show, “Seventeen”. I would be certain that any people unsure over Fletcher’s casting were silenced after their flawless performance proving that she’s the perfect fit (I got to see the dress run of the full show so this is not purely based on this performance). Rounding out the set was Rebecca Lock who proved why she is a West End legend. She was my first West End leading lady so I have always had a soft spot for her as a performer but she truly had the vast audience in the palm of her hand during “Shine A Light”.
My next stand out would be the soon-to-return to The Other Palace, Eugenius! I was lucky enough to see the show in its first run, however it was only after the run that I truly appreciated just how good the score to the show was. The cast, including Dan Buckley, Laura Baldwin and Liam Forde, performed three of the main anthems from the show which were “Shoot For The Stars”, “Comic Book Kind Of Love” and “Go Eugenius!” The show is one of the first shows to prove that Off-West End venues such as The Other Palace can produce new hit musicals and the crowds at the performances on both days proved that the show has a mainstream appeal similar to other cult musicals such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop Of Horrors.
One of the other upcoming shows that made an impact was the new British musical, Six. The show lets the six wives of Henry VIII tell their sides to the story. At West End Live the new cast performed the opening track “Ex-Wives” and personally it made me really intrigued to go and watch the show to see what happens and how this modern adaption works on stage.
Disney’s The Lion King
One of the highlights of the Sunday lineup was Disney’s The Lion King. The show has been running in London for nearly two decades and their performance proved the show is still a crowdpleaser. The cast performed the songs “Circle of Life”, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” and “He Lives In You” in their Act 2 opening outfits. I think it was also a great decision that free flags of the show were given out during the queue line as it was great to see a crowd full of waving yellow flags.
A Spoonful Of Sherman
A Spoonful of Sherman was my other major highlight from the Sunday performances as it brought me great joy to hear the music of the Sherman family and to hear the whole audience join in singing their iconic tunes. A major shoutout to Glen Facey as he truly stood out and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. I find it intriguing that the show performed seeing as it currently has no upcoming performances announced however their Twitter account replied to say “keep your eyes peeled” for announcements.
West End Live 2018 was an amazing event and a great way to introduce new audiences to theatre. It is great to see diverse shows such as Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Kinky Boots and Dreamgirls on the stage showing that the theatre community is diverse and telling the stories of people from all walks of life. It’s also such a great platform for contemporary musical theatre writing such as Eugenius!, Six and Heathers and introducing them to a mainstream audience as it helps to possibly give the shows a bigger life than expected.
Lastly, did you go to West End Live this year? If so, what were your favourite performances and what would you like to see happen for next year’s festival?
Love you Aeronauts,