9:00am, yesterday morning, marked the beginning of London’s annual display of talent with WestEndLIVE. Situated in Trafalgar Square, the event marks a showcase of all London has to offer musical theatre-wise.
I made sure to get there nice and early, and found myself smack bang in the middle of a queue that happily snaked its way up a variety of streets. The atmosphere was buzzing and I soon got to chatting away with fellow theatre fans about who we were looking forward to seeing, what shows we had seen prior to this, etc.
The organisation of the event was smooth and ran without a hitch, the crowd was swiftly escorted into the square, and before you knew it the whole area was packed out with bodies!
The event itself was hosted by a variety of Heart Radio’s presenters, as they interchanged throughout the day making sure a silent moment never occurred, as we waited for the next musical. They included: Roberto, Toby Anstis, Zoe Hardman, Jenni Falconer and Lisa Vickery.
By 11:00am, we were off! The Commitments opened the show with a spectacular medley of their great soul classics, including the biggest crowd pleaser, Mustang Sally. From that point on we were just shifting from one brilliant performance to another, the first major highlight occurring when Wicked’s Emma Hatton bravely took to the Canada Water rooftop to belt out Defying Gravity. The crowd fell silent as we all stood, looking up in awe, bewildered by Emma’s stunning vocals as well as the monumental amount of courage it must have taken to get up there! By the time she reached the penultimate high note of the song, rapturous applause was occurring beneath her, with screams reaching a deafening height.
But the atmosphere did not take a dip after Hatton’s exit, for we were greeted by the sheer rock and roll that was Sunny Afternoon’s performance. Playing their show’s end medley of Lola/You Really Got Me/All Day and All Of The Night, the cast simply shone onstage as they both engaged the crowd and took us to incredible heights with the energy they put into every moment of their performance.
Other musicals that received popular reception included: Miss Saigon, Memphis The Musical, Les Miserables and Jersey Boys.
However, there were other performances that suffered in comparison to the aforementioned ones. Shrek The Musical saw a technical fault occur, which although completely out of their control, saw depletion in the atmosphere. But being the faithful crowd that we were, we continued to sing I’m A Believer alongside them as they confidently kept the performance going. The antics continued to stay at a minimum as we were greeted with the more family-friendly productions of Elf The Musical, Stiles’ and Drewe’s The 3 Little Pigs and Impossible.
Then, the rain came. Umbrellas were hoisted up, hoods were pulled over heads and everyone began to huddle closer together, and we were sure in need of something exciting. Cue, Stomp! The percussion-based act came at just the right moment, with their high-energy performance keeping our attentions captivated and our minds off the rain. They were literally flat on the floor by the end of their set, and how they managed to deliver us such a high quality after just finishing their matinee is a true testament to the cast’s stamina.
Finally, the day was brought to a close by the ever-reliable talent of the cast of Let It Be. By the time the four lads emerged, guitars in hand, we didn’t care about the rain anymore we were just happy to be belting out Hey Jude.