REVIEW: West End Live 2017
| By Kay Johal
What a Weekend in the West End!
Trafalgar Square in London is always a beautiful spot. This weekend it hosted the ever popular West End Live which I attended. West End Live is the confluence of musical theatre, a free event that is always over-subscribed and this year was no different, the queues snaked their way around the fountain and the sun kept it's hat on. It's the perfect event for those new to theatre and wanting to have a taster of what's available before seeing a show; a chance for seasoned theatre-goers to see their favourite performer and finally for everyone to have a good time. If you are lucky you also get to meet your actor/actress of choice.
I set out below my top five highlights of West End Live 2017:
1. Les Miserables
I am glad that they decided to Bring Him Home. Fresh from a stint on Broadway, Killian Donnelly made a welcome return back England and a residency at the Queens theatre. Although that is where Valjean starts his story, of sorts. Carly Stenson also silenced the critics with her sweet, innocent and naïve portrayal as Fantine. I did indeed dream a dream with this cast. Find out more about Les Miserables here.
2. 42nd Street
Ah, Peggy Sawyer and her visions of success. Diminutive in stature, but damn, those feet that tap. Clare Halse is a delight to watch. I am fan of this show particularly as it allows you to believe in your hopes and aspirations. This is the ultimate feel-good trip to the theatre, and is playing at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. You can't do anything but move your feet to the beat! Find out more about 42nd Street here.
The musical is based on Berry Gordy's autobiography To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown (1994). Featuring all the hits from the names and voices we love, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, The Jackson Five, the list is endless. Motown the Musical is running at the Shaftesbury Theatre. I was shimmying and grooving away, along with the entire cast and audience. The choreography was slickly put together and if dancing is your thing - get thee down to the Shaftesbury, pronto! Find out more about Motown here.
4. Mamma Mia!
Bringing ABBA joy to the masses since 1999 at the Novello Theatre, there aren’t many people who can't name a song. With a recent cast change and tunes including Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Take a Chance and of course Mamma Mia, this really is a show that needs no introduction. It is always joyous to see Mark Isherwood in character, and having moved seamlessly from one jukebox musical to another, he manages to show how multifaceted he is. Find out more about Mamma Mia! here.
5. The Phantom of the Opera
Another long running show, and my current favourite in the West End. Phantom is over 30 years old and still draws the crowds daily. This is one show that it is hard to get tickets on the spot for. Ben Forster and Celinde Schoenmaker combine their dulcet, sublime tones and what a melting pot it is. Ben portrays the Phantom with such twisted torment that it appears to be second nature. The beauty of Celinde lies not only in her voice, but in soul. Find out more about The Phantom of the Opera here.
All tickets are available from London Theatre Direct.