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Stars and future stars celebrated in the West End last Sunday at The Criterion Theatre, normally home to The 39 Steps in a musical extravaganza devoted to celebrating the best of British musicals past and present and the contribution by UK composers.  The fund raising concert was hosted by Stephen Fry and featured an array of stars who came out in support of Perfect Pitch.

Performers featured on the night included Steven Webb, Sophia Ragavelas, Jack Shalloo, Dougal Irvine, Paul Keating, Emma Barton, Peter Polycarpou, Emma Williams, Hadley Fraser, John Addison, Julie Atherton, Stuart Matthew Price, Michael Xavier and Alfie Boe.

Host Stephen Fry is no stranger to the West End.  He himself reflects  that after a gap of twenty years he rediscovered his love of stage musicals and that he owes a lot to the form as he says it was the almost unbelieveably fortunate circumstance of being asked while still in  his 20s to update the book of Me and My Girl that gave him financial independence.

However, he didn't peform any numbers on the night.  In the lead up to the concert he twittered: "Appearing on ITV1's @Daybreak this morning to talk about musicals. The best way to do this would thru song & dance. I shan't use best way."

The performances were left to more established musical stars and was led by Paul Herbert’s musical direction of a 11 piece band and supported by young performers from the MTA.

The audience were treated to songs from shows that are currently open.  George Stiles and Anthony Drewe gave a a mini comedy routine before launching into a medley from Betty Blue Eyes including the title song and Steven Webb and Jack Shalloo gave their Long Sunday Afternoon/That Guy from Blood Brothers.

Shows that are no longer running were also featured, such as Love Story until recently at the Duchess Theatre with Emma Williams and Michael Xavier reprising Everything We Know and Jack Shalloo’s run through Picture Book from Departure Lounge was a reminder of that show’s short run at the Waterloo East Theatre last year.  Julie Atherton did the Just So medley, recently performed at her cabaret show at Trafalar Studios.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber was well-represented too, especially by Stuart Matthew Price’s Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar.

There were some fun and unexpected moments of renditions of songs, sometimes gender-flipping, such as Michael Xavier’s passionate Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers, backed by the ensemble.  Alfie Boe now starring in  Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre performed As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard and Hadley Fraser & Dougal Irvine performed a guitar-led medley from The Lion King.

The show also was looking forward to the future and the talent that is being nurtured by Perfect Pitch, represented here by Laurence Mark Wythe, Dougal Irvine and Stuart Matthew Price. Well received was Irvine’s new show The Buskers Opera featuring Do You Want A Baby Baby? performed brightly by Emma Barton, Paul Keating’s Time Will Tell from Wythe’s Through The Door and Price’s self-penned Where I Wanna Be.

Founded in 2006, Perfect Pitch runs a full artistic programme and has fully established itself on the landscape of the musical theatre genre. They focus on developing new musicals by British writers. They are developed through a series of workshops, readings, creative and dramaturgical input, showcases and production opportunities in collaboration and in partnership with theatre and non-theatre organisations around the UK.  They also actively promote our emerging writers and creatives through concerts, productions, publication and licensing of the new musicals.

[posted by Louise, 13/04/2011]

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