I’m writing this a fair few days after the event itself. I did anticipate to blog about West End Live 2015 straight after the event, yet as my last blog post describes, I wasn’t exactly in a fit state of mind to write. Also, the last few days at university to close my first year have been MANIC! I’ve played Bo Peep in a Toy Story themed show, in which I ran around the stage discussing boys and sang ‘Something There’ from Beauty and the Beast. I’ve also played a ‘Killer Moth’ in a Batman inspired revue and acted out what is potentially the worst way I could ever have my character killed off on stage. I also sang the music of Spring Awakening with an incredibly talented cast and sang about how I was ‘Totally F****d’ in the middle of the Student Union. All of this in the space of 5 hours. What a busy bee.
But, before I fully immersed myself in the phenomena that is ‘Warwick Student Arts Festival’, I made my way down to London from university once again to go to one of my favourite events of the year. West End Live is an annual event, which originally took place in Leicester Square, but due to the sheer size and popularity, has now moved to Trafalgar Square. In my opinion, the scale of the event has reached gigantic heights, and I see the long term future of this event moving to Regent’s Park or Hyde Park in order to accommodate everyone. West End Live allows many musicals currently running in the West End, as well as plays, stage schools and operas to display their show in an attempt to encourage potential customers to buy tickets. While many people go down to the event to soak up ‘Theatre Land’, I went down in order to support some of my friends in the main troupe of West End Kids. It was just such a lovely day! I also met up with some of my friends from home and other parts of the country that I had previously performed with through the West End Kids training companies, and it was great to catch up, be in their company once again, but on the whole feel like a tiny person (thanks Roisin).
I got down to Trafalgar Square for 12:20, and with Leanne and Alleisha, managed to be at the front for about 13:00! A few years of going to this event makes you a professional at finding sneaky gaps in order to get closer to the stage, and we smashed it. Well done team. Before West End Kids came on, we watched many musicals perform. The musical I was most looking forward to watching was Memphis the Musical! Set in 1950’s America, it addresses issues of racism within society, and I was very much looking forward to seeing and hearing the song ‘Steal Your Rock and Roll’ performed. Sadly, this number was not done, leaving Alleisha and I baffled and upset, contemplating just how much we truly love that song. However, we saw the understudy for Beverley Knight perform, and she was just incredible! The natural ease oozing from her voice, with the vibrato and deep bluesy Tennessee south singing put the whole of the 20,000 strong audience into the palm of her hand. I also particularly enjoyed Matt Cardle’s performance! Having won the X Factor, Matt has now entered a new pathway of performing. In my opinion, Matt could have slightly more stage presence, but the casting of Matt Cardle was particularly clever. He was able to translate the story behind the song considerably better than the majority of performances during the day, and he has definitely got himself a potential ticketbuyer in me! (I just need Mum to pay the £100 or so for two tickets and then I’m there).
As well as Memphis, I particularly enjoyed the Jersey Boys. An absolute crowd favourite for everyone, the Jersey Boys got everyone singing classics such as ‘Oh What a Night’, ‘Sherry’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’. Because of the Jersey Boys performance, I am contemplating the idea of creating a revue-style performance for next year’s Warwick Student Arts Festival, as the show is considerably easier to put on than many other musicals which performed during the day. Yet, the easiness of the show is perfect for the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the show. The Jersey Boys are also very, very handsome, in particular the one that stood fourth in line (furthest away from me of course). Similarly, the cast of Let It Be were easily able to rally up the whole audience. The ‘Beatles’ got everyone singing their classics such as Day Tripper, Hey Jude and got us twisting and shouting in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Did we break a world record? Who knows? I wish we did…
Avenue Q also performed, which made me feel nostalgic, as just a few weeks ago I was performing with my Kate Monster puppets by my side. I thought their song choices of ‘Life Outside Your Apartment’ and ‘Schadenfreude’ were interesting, given in mind the event has to be politically correct as well as PG, however the initial apprehensions I had were put to rest with ‘Ah’ being used instead of ‘s**t’. But, with this, the true story and meaning behind the musical was not exuded, and instead of watching the show with excitement, I felt slightly alienated (and jealous that the professionals were holding MY puppet!)
Finally, it got to 4:10 and West End Kids came on. Their set list was based on Jerry Herman and old style show tunes and glamour, featuring musical classics such as ‘Mame’, ‘Hello Dolly’ and ‘Before the Parade Passes By’. I felt very wistful during the latter number, as this was the first ever routine I learned whilst in WEK: Training, and was performing the choreography all whilst being WEK’s unofficial jumping photographer and cheering on my friends. The company are just so precise, and they are truly whipped into shape by both Martin and Emma Williams into what someone working on the West End experiences every day. I just know that many of them will go onto great things, in particular Tanya Bailey whose end note of ‘Before the Parade Passes By’ rivalled the singing of Amelia Lily performing for American Idiot the Musical. What a gal.
After West End Kids performed, I watched the Showstoppers Improvised Musical, in which it was set on the moon, with an alien with suction pads and songs performed in the style of Miss Saigon and Mary Poppins. There was also a very odd performance from the cast of Briefs, which, let’s just say didn’t excite me enough to see the show. After these, the West End Cabaret performed. This cabaret featured the cast of Louise Dearman, Mark Evans, Oliver Tompsett performing with ‘Flock of Cages’ and many others. We were treated to a delightful performance of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ in which we had to sing along. Being the stagey self I am, I harmonised in perfect tune which got others around me jealous. Sorry not sorry. I just like singing the third above all the time.
But the true finale was Lord of The Dance: Dangerous Games, created by the star that is Michael Flatley. This show was truly phenomenal, and a perfect way to close the day! The talent on that stage was mindblogging, and the way in which the dancers moved their feet was awestriking. Also, all of the girl’s physique were just beautiful. None too skinny or too fat, all in perfect shape with a six pack and delightful smile to boot. I immediately felt body-conscious, they were dancing Victoria’s Secret Angels. I have asked Mum to purchase tickets for this show, as it was just too good and I need to see it!
So clearly, West End Live 2015 was a wonderful day, and I can’t wait to see what next year’s festival has in store. Hopefully, me singing on stage. Lol. I’m joking. The song that I’m choosing to sum up this year’s festival isn’t actually a song. It’s the performance that West End Kids gave, as it’s wonderful, and I’m proud to call many of these my friends. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3us1Emi6So8
(P.S, if you want to follow the people I’ve mentioned in this post on Twitter, please do:
West End Kids: @WestEndKids
Louise Dearman: @LouiseDearman
Mark Evans: @MarkHEvans
Oliver Tompsett: @Ozziology