I wrongly assumed that a Sunday, in London, in June, meant that I would probably need long sleeves, a denim jacket and a raincoat in my bag (just in case), but upon arriving in Trafalgar Square for West End Live, I found that this was entirely unnecessary. I also decided suncream was uncalled for, and I write this post now with a lovely big sunburn on my nose. But all this hardship was of course worth it for the wonderful, fun, free and theatrical experience that was West End Live!
This year was my first time going to West End Live and the first thing I was really surprised by was the amount of people there – the figure of 10,000 was mentioned and I can definitely believe that! Despite this we (my friend Sean and I) found it fairly easy to get a good spot near the stage and I felt that it would have been probably unnecessary to get there any earlier unless you were absolutely set on getting a place in the front row (we got there at about 10 to 12). For me I felt the day was kind of split into two parts – mostly because we decided to go for a wander during a few acts we weren’t too interested in. The first half consisted of some brilliant performances from Billy Elliot and Memphis (a show I have decided I need to go and buy a ticket for as a result of how good it was!). There were some parts which I wasn’t so keen on – the extremely long performance from Thriller Live being one – I don’t know who decided how long each show got to perform for but it seemed a bit unfair that Matilda only performed one song, yet Thriller Live seemed to stay on for about half an hour!
After Memphis we decided to go to Leicester Square (a word I’ve finally learnt how to spell!) (Leicester that is, not square) to see what was going on – a decision we immediately regretted once we realised the massive queues to get back in to Trafalgar Square. This really wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it might be, and after about a 5 minute look at what was going on we decided to go and queue to get back in to the main event. Luckily this didn’t take too long and we didn’t end up missing anything we really wanted to see. The second half of the day was where it got even more fun, starting off with a great Hairspray medley presented by the West End Masterclass. I’m not the biggest fan of the show, but luckily they sung my two favourite songs from it (Good Morning Baltimore and You Can’t Stop The Beat) and the cast was so talented I really didn’t mind. Another great singalong moment was with American Idiot who put on a brilliant performance considering they’d only had one day rehearsal. But the best part of the day by far was definitely the performance from Showstopper! The Improvised Musical. What they did defies belief (and explanation), but they took suggestions from the audience and ended up improvising a musical set on the moon and involving Neil Armstrong and an alien. It was completely ridiculous and really, really clever – I am determined to catch their show in full!
Rounding up a really fabulous day was the West End Cabaret, presented by Ben Stock and featuring West End favourites including Louise Dearman and Mark Evans. My favourite performances were definitely Ben and Caroline Sheen doing Suddenly, Seymour and the Rock Of Ages reunion with Oliver Tompsett and Simon Lipkin. After standing up for 6 hours I was not really prepared to fully commit to dancing to Don’t Stop Believin’, but I gave it my best shot!
I thoroughly enjoyed the day and will definitely try to return next year on both days – hopefully I will be better prepared for the weather!