West End Producer – Free Willy
Who is the West End producer and what on earth is Free Willy? Well I can’t strictly answer the first part of the question as his true identity is one of Theatreland’s most closely guarded secrets. However what I do know is that he has a column for The Stage, he has written a book and even run 2 Twitter competitions to find a new star and a new composer. This year he has taken to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time to audition his new musical Free Willy. The audience become those auditioning for the ensemble and he gets a different performer in each day to audition for the Willy, the Whale.
The idea that the audience are all auditionees begins in the queue when you are greeted by West End Producer himself with labels as to your number. This was a simple but effective way of getting the audience into the spirit of things before they we even entered the show.
The show was a mixture of short extracts of new material from the new Free Willy Musical, played and sung by West End Producer and audience participation. The songs themselves, unsurprisingly had a large amount of Willy jokes and this theme ran throughout the show. The audience participation was mainly confined to the whole audience participating from their seats, displaying their best seaweed arms or dolphin noises. Whilst this started off amusing it did become slightly repetitive.
Considering West End Producers history in the business I would have liked a few more stagey jokes rather than what felt more like a stand up comedy routine that could have been performed by anyone. I would assume for the length of time he has been around he would have plenty of antidotes up his sleeve but none of these were divulged. This would have given the show a more of a personal touch which it was lacking.
The latter part of West End Producers show was spent with his special guest. On the afternoon we saw it this was Evelyn Hoskins which I was thrilled about as I am a big fan of hers! This section was amusing as we got to find out a bit more about Hoskins as well as get to see her try to make Whale noises and deliver a unique monologue. Hoskins was a great sport and deserves casting in this aquatic musical just for playing along so brilliantly.
West End Producer- Free Willy was a fun hour spent for the stagey types but adding in some more personal tit-bits or relevant on the button theatrical jokes could replace some of the audience participation and improve the show overall.
West End Producer – Free Willy is on at Assembly Checkpoint at 16:40 – 17:40. To find out more about West End Producer and his show visit his website.