West End Musical Celebration Live at The Palace Theatre
It is no secret that I fan girl over numerous West End stars almost as much as I did over Backstreet Boys in my teenage years. Combine my love of these talented performers with the fact that theatres have been dark for a year you will begin to understand why I was so excited about West End Musical Celebration, a show packed full of top calibre West End Stars.
The show features Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Ben Forster, Rachel John, Shanay Holmes, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Layton Williams as well as a troupe of 6 dancers, backing vocalists and a live band. In terms of billing for a concert like this you really couldn’t ask for much more.
The show was hosted (and produced) by Shanay Holmes. Shanay was clearly thrilled to be not only back on stage but producing the show and her excitement was infectious as she encouraged the audience to cheer, clap, sing and dance along. The audience didn’t need a huge amount of encouragement and were clapping along right from the very start.
The programme varied hugely in style but one thing that was consistent was it gave the audience exactly what it wanted. Alice Fearn singing Defying Gravity – tick, Trevor Dion Nichols singing Friend Like Me – tick, Layton Williams performing Don’t Even Know It – tick, Ben Forster singing Music of the Night – tick and I could go on. The performers were more than happy to embrace the songs and shows they are known for and after a year of theatres being closed it paid off and even resulted in a standing ovation for Alice Fearn.
However the numbers weren’t all obvious choices. I particularly liked Rachel John’s performance of ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade,’ after Shanay gave a short speech about black lives matter and how the West End is gradually beginning to have conversations that have been needed for many years. Traditionally Fanny Brice would not be a role that you would expect to see a black woman play but when Rachel John sang ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ I would be surprised if ahead the next revival we don’t see a petition for her to play the role!!
There were other wonderful surprises with Layton Williams slaying ‘Bad Romance’ from the upcoming Moulin Rouge, Sophie Evans and Trevor Dion Nichols beautiful rendition of ‘Suddenly Seymour’ and Ben Forster singing ‘Waving Through A Window.’ In describing these performers I really am running out of superlatives but I lost count of the amount of times I had to pick my jaw up of the floor or how many times I realised I was shaking my head in disbelief at the amount of talent on that stage.
I must also mention the dance talent on stage who appeared in several numbers and the choreography by Ben Davies. Their dances felt fresh and rather than trying to copy any of the original choreography of the shows that the songs may have come from they were all brilliantly original. The dancers themselves performed with such vibrancy and it was wonderful to see some of them making their West End debut.
West End Musical Celebration genuinely is a real celebration and does what is says on the tin (or at least the poster). With a set list that ticks all the boxes and a cast that leaves your jaw on the floor this show is a perfect demonstration of just why the hole in our hearts is so huge when theatres are closed and makes us all wonder just how we survived this long without that joy the cast brought to the stage.
West End Musical Celebration is running until 13th June. You can find out more and book tickets here.