It was a last minute decision to go to West End Does The Magic Of Animation at Cadagon Hall last Sunday, but since it was announced I’d been interested. Celebrating the music of Disney and other animated favourites, nine West End stars gathered to sing the hits from classic films such as The Little Mermaid and Hercules, and more recent favourites including Frozen and Moana.
West End Does is a new series of concerts, led by artistic director Rob Houchen. After meeting a young girl supported by the Make A Wish Foundation during his time in Les Miserables, he wanted to give back to the charity. The Magic Of Animation is the first in a series of concerts, with three more booked in before the year is out.
Beginning with the classic Disney overture, Alex Parker served as conductor for the orchestra and 8 piece choir, as well as being musical director, before Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon, Les Mis), Celinde Schoenmaker (Les Mis, Phantom Of The Opera), and Danielle Hope (The Wizard Of Oz) kicked off the evening with a Pocahontas trio. The first act, absolutely flew by with performances from Fra Fee (Les Mis, The Ferryman) and Rachel Tucker (Wicked, The Last Ship) adding to the mix.
But it was the second act that made my heart soar. Rob Houchen (Les Mis, Titanic) and Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les Mis, The Addams Family) began the second act with a beautiful rendition of Beauty & The Beast with an added dance break before Bradley Jaden (Wicked, Les Mis) brought the house down with You’re Welcome from Moana. Joint with Marisha Wallace (Dreamgirls) singing Zero To Hero, that was my favourite number in the performance. She brought her A-game and got everyone clapping along. All the acts were dressed to the nines, and clearly had a ball. It was brilliant to see them have fun singing songs from the movies, away from the characters we often see them hiding behind on the West End Stage.
Overture – Choir
Pocahontas Trio – Eva Noblezada, Celinde Schoenmaker, Daniele Hope
Better Bradley Jaden
When Will My Life Begin – Celinde Schoenmaker
Through The Light – Celinde Schoenmaker & Fra Fee
Reflection – Eva Noblezada
Once Upon A December – Choir
Journey To The Past – Carrie Hope Fletcher
Proud Of Your Boy – Rob Houchen
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes – Danielle Hope
Let It Go – Rachel Tucker
Beauty & The Beast – Carrie Hope Fletcher & Rob Houchen
You’re Welcome – Bradley Jaden
How Far I’ll Go – Eva Noblezada
I Won’t Say I’m In Love – Danielle Hope
Zero To Hero – Marisha Wallace
Go The Distance – Rob Houcehn
The Prayer – Bradley & Rachel Tucker
Out There – Fra Fee
Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Carrie Hope Fletcher
Part Of Your World – Rachel Tucker
Rob Houchen & Marisha Wallace
I personally thought the set list was a little odd, especially since three of the songs from Carrie Hope Fletcher’s album featured, but she just sang one song. It was also a little sad to see that so many well-known songs weren’t so well-known by the cast. But on the other hand, some very obscure songs were picked too. With no big closing number, the show had a little bit of a sad ending for me. The idea of Disney songs in concert is fun, but there are only so many times I can hear a similar sounding ballad before they all start to merge into one.
My other major complaint was the use, or lack, of Christopher Biggins acting as compere, I think he was desperately underutilised. To the point where there was no point in him being there. He didn’t introduce every single act, only had a couple of jokes here and there, and might as well have just been a part of the audience.
Whilst I wish I’d have only bought a £25 seat rather than a £35 seat (I don’t think my seat was worth £10 more than what the people paid at the back), that’s my own fault for not biting the bullet sooner. So I couldn’t miss out on the next show, and have already booked myself a ticket for the performance in the summer!
West End Does returns on 1st July with West End Does Bond at Leicester Square Theatre. Tickets are available now.