I don’t need to tell you that I love the theatre, but until recently I’ve only gone to shows. But I was having a conversation with Aeron recently, and we realised that what the West End is missing is the real feel of community and fandom that Broadway has. They’ve got Broadway Con, Schmackery’s, Broadway Flea Market and their shows are always featured on television shows throughout the day. But the West End is slowly getting there, with the likes of The Theatre Cafe, West End Live and the concert series that are popping up all over the place. Seriously, I think most Sundays this month there has been something for theatre lovers to attend. And one of those concerts was West End Live Lounge.
West End Live Lounge was founded by Sean McCourt and has gone from strength to strength ever since, with each performance selling out quicker than the last, even with expanding venues. All proceeds were donated to Centrepoint, a charity set up to rehabilitate young people who have found themselves on the streets. Instead of finding them a bed for a night, or perhaps a week, Centrepoint give these vulnerable young people the chance to make something off themselves and get off the streets for good through transferable skills.
Most shows like West End Live Lounge tend to have a theme to stop the creatives singing whatever they fancy, and last Sunday’s theme of choice was UK and US number one hits. With modern artists such as Sam Smith, Bruno Mars and well-known classics by Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and being covered, there was something for everyone. West End List Loung was hosted by Paul Taylor Mills and Vikki Stone, artistic director of The Other Palace and comedienne respectively, who brought out some cracking jokes through the evening. The seven piece band conducted by Sam Coates (also responsible for the arrangements) were something really special, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the two-piece string section. They were brilliant!
There was a huge variety of performances from cast members of a number of West End Shows. Whilst the lineup changes with each concert, there’s a whole host of talent to feast your eyes on every time. This time, we were treated to vocals from Kelly Agbowu (The Book of Mormon), Moya Angela (Dreamgirls), Paul Ayres (Kinky Boots), Adam Bailey (Priscilla Queen Of The Desert), Andrew Bateup (Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Christina Bennington (Bat Out Of Hell), Zoe Birkett (The Bodyguard), Kit Esuroso (Tina The Musical), Stacy Francis (The X Factor USA), Natalie Green (Hair), Lisa Marie Holmes (Rent), Joel Harper Jackson (Jesus Christ Superstar), Jodie Jacobs (Rock Of Ages), Sejal Keshwala (Bend It Like Beckham), Liisi LaFontaine (Dreamgirls), Rebekah Lowings (Dick Whittington), Christna Modestou (In The Heights), Andrew Polec (Bat Out Of Hell), Liam Tamne (Phantom Of The Opera), Laura Tebbutt (Les Miserables) and Ruben Van Keer (Bat Out Of Hell).
You always run the risk of attending these sorts of shows and half the featured cast don’t show up as it’s always subject to availability. I was disappointed that Rob Houchen and Marisha Wallace pulled out after seeing them perform so brilliantly at West End Does The Magic Of Animation the week before, and I adored Danielle Steers at the Bat Out Of Hell press launch in March and she also pulled out. Bat fans weren’t left disappointed though as Andrew Polec worked the crowd with his rendition of Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer in the first act, and then performed a duet with co-star Christina Bennington singing Bring Me To Life by Evanesence. Other performances I adored included Jodie Jacobs’ rendition of Great Balls of Fire, Joel Harper Jackson’s Lay Me Down, Adam Bailey singing Run, and Divalution’s medley of songs from the nineties and noughties. But it was very difficult not to enjoy any of the performances!
Kelly Agbowu & Natalie Green – Titanium by Sia & David Guetta
Kit Esuruos – Lean On Me by Bill Withers
Lisa Marie Holmes – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Carole King
Ruben Van Keer – Tell Me How Am I Supposed To Live Without You by Michael Bolton
Zoe Birkett – Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia
Jodie Jacobs – Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis
Paul Ayres – Let Me Be Your Fantasy by Baby D
Adam Bailey – Run by Snow Patrol
Stacy Francis – All The Man That I Need by Whitney Houston
Rebekah Lowings – Power Of Love by Gabrielle Aplin
Andrew Polec – Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
Moya Angela – I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
Vikki Stone – Cotton-Eyed Joe by Rednex
Sejal Keshwala – Think by Aretha Franklin
Joel Harper Jackson – Lay Me Down by Sam Smith
Christina Modedescu – If I Were A Boy by Beyonce
Andrew Bateup – Georgia On My Mind by Ray Charles
Kelly Agbowu & Natlie Green – Impossible by James Arthur
Liisi LaFontaine – Grenade by Bruno Mars
Liam Tamne – Diamonds by Rihanna
Divalution (Laura Tebbutt, Sejal Keshwala & Lisa Marie Holmes) – 90s & 00s Medley
Stacy Francis – Purple Rain by Prince
Christina Bennington & Andrew Polec – Bring Me To Life by Evanescence
It was a marathon performance, and everyone involved should be incredibly proud! The Other Palace is such a brilliant venue for these sorts of shows as it’s a pretty intimate yet versatile space (I last visited for Eugenius). I can’t wait for the next West End Live Lounge; I’ll definitely be getting myself a ticket. And I’m also desperate to see Bat Out Of Hell after being wowed once again by Andrew Polec once again. Maybe I’ll make it next month!