West End Live

Last Weekend I decided to attend West End Live for the first time. As a theatre lover I am not entirely sure why I haven‘t made the trip before as the theatrical extravaganza is now a well-publicised annual event. West End Live showcases London’s musicals and as it is free to attend, it promised to be a great way to catch up with some favourite shows and to grab a preview of new productions.

Arrive Early

West End Live has now been running for ten years.  It used to be staged in Leicester Square but the redevelopment of the area and the huge numbers attending the production forced a move to Trafalgar Square. The event runs over two days and each day the West Shows take to the stage in turn to perform one or more numbers. There is no charge to see the action but the square can quickly fill up leaving latecomers having to queue to gain access which they can only do when people start to leave.

The Performances

I arrived around 45 minutes before the scheduled start time to find just about the longest queue I have ever seen. I feared that I would not make it into the square but I needn’t have worried as I made it with plenty of room to spare but only as the first performance was about to start. That turned out to be The Commitments who got things underway with a high energy delivery of Mustang Sally and a medley of other songs.

I was then treated to a succession of delights with the highlights for me being a lengthy set by the cast of Thriller Live and a quite excellent sampler from Mama Mia. If I hadn’t already seen both shows more than once I would have been running to the ticket office immediately!  I was impressed with what I saw of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Forbidden Broadway and have resolved to see those shows soon. The biggest hit with the crowd was a medley from The Jersey Boys which I greatly enjoyed.  Apparently their rousing interlude is always a highlight. It was disappointing that there were only short segments from Phantom of the Opera and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, both with only two cast members, but other than that it was a fabulous way to spend a summer day.

Be Prepared

Unlike some previous years the weather was hot and sunny and definitely more beachwear than knitwear. In previous years the conditions have not been so favourable but the hot conditions were a double edged sword. I have to confess that I stupidly got burnt and I should add that the one big let -down in the organisation was the lack of drinks supplies. There was only one place to buy any liquid refreshment which, of course, you couldn’t get near. I did take drinks with me but the lack of supplies would have made it difficult for anyone to stay in the square all day and with entertainment that good that is exactly what many people would have wanted to do.

I watched the proceedings for four hours and I have to say that if you like musical theatre, West End Live is a real treat considering it is free. I would certainly like to attend the event again and would recommend it to anyone but go prepared! Refreshments and sun cream are a must unless it is raining like is normally is!

Article by Sally Stacey