West End Live 2015: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

June 20, 2015 0 By Bethanie

So, for anyone who is unaware, West End Live is a free theatre showcase/festival held in Trafalgar Square, London, where all of the shows currently running on the West End, as invited to perform their repertoire’s. It is generally a good experience for theatre lovers, however, it is also to raise the profile of theatre to those who potentially may not visit the theatre, hence why the festival is free, I suppose some may call it a “Try before you buy” kind of experience, a test drive of the theatre.

Having now had the chance to sit down and review the days performances, I thought I would share my review with everyone here, Just so that everyone gets a sense of what WEL is all about.

The schedule of the day was that each show got a 15 minute slot, with the big 4 musicals (Wicked, Miss Saigon, Phantom & Les Mis) all headlining around lunch time, starting with Wicked at 11.40.

So I suppose it would be fitting to start with Wicked as they were the first company of the big 4 to perform, and what a tough act they were to follow! Emma Hatton (resident Elphaba) sang not from a conventional stage, but FROM A ROOFTOP, talk about Defying Gravity all right! This was absolutely sensational! My mind was literally blown to pieces when I saw this, props to Wicked for thinking outside of the stage!

Moving swiftly on to the next in the schedule, Miss Saigon, this I’ll be honest, had me less impressed than some literal defying gravity. I don’t know why they did it, but they opened with Bui-Doi, okay so I do know why they did it, they did it because it’s arguably the best song in the entire musical, IF you have the right person singing it. However, this rendition, much like the first time I heard it, had me feeling as if I were watching a gospel choir, and not one of the most heartbreaking musicals of musical history, the song is meant to show deep emotional connection, not make you want to bop along with John at the end, clicking your fingers along to the beat.

Now, for a happy note! My one true love, Phantom Of The Opera! Phantom took an abstract approach, opening with Music Of The Night, as opposed to Phantom itself, and also, surprisingly, standby Phantom Scott Davies taking the role of Phantom as opposed to Geronimo Rauch (however this could be due to the Phantom Matinee taking place at the time as well), however, Phantom, I cannot fault, I was in awe. I would have quite like Geronimo to have been Phantom for the event, however Scott Davies is phenomenal also, so I cannot complain really.

Les Misérables, oh Les Mis, how I adore you so! Les Mis opened with I Dreamed A Dream, which was a smart move seeing as they followed Phantom in the running order, however this does mean that they started out big and if I do say so they smashed it! Rachel Ann Go as Fantine is arguably one of the best things I have ever seen! I was nearly in tears. and then, to top it off, the second song within the set was Bring Him Home, just when I thought I was safe, out pops another tear jerker. The emotion poured throughout the set was amazing, you just wanted to cry your heart out by the end of it. I genuinely take my hat off to the company of Les Misérables for managing to perform without bursting into tears, as that must be a very difficult task!

Other sets within the day included:
“Elf: The Musical” – This has mentally left me unable to think, This production has replaced WWRY at the Dominion, and I really cannot understand why, please, petition to bring back WWRY anyone?
“The Commitments” – Overall not too bad to be honest, I think it is a show that needs more attention paying to it. 
“Charlie & The Chocolate Factory”  – I’ve heard mixed reviews of this in theatre, however this performance is definitely very “razzle dazzle”, If Jon Jon Briones ever felt the need to leave Miss Saigon, I think he would make a good Willy Wonka, however, I am not stuck on C&TCF, I could argue that this musical has ruined two of my favourite films from childhood, and left me feeling quite scared to be 100% honest.
“Billy Elliot” – I don’t know the musical well enough to comment, however, I have now added Billy to the must see list! Despite the defiling of Thatcher within the musical, I am intrigued to see more! 
So, I have reached the end of the noteworthy reviews.
West End Live 2016 is definitely a must! 
Thank you for reading!