West End Bares 2015 – Take Off – Café De Paris

Darren Bell

Beverley Knight in West End Bares 2015 – Take Off at the Cafe De Paris, London. Picture: Darren Bell

West End Bares 2015 – Take Off was performed at the Café De Paris, London.

Rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

It’s hard to believe that West End Bares is already in its sixth year, so thanks to director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell for importing the project from Broadway to London like he has just done with Kinky Boots.

Growing stronger and building its audience each year, the highly anticipated charity evening at the Café De Paris (raising money for TheatreMAD – Make A Difference Trust) was this year entitled Take Off, allowing the theme to focus on everything related to flying and taking off… especially clothing of course.

Starting off appropriately with ‘Jet Set’, a number from Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can (another show that Mitchell choreographed), the 2016 edition of West End Bares took its packed audience on a 75-minute bumpy, thrilling ride – minus the seat belts – since there were actually no seats except for the VIPs!

Who cares if they were some occasional lapses in-between the numbers, as each of them, brilliantly choreographed by a roster of West End’s best including Racky Plews (who staged the current revival of American Idiot at the Arts Theatre), was a crowd-pleasing showstopper.

Host Graham Norton got the evening off to a great start, and continued to do an excellent job of introducing all the performers and which show they were from.

The Supreme Fabulettes, choreographed by Ashley Wallen, gave us a welcome drag interlude, as did Ru Paul’s Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio, but the icing on the cake was the special appearance of recording artist and West End performer Beverley Knight. The Memphis star’s roof-raising finale was choreographed by Ryan-Lee Seager.

Some brilliant aerial work from Miss Saigon cast members was another highlight of this highly entertaining evening which, like the Australian revue Briefs across the Thames, delivers so much more than just the guilty delight of stripping.

So much work, energy and talent are put into this one-night performance for the benefit of the Make A Difference Trust and its vision of a world free from HIV and AIDS, that we can never applaud enough. Long live West End Bares!

Patrick Honoré



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