Steffi Geischer gives her overview of this year’s West End LIVE.
West End LIVE is without a doubt the biggest theatre-related free event in London. I remember my first visits back in 2009 and 2010 before it was moved to Trafalgar Square. Although Leicester Square was packed all weekend, in those years West End LIVE was still more of an insider tip and not the mass spectacle it is today.
These days, thousands of people fill Trafalgar Square on both Saturday and Sunday to watch performances from the biggest musicals in town and catch a glimpse of some of the stars of the West End.
Traditionally Saturday is the main day for musical theatre performances, although several shows appeared on both this time including The Commitments, Matilda the Musical, Billy Elliot and Jersey Boys.
Judging from the audience’s reaction, The Commitments, Jersey Boys, Miss Saigon, Wicked and Les Miserables were the biggest crowd-pleasers at this year’s event.
My personal favourites were The Commitments, Once, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Miss Saigon, the latter mainly because it was my first chance to listen to some songs from this new production of the iconic musical. Besides this, it was great to see the new cast of Les Miserables with a medley from the show (‘On My Own’, ‘Bring Him Home’, ‘One Day More’). Their performance has certainly made me want to see the show again.
I have read a few reviews in which people complained about the amount of understudies at this year’s West End LIVE. The only thing I have to say to that is all of them did a wonderful job. I was especially impressed by Ian McIntosh’s Deco (The Commitments) – no one would have guessed he wasn’t the main lead.
It was great to see the advertised schedule actually working out time-wise – I remember years where performances were running 15 to 30 minutes behind. I’d also like to thank the presenters who were entertaining without talking too much! The one thing I would have liked to see were little interviews on stage with a few of the performers, but that really is a small complaint.
West End LIVE remains an event every musical theatre fan should mark in their diary. Where else can you see the most popular shows in town and some of the most talented people in the West End perform for free? So, if you didn’t make it this year, watch out for West End LIVE 2015 and go support your favourite West End shows and performers on a (hopefully) sunny weekend in June. And if you were there this year, come back in 2015!
* West End LIVE in association with MasterCard celebrated its tenth birthday this year and was organised by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre.
See a host of fantastic images below taken during the West End LIVE weekend by Musical Theatre Review’s official photographer ROY TAN.