It’s getting near to the end of February, and this is about the time I start putting together a ‘preview’ list of the best plays and musicals opening in the West End the coming month as a recommended guide of sorts for theatre fans.
I’ve often said that a well-staged cabaret or concert can be just as enriching an experience as a West End show, which got me to thinking: why not begin by highlighting a couple of such concerts and cabarets which are also coming up in March?
One of the big draws of these events is the far-more intimate performances they offer. Each is unique in its own way, but all give the audience an hour or two of unrivalled entertainment in which they can enjoy stars from the West End stage up close and personal; its an unmissable opportunity fro any theatre fan.
One upcoming event I’d happily recommend to readers is the cabaret night set to take place at the Arts Theatre on the first day of spring. Sunday In The Arts With… is the new monthly cabaret series being staged at the West End venue, ‘featuring the best talent London has to offer.’ Anyone who appreciates musical theatre will appreciate this too, as the theatre is offering its stage to an exciting line-up of West End performers who have been seen all over Theatreland in shows from Chicago to Wicked. The March cabaret features: Katie Paine, Matthew Croke, Kieran Brown and Michelle Pentecost.
Katie Paine is an international stage star who has performed in the US on multiple occasions, appearing as a lead vocalist for such events as Love Songs From Broadway. Here in the UK, she has been involved in numerous West End shows, such as playing Morgan in Godspell at the Lyric Theatre and understudying the principal role of Killer Queen in the smash-hit musical, We Will Rock You, at the Dominion Theatre.
Matthew Croke is a well-known face in the West End, having appeared in Singin’ in the Rain at the Palace Theatre, Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre and Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre. Having previously performed in the ensemble ranks of Wicked, he rejoined the award-winning West End musical and can currently be found at the Apollo Victoria, where he understudies the lead male role of Fiyero.
Kieran Brown is a West End leading man in the making. The highly talented actor has starred in Les Miserables at the Palace Theatre, Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre, and Wicked at the Apollo Victoria, in addition to playing the title role in the UK première of Maury Yeston’s Phantom. After appearing in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom sequel and leading Yeston’s version of Gaston Leroux’s classic story, he continued his Phantom journey by joining the company of the long-running West End production of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. His role as a Swing in the show has led to him performing a variety of male roles on-stage, including the star role of The Phantom, which he has played on many occasions to great acclaim.
Michelle Pentecost has toured extensively in the course of her career on the stage, having been involved in such shows as Paradise Moscow (UK and European Tour) and Annie (UK and Ireland Tour). She has also appeared in the West End in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria, where she was understudy for the lead female role of Elphaba. Most recently, she was seen performing as Alternate Eva in the hit production of Evita at the Dominion Theatre.
Sunday In The Arts With… is hosted by Anthony Williamson and Emma Ralston, and takes place at the Arts Theatre on Sunday 1st March 2015.
Also in March, West End Has Faith returns to share a little more music and inspiration for the benefit of the charity Tearfund, and this time, the concert series is on tour! West End Has Faith is a fundraising organisation featuring Christian performers from the West End stage performing songs of praise and worship in concert, founded by Katy Treharne (Phantom of the Opera, Dear World, Love Beyond) and David Birch (Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory). The group raise awareness of the Christian faith and money for Tearfund through their events, the most recent of which was the Christmas concert, Incarnation, at St Sepulchre’s Church, Holborn on 7th December 2014. Now, in their first event of 2015, West End Has Faith presents the Speechless Tour, which plays five dates throughout March and features a star cast from such West End shows as The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Barnum, as they ‘take a journey through amazing songs and encouraging stories to discover how God is moving powerfully in some of the poorest places on Earth.’ The first concert performance takes place All Hallows Church in Twickenham on Saturday 7th March 2015, before going on to visit Bridge Chapel in Liverpool (Wednesday 18th March), Lifespring Church in Reading (Saturday 21st March) and St Martin in the Bull Ring in Birmingham (Friday 27th March), finishing up at South Parade Baptist Church in Leeds on Saturday 28th March). Already named in the line-up are John Jack (Phantom of the Opera), who will be performing all five dates of the tour, and Katy Shorten (Les Miserables), who will be appearing in Reading, Birmingham and Leeds only, with more names still to be announced. Further details can be found through the group’s Twitter account: @WestEndHasFaith.
The West End Has Faith events support Tearfund, the Christian relief and development charity, with a particular focus on the issue of child trafficking. Proceeds from the concert tour will go towards the charity’s trafficking prevention work, No Child Taken. An evening combining entertainment and music with awareness and information, Speechless is a must-see concert event that brings the audience close to some of the biggest and best West End stars, in terms of both proximity and spirituality.
There are always a variety of top-notch musical theatre concerts and cabarets to be found in and around London, and these two events are wonderful examples of that. Go. See. Be amazed!
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 24th February 2015