West End Eurovision 2018 at Shaftesbury Theatre

WEST END EUROVISION WINNERS! The Phantom of the Opera perform RISE LIKE A PHOENIX Photo Darren Bell
WEST END EUROVISION WINNERS! The Phantom of the Opera perform RISE LIKE A PHOENIX Photo Darren Bell

A fantastic night at West End Eurovision 2018! After a 4 year hiatus, the event has returned with aplomb, replete with sparkles, tons of glitter, pyrotechnics galore, high camp and way-way over the top performances. Perfect!

One nighters such as this are often plagued with technical problems, continuity issues and ‘eggy moments’ so huge congratulations to the technicians, backstage crew and creative team for producing a really top quality show with great sound and lighting, a first-class compare, entertaining judges and a superb band led by Matheson Bayley.

West End Eurovision is a fundraising event produced by TheatreMAD in aid of the ‘Make A Difference Trust’ which has been raising funds for 30 years for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and their work makes an enormous difference to so many. There was a real buzz of anticipation in the theatre before the show began and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Hosted and expertly led and with brilliant wit by Richard Gauntlett, 8 West End shows competed against each other performing their own interpretations of original Eurovision songs and were then judged by celebrity judges, their fellow competitors and we the audience (whose votes count for twice as many as the judges ~ quite right!).

The three celebrity judges were also on top ‘quip’ form with comedian Tom Allen particularly hilarious with his deadpan humour, and actor John Partridge and dance diva Arlene Phillips on top quip form also.

It was all huge fun. HAMILTON opened the show with an entertaining but fairly understated performance of Denmark’s 2014 forgotten ‘Cliché Love Song’. They were immediately upstaged by a very fabulous Euro Heaven version of Sweden’s winning 1999 entry ‘Take Me To Your Heaven’ by YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN complete with angel wings and a quick on-stage costume change – definitely channeling real Eurovision. 42nd STREET took to the stage in a samba version of Lulu’s 1969 winning UK hit ‘Boom Bang A Bang’ which raised the roof when their secret weapon Lulu herself joined them halfway through and upstaged them all! If you’ve got it you might as well flaunt it indeed!


KINKY BOOTS followed with Georgia’s 11th placed 2015 song ‘Warrior’. Their version was far more memorable with the sex being very evident in the heel, or rather the black slashed leather costumes/rainbow coloured drapes which got Arlene Philipps in particular rather excited…

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA then upped the ante with a truly bonkers, glorious, raving mad, spectacular interpretation of Conchita Wurst’s 2014 Austrian winning entry ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ involving flames, very large costumes, even larger beards, hidden dancers under very large costumes, onstage costume changes and More! This was Eurovision at it’s very FINEST and the roof of the Shaftesbury which had been raised by Lulu was now fully blown off. The judges loved it. The audience were on their feet. (There should be an immediate campaign to have this cast perform in next year’s Eurovision. We’d win outright)

DREAMGIRLS had a tough job following Phantom but sparkled away in a Diva Dance version of our very own Bucks Fizz 1981 entry (can it truly be that long ago??!) ‘Making Your Mind Up’. The entire nation loves this song and our hearts were with the Dreamgirls although we knew they couldn’t beat Phantom. Great routine though! The last two performances were from previous West End Eurovision winners MAMMA MIA performing a slick though strangely familiar Mamma Mia dreamlike interpretation of Sweden’s 2014 song ‘Undo’. And then ALADDIN finished with Denmark’s 19th placed 2007 entry ‘Drama Queen’. No I don’t know why they chose that one either. It’s a mystery.

Whilst we waited for the results in high anticipation we were entertained by last year’s actual UK Eurovision gal Lucie Jones resplendent in blue sequins, who got the entire house up on their feet dancing to ‘Never Give Up On You’. Bravo Lucie! SuRie then sang this year’s UK entry ‘Storm’ before the results of West End Eurovision were revealed.

It was nail-biting stuff, especially when Hamilton had ‘nil points’ for a while – Yikes! But it soon became apparent Phantom were storming ahead and indeed they eventually won with 106 points, followed by Dreamgirls with 70, Aladdin 60, Young Frankenstein 50, 42nd Street bizarrely got 42(!), Kinky Boots 38, Mamma Mia 32 and last (unusually for them!) Hamilton with 24. Graham Norton presented the tall and very heavy trophy to a triumphant Phantom cast and the audience all roared approval as PHANTOM OF THE OPERA reprised their bonkers mad interpretation. Fantabulous stuff!

A very brilliant evening’s entertainment all round, raising funds for MAD, bringing Eurovision craziness to the heart of the West End! Don’t leave it another 4 years this time!

5 Stars

By Catherine Françoise

The final result:
1. The Phantom of the Opera – 106 votes
2. Dreamgirls – 70 votes
3. Aladdin – 60 votes
4. Young Frankenstein – 50 votes
5. 42nd Street – 42 votes
6. Kinky Boots – 38 votes
7. Mamma Mia – 32 votes
8. Hamilton – 24 votes