The Dominion Theatre has been the exclusive home of Queen musical We Will Rock You for almost twelve years, but in that time, it has invited guests in from time to time to share the stage. In 2012, the fundraising event West End Eurovision moved its annual show from the Piccadilly Theatre to the Dominion and the bigger venue proved a perfect match for an event which has grown bigger and better with each and every year.
West End Eurovision returns to the Dominion Theatre this year, but just as 2014 marks the departure of We Will Rock You, it also waves goodbye to the ‘star studded eurotastic extravaganza’. Its seventh year will also be its last, going out with a ‘Boom Bang-a-bang’ on Thursday 22nd May 2014 in what may just be the biggest and best night of them all.
Last year’s event was a huge success and saw newcomer’s Once take home the trophy as the 2013 West End Eurovision winners. They are back in 2014 to defend their title and attempt to triumph over the other shows taking part this year…’once’ again. As with previous West End Eurovision events, a collection of the most popular shows in the West End gather for one night to compete against one another to become WEE champions. Each show chooses a past song from the Eurovision Song Contest and performs their own version, complete with their own staging, costumes and choreography, with the audience electing the eventual winner through means of a vote by SMS text messaging.
The shows taking part in the seventh and final West End Eurovision 2014 will be a mixture of old and new faces. Joining returning champions Once in the line-up at the Dominion Theatre this year will be Billy Elliot, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia, The Bodyguard, The Book of Mormon, The Commitments, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. The video idents from each of the participating shows were launched last week in an event hosted by Tim McArthur and are now available to view on YouTube. In addition to competing to be WEE14 champions the show’s casts will also be going head to head for the Best Ident award, which is supported by the Technical Theatre Awards, and will once again be decided by a public vote. Members of the public can view the video entries online and vote for their favourite via text message, with the added bonus of being in with a chance to win £100 of theatre tokens. There are some brilliantly imaginative videos again this year which include a guest appearance from West End Producer, hash-tagging in a ‘Blurred Lines’ homage and a lot of poking fun at John Travolta’s slip-up at the Oscars amongst the entries. At the time of writing this, Wicked was leading in viewing numbers, with The Book of Mormon and The Phantom of the Opera on their tail. With two weeks to go until the event however, the competition is still wide open.
West End Eurovision 2014 will be hosted by veteran stage and screen actor Richard Gauntlett, who did a fantastic job hosting the 2013 event. Already announced on the judging panel for this year are comedian, chat show host and Eurovision Song Contest presenter Graham Norton, along with former X Factor contestant and model Rylan Clark. As is tradition in West End Eurovision, there will also be a special appearance from a former Eurovision act and this year audiences will be treated to a performance from pop singer Sonia, who represented the UK in 1993 and came in second with her song entry ‘Better The Devil You Know’. The cast of resident show We Will Rock You will also open the event with what is sure to be a show-stopping performance.
West End Eurovision, like the event which inspired it, is all about good, camp fun and was the creation of Kevin Henry and Garry Cruickshank, who are both long-time volunteers for The Make A Difference Trust. In an interview I conducted with them in 2012, the Eurovision enthusiasts revealed their amazement at how their idea had taken off, and their commitment to MADTrust was evident as the spoke about the importance of the work the charity do, saying that: “When you see the results, it gives you a swell of pride that you’ve been a part of that.” Proceeds from WEE go to MADTrust, which is also behind the other highly popular annual event West End Bares and further fundraising projects such as A West End Christmas. The charity is the entertainment industry’s response to HIV and AIDS, providing practical support and prevention services across the UK and Southern Africa, as well as providing specialist support for entertainment industry professionals experiencing hardship due to a chronic health condition. MADTrust has been raising money and helping people for over twenty years now (under several name changes) and its tried and tested format of fundraising through means of entertainment has resulted in ever-increasing support and funds for the important cause at the heart of the organization.
West End Eurovision 2014 is set to be a night of glitz, glamour and glitter which is sure to be buckets of fun for its audience. Maybe Once will hold onto its crown, or maybe one of the contenders will take it from them…but one thing is certain: the final West End Eurovision will be making a memorable exit as the audience, judges and shows celebrate Eurovision ‘West End-style’.
By Julie Robinson @missjulie25
All video idents for West End Eurovision 2014can be viewed on YouTube. Choose your favourite and text your vote to 70099 (each show has an individual code). Votes cost £1 (plus text message) and up to 95p from each text goes directly to The Make A Difference Trust.