A birthday is always a cause for celebration, and West End LIVE proves no exception as it returns to London this weekend for its landmark 10th year. The popular annual event is the largest of its kind in the UK, bringing together some of the best shows from the West End to showcase the ‘quality and diversity of entertainment’ housed there and promote it as a place for all the family to visit. Best of all, the event is open to the public and completely free!
West End LIVE is presented by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) in association with Mastercard, and in the decade it has exited, the live performance event has grown bigger and better with each and every year. Over half a million people attended last year’s West End Live which featured a record-breaking number of participating shows, including Monty Python’s Spamalot, A Chorus Line, Merrily We Roll Along, The Color Purple and Once. Each year’s line-up features a mixed selection of both new and long-running shows, and the line-up for this year’s performance is impressive indeed.
Organisers have pulled out all the stops for the 10th anniversary of the weekend-long event, which takes place once again at Trafalgar Square on Saturday 21st June and Sunday 22nd June 2014. More than 20 shows are taking part, including some returning favourites alongside the more recent additions to the West End. There are some really exciting performances in store for the crowd on Saturday, with such classics as Les Miserables, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Matilda The Musical, Billy Elliot, Stomp and Once The Musical due to take to the stage, as well as first-time West End Live shows Miss Saigon, The Pajama Game, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Commitments. Other highlights include performances by Big Dance, The Royal Opera House Chorus and students of the Sylvia Young Theatre School. A number of shows are making a repeat appearance as part of Sunday’s schedule (ie. Jersey Boys, Let It Be, Thriller Live!) while the public will also be treated to performances by Carousel, The Lion King, 20th Century Boy, Calamity Jane and The Showstoppers alongside The English National Opera, West End Kids and the special 10th anniversary addition of the 10 From 10 cabaret section.
The 10 From 10 cabaret will feature 10 iconic songs from West End musicals to celebrate a decade of West End LIVE, with the added bonus of a star-studded list of special guests to perform them. Shows such as Chicago and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert will be part of the celebrations, with the likes of Danielle Hope, Daniel Boys and Michael Xavier making appearances. Fans can look forward to hearing Jodie Prenger singing ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ from Oliver, as well as Leanne Jones and Oliver Tompsett performing numbers from Hairspray and We Will Rock You respectively. The latter will also be presenting a portion of the event during the course of Sunday.
West End LIVE was born at Leicester Square, moving to Trafalgar Square in 2011 due to the renovations that were taking place and also to meet the demand of the ever-growing crowds turning up each year. That first home hasn’t been forgotten in its 10th anniversary though as the event extends to Leicester Square where drama is celebrated alongside musical theatre
Theatre lovers are given the chance to ‘peek behind the scenes’ in West End LIVE’S 1920’s Spiegeltent Theatre Emporium which offers an insight into all the elements which bring a play to life, such as the scripts, costumes and special effects. There will also be a series of intimate In Conversations taking place featuring some of the West End’s most prolific actors and theatre-makers, such as the casts of Olivier Award-winning show Handbagged and the director of the upcoming stage adaption of Shakespeare in Love, Jamie Lloyd.
Cllr Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council and creator of West End LIVE, said of this year’s event: “2014 is a very special year as it marks a decade of West End LIVE, and we are still the only festival in the world that brings together the best of musical theatre and more in one place for free. Come and join us and let’s make this the best year yet.”
This one-of-a-kind event is one of the most anticipated theatre-related dates on the calendar, and for very good reason. West End LIVE provides the unique opportunity to experience a varied taste of what the West End has to offer, proudly displaying a selection of its best shows in a free celebration of London theatre which will hopefully welcome in a wider audience, as well as showing a little token of appreciation to the existing theatregoers who regularly visit the West End. Ten years is something to celebrate indeed, and this weekend promises to be the best West End LIVE yet as the theatre industry takes over London for those two days and demonstrates just how uniquely special it really is.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Thursday 19th June 2014
West End LIVE takes place at London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday 21st June (11am-6pm) and Sunday 22nd June 2014 (12pm-6pm): @WestEndLIVE