Having been to many musical theatre cabarets over the years and always thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I like to keep an eye out for such events in London and encourage fellow theatre enthusiasts to head on down and check them out for themselves. They’re always a great source of fun for those who appreciate good music and good voices and often carry the added bonus of aiding some worthwhile cause: the upcoming cabaret at Leicester Square Theatre later this month more than fits the bill of requirement here.
An impressive line-up of West End stars are gathering for a one-night-only extravaganza at the popular venue next weekend, and all in the name of charity.
The Philippine Dream, set to take place on Sunday 17th August 2014, is a fundraising gala night in aid of the Tuloy Foundation for Children which will feature live performances from a sparkling selection of well-known talents from the West End stage who will be raising money for abandoned and abused orphans in Manila. All proceeds from the night will go towards building an arts centre, with the added potential for a small theatre which would allow young children the opportunity to perform and showcase their talents.
Leading lady Summer Strallen is one such star who will be performing on the night. The Olivier Award-nominated actress has played leading roles in many West End shows, including Top Hat, Love Never Dies and The Sound of Music, and was most recently seen in the touring production Ballroom To Broadway with dance partner Anton du Beke (Strictly Come Dancing), who will also be performing at The Philippine Dream. Joining them are Daniel Buckley (The Book of Mormon, Loserville), Charlotte Riby (Billy Elliot, Hairspray), Diane Pilkington (Mamma Mia, Wicked), Alicia Beck (Cats, Zurich Ballet), Tyrone Huntley (The Book of Mormon, Memphis), Harry Francis (A Chorus Line, Edward Scissorhands) and Lady Imelda (Glam Jam).
Also in the line-up are cast members from the 2014 company of Miss Saigon: Hugh Maynard, who plays the role of John, and Rachelle Ann Go, who plays Gigi. Their Miss Saigon cast mate, Jon Briones, who is currently wowing audiences as The Engineer in the West End musical, grew up in a slum area of Manila and know first-hand how theatre can be a changing force in the life of an underprivileged Filipino child. He described himself as one of the “lucky ones” as his talent for singing earned him a scholarship to an exclusive school and presented him with opportunities he may not have ordinarily had otherwise.
Briones met with Mamma Mia actress Katy Osborne, who conceived The Philippine Dream after spending two weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Manila earlier this year. She led musical theatre workshops for children aged from eight to eighteen during her time there and can vouch for the difference the arts can make to them, saying: “Some of these children went from not being able to make proper eye contact or speaking louder than a whisper to desperately wanting to do solo singing auditions! I could see with my own eyes the confidence and excitement they had about the possibilities that performing gave them. I was moved every single day with their bravery and courage.”
She personally raised £5,000 for the charity, and further fundraising efforts such as the recent West End Sports Day and bucket collections at Wicked and Miss Saigon, coupled with donations from Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, has seen the total rise to over £8,000. This musical theatre cabaret will add more money to the pot and bring her closer to her fundraising goal. Osborne, who is presenting the event in association with Harry Francis of Francis Humes Productions, will be in attendance with her vintage close harmony vocal group, The Dolly Girls, who will be performing on the night.
A surprise host is still to be announced for this one-of-a-kind charity evening which promises to be an unmissable occasion. The Philippine Dream is offering a couple of hours of unrivalled entertainment courtesy of of a star-studded line-up of West End stars, but more than that, it’s offering the chance to support a worthwhile cause and actually make a real difference. Katy Osborne has demonstrated just how direly this arts centre is needed by highlighting how performing arts can enrich the lives of these children in Manila.
Briones, who supports the project and has stressed the importance of the work she is doing, added: “I’ve seen videos of Katy’s kids performing and you can see the joy in their faces. They are hungry for this. Let’s help Katy help these kids continue to grow.”
The Philippine Dream takes place at the Leicester Square Theatre on Sunday 17th August 2014.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25