This year’s West End Eurovision marked the 5th anniversary of what can only be called one the (if not THE) stagiest night out in the West End. Ten West End shows competed against each other by performing a past Eurovision Song Contest entry. And once again the creativity knew no boundaries – whether it were extravagant costumes, a stunning choreography, amazing vocals or a simply hilarious performance. And all this in aid of Theatre MAD (please do check out their work at http://www.madtrust.org.uk/).
Having moved to the Dominion Theatre after four years in the Piccadilly Theatre it was great to see West End Eurovision 2012 being such a huge success and almost selling out one of the largest theatres in the West End. The evening was hosted by Gaby Roslin for a second year in a row and by John Patridge (who will always be the Rum Tum Tugger for me – sorry John, you’re probably sick of being reduced to a cat).
The celebrity hosts this year were Kerry Ellis, Tony Blackburn and Stefanie Powers (yes, that’s Mrs. Hart for those who remember the TV show from years ago). The first two did a great job and threw in some witty and entertaining comments. Miss Powers on the other hand was entertaining for all the wrong reasons. Sadly she showed a complete lack of knowledge about the event she was taking part in and it appeared she had no clue of what was going on. And to top it all it seemed she might have had slightly too many drinks before the start of the show.
But in the end it’s not about the judges, it’s about the performances. And those were without exception outstanding. It always amazes me how much hard work every single person involved in West End Eurovision puts into the whole event.
I really can’t pick an overall best performance out of the ten entries. Although the winner of the evening – Sweeney Todd – certainly provided a performance to remember. I mean, it is hard to top Michael Ball making fun of his own Eurovision Song Contest entry from 1992 (and a surprise appearance by Imelda Staunton to make things even better). Plus Matthew Gent performing as a young Michael Ball was pure genius.
I very much enjoyed Shrek’s “Fly on the wings of love” which happens to be one of my all time favourite Eurovision songs. Les Miserables may have started out with huge sound problems but at the second attempt gave a performance that had the audience on their feet. And I have to say that Carl Mullaney makes a rather fabulous Celine Dion!
Rock of Ages surprised the audience with a cameo appearance of Oliver Tompsett in a quite fashionable pirate outfit.
The Wizard of Oz showed us more of Russel Grant than most of us ever intended to see. The 39 Steps were the only show that presented a song in German. And while some of it didn’t sound very authentic I admire them for choosing this song in the first place because let’s be honest: German is ridiculously difficult.
I loved Phantom of the Opera’s song choice. “Fairytale” – the winner of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest – is simply a fantastic tune and was sung brilliantly by Jeremy Secombe.
I have to admit I didn’t quite “get” Billy Elliot’s performance. But the show judges seemed to love it so I’m probably just being thick on this occasion.
Wicked’s “Pupée de cire, poupée de son” was a solid performance but didn’t stick in my head as much as some of the other entries. The same goes for Mamma Mia’s “Bonjour” although I do cherish my Sally Ann Triplett money!
The whole votes presentation certainly was a minor let down as it simply didn’t work at all. And I was slightly disappointed we didn’t get to see the winning performance one more time (maybe Michael and Imelda had gone home already?! I couldn’t blame them, after all it was approaching 3am by the end of the show.).
Hats off to Kerry Ellis for filling the unplanned extra time needed to count the votes backstage by singing “Somebody to love”. Her voice never fails to amaze me. I do agree with my friend though: We’d rather have had John do the Rum Tum Tugger for us!
Last but not least: Huge congrats to Les Miserables for winning best video ident! All that hard work and Twitter promotion has certainly paid off. Well done!
And to wrap this up I want to give a big shout out to the Official Adjudicator Mr. Richard Gauntlett simply for being completely awesome.
This was my third West End Eurovision and I can say here and now that it has not been my last. Theatre MAD has done so much great work over the last 21 years and events like West End Eurovision are a fantastic example of what a great community the West End is. To see sp many people giving their time for free and really putting their heart and soul into an evening like this – what’s not to love?
2012 West End Eurovision Entries
The 39 Steps: Boom Boom Bomerang (year of entry: 1977, position: 17th)
Billy Elliot: Shir Habatlanim (year of entry: 1987, position: 8th)
Les Miserables: Ne partir pas sans moi (year of entry: 1988, position: 1st)
Mamma Mia: Bonjour (year of entry: 1969, position: 5th)
The Phantom of the Opera: Fairytale (year of entry: 2009, position: 1st)
Rock of Ages: Wolves of the sea (year of entry: 2008, position: 11th)
Shrek the Musical: Fly on the wings of love (year of entry: 2000, position: 1st)
Sweeney Todd: One step out of time (year of entry: 1992, position: 2nd)
Wicked: Poupée de cire, poupée de son (year of entry: 1965, position: 1st)
The Wizard of Oz: Boom Boom (year of entry: 2011, position: 12th)