West End Bares has quickly become an annual fundraiser event for The Make A Difference Trust. Now in its third year the show brings together some of the West End’s most talented (and hottest) dancers.
Created by Jerry Mitchell – probably best known for being director and choreographer of Legally Blonde: The Musical – the event had its origin on Broadway under the name Broadway Bares. In London Darren Carnall has been in charge of the event as Artistic Director since the first West End Bares in 2010.
With London still sparkling with Olympic spirit this years West End Bares: “Get Set… Strip!” was sporting an Olympic theme treating the audience to everything from the Opening Ceremony to Sailing, Synchronised Swimming, Gymnastics, Wrestling, Table Tennis, Boxing and Equestrian right up to the Closing Ceremony. The whole evening was a colourful mix of amazing choreography, fabulous costumes and make-up, music that had the audience dancing and, as the title of the event suggests, a lot of naked flesh.
It’s hard to pick a favourite number out of all the brilliant pieces of song and dance. Personally I was especially impressed by The Opening Ceremony which started in style with torchbearer Oliver Thornton. Special mention here for the wonderful Jason Winter who made a rather nice to look at “golden boy” and for Paul Ayres and Jenny Fitzpatrick who showed off their great voices. Out of the “sports” numbers I loved Wrestling and Table Tennis which were both extremely entertaining. The whole Equestrian numb was stunning to look at. Big tumbs up for the amazing horse costumes by Spike Wilmer.
But then there really was no weak link in any of the numbers. This was entertainment on the highest level through and through! Amongst the performers of the evening were well-known West End names such as Carley Stenson, Zizi Strallen, Twinnie Lee Moore and Jodie Jaobs. The Closing Number had a song especially written for West End Bares by Barry Anderson and Mark Petty which was performed beautifully by Mark Evans and Louise Dearman.
Some of the presenters of the evening were Robin Cousins, Claire Sweeney, Jon Lee, Ben Richards, Louise Dearman and Oliver Thornton. Sadly Rugby World Cup Champion Ben Cohen couldn’t make it due to unforseen circumstances.
Probably the most popular part of each West End Bares is the so-called Rotation. Basically this gives the audience the chance to get up and close to the performers of their choice by putting MAD money in their pants. Said MAD money is sold throughout the show and, of course, all proceeds go to The Make A Difference Trust. So, you can touch up your favourite performer AND do something for charity – what’s not to love?!
Since we’ve been talking about pants: A West End Bares tradition is the Pants Project which was once again introduced with the Pants Parade. For this project wardrobe departments of several West End shows design a special show-related pair of pants which is auctioned of online in aid of MAD. Amongst the shows taking part this year are Ghost, Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables and Billy Elliot. There are also pants signed by celebrities such as Brian May and Patrick Steward. I suggest you have a look and get bidding on Ebay.
For everyone that doesn’t know The Make A Difference Trust: The theatre industry has come together for over 21 years in form of this charity to help those facing crises and challenges. Please do check out their work here: http://www.madtrust.org.uk/
I was fortunate enough to contribute a small part to West End Bares by helping out as a volunteer. This was my first experience of volunteering for MAD and I honestly had no idea what to expect. But all my worries vanished as soon as I arrived at Cafe de Paris just before 7pm. Everyone was beyond friendly and I got to meet a whole bunch of wonderful people. In case you were there on the day you may have seen me handing out pre-paid tickets and sporting a bright red MAD t-shirt.
With this extra look behind the scenes and having the chance to see some of the preparations for the show by both performers and the people working off stage I can honestly say that everyone involved in West End Bares has given his and her all to make this evening a success. The people at MAD, the performers, the volunteers, the backstage crew, the costume people etc – everyone has worked so hard for this and I truly felt like a part of something wonderful and important. I can’t thank MAD enough for giving me this opportunity. Hopefully I will get to volunteer at more great MAD fundraisers. And definitely count me in for West End Bares 2013!
Here’s a little photo gallery of the event. Once again, please don’t use these pictures anywhere else without asking.
Since I have been asked which performer was in which number I’ve included an overview of the different numbers of the evening all with names of dancers, choreographers etc.