Tag Archives: Theatre MAD

West End Bares 2012 at Cafe de Paris – 2nd September 2012

6 Sep

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.

Scott Garnham Cabaret – The Delfont Room, May 5 2012

7 May

I only discovered Scott Garnham recently through Les Miserables in which he is currently appearing as Feuilly and first cover for Enjolras (a part I was lucky enough to see him play on several occasions). When it was announced that he was organising his first solo cabaret there was no question I would have to be there.

So here I was in the Delfont Room on a Saturday evening – one of my favourite spaces for late night cabarets in the West End I’d like to add. I had little to no idea what to expect but after seeing Scott appear in A West End Christmas last December I was quite certain I wouldn’t be disappointed.

And what can I say? The evening was everything but disappointing for sure. I think the word “unconventional” sums it up well (a term Scott himself used). A rather creepy obsession with a girl named Claire, the joys of making love alone, being friends on Facebook and a completely “Self-indulgent ballad” – I doubt there has been a cabaret in the West End with a similar choice of songs. And I’m writing this with the biggest respect and praise because I can honestly say that I have never laughed more at a late night cabaret. Scott Garnham is not just a talented singer, he is also one of the most natural entertainers I have had the pleasure to see on stage. His interaction with the audience was flawless and he managed to combine songs and fun without turning the evening into a stand up comedy show. Scott’s songs – while often being more than hilarious – were personal and it was obvious how much thought had gone into chosing them (and partly even writing them).

Scott’s guests on this very special evening were Jon Hawkins, Hadley Fraser, Carl Mullaney, Liz Pendleton (backing singer and saxophone), Laura Tebbutt, Craig Mather (drums) and Rob Vickers (guitar). Personally I loved Scott’s and Jon’s “That’s life” because it was so obvious how well those two get along and how much fun they were having. The same goes for Scott’s and Sir Hadley’s (as I shall refer to him from now on) “Butter outta cream”.
Laura Tebbutt’s “Fabulous Girl” was a complete joy to listen to – that girl would make a more than fabulous Deloris in Sister Act (who cares she isn’t black)! I loved Carl Mullaney’s “Someone to fall back on” – a great tune which was sung beautifully.

But no matter how fantastic the guests, this evening was about Scott. And everyone who was there will surely agree with me when I say that Scott Garnham is one of the most original, witty, clever and talented young men in London’s West End. He doesn’t sing the same old songs that have been done to death at every cabaret around the world. His take on a late night cabaret was fresh and different and quite simply brilliant.

The whole evening took place in aid of Theatre MAD, a charity Scott has been supporting for quite a while. Please do check them out at http://www.madtrust.org.uk/.

Here’s hoping this wasn’t Scott’s first and last cabaret evening. It would be a shame if all those people who couldn’t make it on Saturday wouldn’t get a chance to experience this talented singer/songwriter/entertainer being delightfully unconventional on stage.

Thank you, Scott, for the songs and the laughs. I had the best time!

Complete song list

Let me drown
Follow these instructions
Die vampire die
Different
Making love alone
Did you get my message
Someone to fall back on (Carl Mullaney)
Loving you to excess
Solitaire
Self-indulgent ballad
Pencil full of lead
In Dublin
That’s life (with Jon Hawkins)
On the Facebook (with Carl Mullaney, Liz Pendleton and Laura Tebbutt)
All American prophet
Fabulous girl (Laura Tebbutt)
Butter outta cream (with Hadley Fraser)
We live on borrowed time
The curtain falls

Go and find Scott on Twitter @scottgarnham for a link to a complete audio upload of the evening and to get in touch with the man himself.

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West End Eurovision 2012

28 Apr

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)

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A West End Christmas – December 4th 2011

10 Dec

The 8th A West End Christmas once again took place at St. Paul’s (The Actor’s) Church in Covent Garden. I have no idea why I’ve never attented the event before – there honestly are no excuses for missing out on an evening like this. So obviously all I can say is: Shame on me!

West-end-christmas

First of all The Actor’s Church is an absolutely beautiful place for a Christmas concert. I felt all chistmassy right after I’d stepped inside. And the lovely people from Theatre MAD made me feel welcome straight away.

The concert started with the cast of The Lion King singing “Can’t help falling in love with you” which was beautifully arranged and certainly got everyone in the mood for an evening full of songs and joy.

I’m not going to review every single performance of the evening but I’d like to mention a few of my personal highlights.

Maureen Lipman reading “Twelve days of Christmas – A correspondence” was pure brilliance. Such timing and so very entertaining!

I was so happy to see and hear the lovely Jye Frasca at the concert. He did a wonderful version of “Home for Christmas” by Angelym Benson and Bobby Cronin which I really enjoyed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it won’t be long until we get to see this talented young man back on stage in the West End.

Emma Lindars and Landi Oshinowo singing “Miss you most at Christmas time” is what I would call a show stopper. Those two voices together are just breathtaking and I can safely say that everyone inside the church was mesmerized by those two amazing ladies.

I remember seeing Kieran Brown in the ensemble of Love never dies (sadly I never managed to catch him as Raoul) and it was great to hear him sing not one but two songs at the concert (one accompanied by the fantastic Musical Theatre Academy). Such a greatc singer! I really enjoyed “Christmas with the in-laws”, a song I hadn’t heard before. And “Christmas eve” was simply beautiful.

After hearing him sing at this concert I definitely want to see Scott Garnham as Enjolras in Les Miserables. What a voice! Loved hearing his “A Winter’s Tale”.

Will Barratt did a completely stunning version of “My grown up christmas” and Alison Jiear’s “Climb ev’ry mountain” was absolutely fabulous.

Out of the group numbers I have to say Legally Blonde were my personal favourites. Their Christmas medley was both festive and had a bit of an uptempo touch to it which I liked a lot. And Stephen: Loved the moves! 😉

A bit of a funny incident was a little song mishap. The Royal Academy of Music and Shrek both did a wonderful medley which coincidentally contained one identical song. But hey, who cares! Both groups did a fantastic job and I absolutely didn’t mind listening to such a lovely song twice.

The whole evening really managed to get me into the Christmas mood. I actually put up the Christmas tree the next day and decorated the whole house.

It’s fantastic there is  an organization like Theatre MAD that puts together amazing events like A West End Christmas year after year. It’s a wonderful evening and all for a great cause. Hopefully events like this will be part of London’s theatre community for years and years to come.

Thank you to everyone involved in this festive evening. This was my first visit to A West End Christmas but certainly not my last.

 For more info in Theatre MAD please go to http://www.madtrust.org.uk