Theatres have finally been able to spring back to business over the past few weeks, and how better to celebrate this than with a concert showcasing the finest musicals the West End has to offer?
Organised as a charity concert to help fund the struggling theatre industry, The Show Must Go On! was first announced last October, to be held the following month. Held at Nimax’s Palace Theatre at a socially distanced capacity, high demand led a further five shows to be added to the original two. But then of course come November, another lockdown happened, and then another lockdown. Three postponements later, it was finally able to take place from Wednesday 2nd to Sunday 6th June.
I went to see the Sunday matinee performance of the concert, in which they were gearing up and preparing for the evening’s performance to be live streamed on YouTube and watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers. The Palace theatre is probably one of the West End’s largest, and therefore the perfect place to host the concert. I was sat in the front row of the balcony, the highest level, which although everyone’s facial expressions were still visible, it did feel quite high up! I may not have gone for this ticket if it was a production with a storyline to follow, but as this was a concert and being able to hear everything live was the most important thing, the £22.50 ticket was great value for money.
The concert was brilliantly hosted by both West End legend Bonnie Langford – who hilariously made reference to her reveal as the Squirrel on the Masked Dancer the night before – and Trevor Dion Nicholas, who currently stars as George Washington in the smash-hit Hamilton. He later performed a song from the musical, You’ll Be Back, which was an exclusive to the concert as, of course he would not usually play the role of King George VII – although despite this, he did capture the characters’ mannerisms incredibly well. But first, the concert began with the hosts and the graduate chorus performing a new song, fittingly titled The Show Must Go On with its lyrics including references to different musicals – it really made me a little bit teary at how excited I was for it to finally be back.
The concert included performances from musicals such as West End classics Mamma Mia! and Wicked, to new productions including Pretty Woman and Back To The Future. It was excited to get previews of these new musicals, especially as Back To The Future is yet to premiere on the West End, although if the reviews from its run at Manchester’s Opera House pre-COVID are anything to go by, I expect it’s going to be a hit (by reviews, I mean my best friend, but she’s a trustworthy source, promise!).
Highlights for me were unsurprisingly the performances from my two favourite musicals. It was so exciting to watch John Owen Jones perform Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, in the same theatre that the first played Valjean over twenty years ago. I also absolutely loved Alice Fearn’s powerful performance of Me and The Sky from Come From Away, reminding me of how great a musical it is – truly a gem of the West End and a must-watch when it finally reopens this summer.
However, everyone’s musical tastes are different, which is what makes the concert, and the West End more generally, so special. There really is something for everyone, so although performances from the likes of Come From Away and Les Mis were the main events for me, someone across the aisle may have been excited for a totally different production. Having a live preview of shows that I naturally wouldn’t gravitate towards was a great opportunity to see what they were like; although musicals such as Tina! or Phantom may not be what I would go for, their performances were still very impressive.
As mentioned earlier, the performance of The Show Must Go On! was live streamed on the Sunday evening, and will still be available to watch on their YouTube channel for a few more days right here. It’s definitely worth a watch to get an idea of what the shows you may be planning on buying tickets for over the next few months are like!
Are you excited to see any shows now that theatres are reopening?