Review – 4**** West End Musical Celebration: Live at the Palace Theatre

Some of our brightest young performers shine in this well produced greatest hits package. The West End is alive and well!

This time last year the first lockdown was in full swing and a great night out seemed a distant dream. But just like the Covid jab this show is a shot in the arm for theatre goers starved of real entertainment. West End Musical Celebration is billed as a greatest hits package and essentially this is what we get.  

Co-producer and host Shanay Holmes kicked off with a great version of You Can’t stop the beat from Hairspray, and introduced a succession of brilliantly talented performers. Ben Forster, winner of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Superstar TV show totally nailed Music of the night and Superstar. Sophie Evans delivers a spine tingling rendition of Somewhere over the rainbow and almost brings a tear to the eye. 

Trevor Dion Nicholas performed Friend like me from Aladdin, a song that could have been written for him. Alice Fearn took a standing ovation for Defying gravity and drew a similar response for Let it go in Act II. Rachel John displayed an impressive vocal range with Don’t rain on my parade, while Layton Williams tore the roof off with the touring production Everybody’s talking about Jamie. As the show cranked up to its finale Shanay displayed her diva credentials on Listen and One night only. The cast joined together at the end to perform the rousing From now on from the Greatest Showman.

The show’s concept is bound to focus on showstoppers, the songs that stand out and ultimately bring the house down. To all intents and purposes they stick to the brief, but there some odd choices on the set list that don’t match the format. For example, Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors is a narrative show tune that lacks any standalone quality.

Similarly, They just keep moving the line from Smash is performed out of context. Alice Fearn belts the song out for all it’s worth but doesn’t really work outside the musical. Although beautifully sung by Shanay and Rachel, When you believe isn’t a showstopper in the true sense of the word. 

It might sound like I’m splitting hairs but Shanay did mention the 11 o’clock number, the song that people would be singing on their way home. In my opinion a fair number of these songs don’t meet the criteria. As with any revue show you can’t please everyone and song choice is a matter of preference, but this approach occasionally defeats the show’s theme. Enough of my grumbling, let’s skip to the bottom line. Was I entertained by this show? Yes absolutely, it was a privilege to witness such gifted performers live on stage. Back to reality people let’s get out there and see this great show!

Creative Director: Shanay Holmes

Producers: Chris Steward and Shanay Holmes for West End Musical Productions

Choreographer: Ben Davies

Musical Director: Chris Hatt

Booking Until: 13 June 2021

Book here

Published by Playhouse Pickings

Theatre blog run by Rhiannon; a civil servant, D&D player, sci fi fan, immersive theatre lover and gin enthusiast

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