West End Live 2014

I’m not sure if this counts as a show, a concert, a festival or none of the above, but I blogged it last year so I thought I’d give it a go this year too! Thankfully this year I would be travelling to West End Live from my new flat which is just an hour away from Charing Cross Station. My Mum came down from Manchester for the weekend and we didn’t even leave the flat until 10am, which was a big improvement from the 8.30am train last year!

We arrived at a boiling hot Trafalgar Square just in time to see Savannah Stevenson, Willemijn Verkaik and Jeremy Taylor representing Wicked. They were all in costume, even Willemijn, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her in her full length black dress and full make-up! If she was uncomfortable she didn’t show it and performed a great version of “For Good” with Savannah.

I had no interest whatsoever in trying to get into Trafalgar Square itself – it was very hot and very crowded and I saw several people being carried out by ambulance staff throughout the day. No thanks! Instead we found a great spot at the side of Trafalgar Square, where not only did we have a brilliant view of one of the big screens but it was also easy to get to the “stage door” in-between performances.

As the Wicked cast were leaving the stage my Mum nudged me and gestured behind us – the cast of Les Miserables were all walking down the street in full costume, and they looked fantastic! I particularly loved Peter Lockyer in full Jean Valjean costume and make-up with a pair of sunglasses on. Not very French Revolution!

After Billy Elliot had performed a medley of songs from their show it was Les Miserables’ turn. There was a huge round of applause when Carrie Hope Fletcher took to the stage as Eponine and performed a flawless rendition of “On My Own.” Peter Lockyer then took to the stage, minus his sunglasses, and sang “Bring Him Home.” Wow. He was amazing. To finish their set the entire cast sang “One Day More” which gave me a chance to check out the new Javert, David Thaxton. There were a few sound problems so I didn’t hear as much as I would have liked but he certainly looked the part – I can’t wait to get back to Les Mis and see the new cast in action!

After Phantom of the Opera (I still can’t take to that show) and Miss Saigon (they kissed A LOT) it was time for The Pajama Game. I let out a little squeal as Gary Wilmot came onto the stage – I had been a huge fan of his for around fifteen years. I saw him as Fagin in Oliver! when I was 4 years old, then again as Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when I was 9. I also watched him religiously on children’s TV – he read a story called Big Bad Barney Bear once and I watched it so many times I wore the tape out. In short, he was my hero. By this time my friend Mandy had joined us and we watched the performance together with my Mum.

Afterwards I told Mandy how much I loved Gary Wilmot and she immediately dragged me round to the back of the stage to meet him. I was absolutely terrified! I was literally shaking as cast member after cast member exited the stage door before, finally, there he was. I made absolutely no attempt to catch his eye so Mandy pushed me forwards and told Gary I was a huge fan. He smiled at me encouragingly and I managed to tell him I’d seen him in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and he was the one who inspired my love of the theatre. I also told him I was incredibly nervous! He was so lovely and kind and I found it really easy to talk to him once the nerves had subsided. I even plucked up the courage to ask for a picture. “Of course!” he said and pulled me in for a cuddle. Grinning like an idiot I took my phone out to take a selfie and he said “did you say you were really nervous?” “Yes?” I said warily. “Right then!” he said and gave me a huge kiss on the cheek. If he wasn’t holding me so close I would have fallen smack on the floor in shock! I recovered just enough to thank him for the picture and then practically ran to my Mum who informed me that I was bright pink. I wonder why!

Mandy stayed with us to watch the Jersey Boys and then wandered off to see how big the queue to get into the square was. After Mamma Mia and The Bodyguard I checked the time – 2.30pm already! I was aching from standing up and fairly sure I’d burned in the sun, so me and my Mum decided to head to the KFC in Leicester Square for something to eat.

There was one act that I had been looking forward to ever since it was announced – Nathan Amzi would be on the West End Live stage for a 20 minute set. Originally it was announced that he would be joined by Christina Marie and the cast of In the Heights, but Christina Marie was unable to perform (what a shame) so Louise Dearman stepped in at the last minute. I was so excited to see In the Heights again and even more excited to see Nathan!

They were due on stage at 5pm so, at ten minutes to, I went into Trafalgar Square (thankfully it was less crowded) and managed to find a great spot with a brilliant view of the stage. I made lots and lots of noise when Nathan came on the stage and, though I was slightly disappointed he didn’t do a solo, I loved his performance of “Power of Love” with Louise. Nathan then left the stage (boo) and Louise sang “Let it Go” from Frozen and she was absolutely sensational. She then left the stage to make way for the In the Heights cast and my God they were good. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Sam Mackay, Johnny Labey, Emma Kingston, Wayne Robinson – they were all incredible and looked to be having the time of their lives. Every single audience member was dancing along, including me, especially when they finished the set with “Carnaval del Barrio.” Oh, and Nathan? Your Spanish was spot on!

After a mad dash to get to the stage door I was happy to find lots of my lovely ROAdies already there waiting. They all teased me about Nathan “oh I wonder why you’re here?” but I’m used to it by now! When he came out of the door they all stepped back so I could have my hugs first and I love them all so much for that! After huge hugs and a quick photo with Nathan I said goodbye to him and the ROAdies and headed off for an ice cream. I was ready for bed by that point but I had a John Owen Jones concert to go to at 8pm – bring it on!

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