West End Live (18th-19th June 2016)

West End Live is probably the stagiest event of the year. The only way I can describe it is pure joy. 🙂

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If you love musical theatre then I thoroughly recommend going to West End Live. (Even if you aren’t a massive theatre fan I’d still recommend going) It is an event like no other. It’s such a magical experience, and you are almost guaranteed to come away singing and sporting an enormous smile. Best thing about it? It’s completely free, which means thousands of people can get a sample of London’s West End, without having to part with a penny.

For those that haven’t heard of it, West End Live is like a theatre festival (a complete dream for theatre lovers). It is basically a showcase of many of the current and new productions in the West End. Every year, mid-June, a huge stage is set up in the middle of Trafalgar Square, London, and over one weekend many shows take to the stage for about fifteen minutes each to perform a few of their most popular numbers. Whole casts come on in full costume, and in just a few minutes you can get a real feel for what the show is like as a whole.

It’s not just about the shows though, the festival also celebrates other performing arts companies, such as the Sylvia Young Theatre School, West End Masterclass and many more, including choirs across the West End. Royal Opera Chorus, West End Musical Choir, and West End Gospel Choir to name a few. Single musical theatre stars give special performances throughout the weekend as well. This year saw Matt Cardle sing a beautiful performance of Bring Him Home (Les Miserables) whilst other performers included theatre and film actress Samantha Barks, who a gave taste of her newly released album, and Ramin Karimloo, who had the entire audience singing an emotional yet rousing rendition of Do You Hear The People Sing (Les Miserables), to close the weekend.

This year also included a very special and moving moment in which everyone came together to pay tribute to the Orlando victims and MP Jo Cox with a one minute applause.

What can you expect from West End Live?

You can expect sing-alongs, spontaneous Mexican waves, competitions, and full audience participation when it comes to the waving of flags, hands, and dancing. 🙂

On a more serious note, queues. The event is open from 11:00am-6:00pm on the Saturday, and 12:00am-6:00pm on the Sunday. There are a few hard-core fans that will be queuing as early as 7:00am, and as with many things, the earlier you are, the more choice you have in terms of where you want to stand/sit. However, the gates are open all day, and you can come as go as you wish. Trafalgar square is generally packed with people, but wherever you choose to position yourself you will most likely still be able to see the stage, or the giant TV’s either side of the stage. The queues tend to move pretty quickly throughout the day anyway. There’s never any need to push your way through the crowd, everyone tends to help each other out and will move aside if you need to be somewhere else.

One of the most important things to bear in mind is that it gets rather warm. Even more so when the sun makes an appearance. Even though it is an outside event, there are a lot of bodies which give off lots of heat. Sun cream, a hat, sunglasses and lots of water is definitely recommended. Also a packed lunch, because once you’re in, you probably won’t want to leave. We are however, talking about the UK, so waterproofs will probably come in handy at some point as well.

FUN. Whether you know the words to every song sung over the weekend, or you are going because you can’t decide what show to see next, or because you just want to try something new and experience theatre. There is something in the weekend for everyone. As I said, the atmosphere is absolutely incredible. Let’s not forget that much of the audience at West End Live are fellow theatre fans, and there’s real vibe of love and friendship across the whole weekend. There is also a range of marquees set up around the edge of the square, offering activities for all ages, from theatre inspired makeovers to arts and crafts, so if the music gets a bit too much for children, there are many other activities to keep the whole family entertained.

The energy and happiness of the crowd is contagious, and will leave you buzzing. West End Live is definitely not an event to be missed. If you haven’t been before, I would definitely recommend thinking about going next year!

I now have an enormous list of musicals to see…

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