Despite being based in one of the biggest cities in the world, the West End has a fantastically close-knit community. And when it comes together to raise money for charity, it’s hard to beat.
The 9th annual Make A Difference Trust (MAD) West End Eurovision illustrated this in swathes, with a sparkly, spangly, high-camp show that was not only extremely entertaining, but also highlighted the important work the charity provides both in the UK and further afield.
This year’s contestants took turns to recreate a Eurovision classic and were judged by some titans of the industry in the shape of Bonnie Langford and Wayne Sleep alongside former Blue Peter presenter Tim Vincent and West End newcomer Amber Davies.
Building on a legacy of over 25 years of fundraising by the theatre industry, The Make A Difference Trust raises funds for HIV and AIDS projects that build awareness and provide care, support and education in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa. They put on a number of very popular events each year including the highly acclaimed West End Eurovision.
For the 2019 spectacular, the cast of Only Fools and Horses kicked off proceedings with a high camp and hilarious version of “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”. The cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie brought some youthful exuberance with energetic dance, acrobatics and day-glow makeup, followed by the cast of Aladdin, who performed “Monsters” with breathtaking choreography. It was then MAMMA MIA!‘s chance to shine with a hilarious routine, which had everyone thinking things had gone horribly wrong, only to realise that the mishaps were part of a great slapstick dance routine.
Act 2 started with a truly iconic performance by four of the cast of Follies, who sang in French and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better the cast of The Phantom of the Opera brought the audience to their feet with a stunning vocal and visual performance. The final team to take to the stage had their work cut out to follow the fabulous Phantom rendition, but Wicked won over the audience with a high energy expertly choreographed version of “Wild Dances”.
The judges all relaxed into their roles as the evening whipped along and the banter and innuendo between them and the excellent MC Richard Gountlett, was a real highlight.
This year’s UK entrant Michael Rice really impressed when he performed the song we hope will change our fortunes at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest and Eurovision superstar Dana International took to the stage to lip-sync a couple of her most well-known hits while the judges deliberated and the audience were given time to cast their vote.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie took home the award for best ident (voted for by the public) while The Phantom of the Opera won Best Costume. Wicked received the judges award, but it was The Phantom if the Opera who were the worthy overall winners, taking the West End Eurovision title for the second year in a row.
MAD really know how to put on a show and ensure that it’s fantastic fun, while maintaining the important reasoning behind the event.