Review: A Christmas Wish, Acting for Others
3.0Overall Score

It feels like a night in the West End, as the virtual concert A Christmas Wish is about to start on my laptop screen. Acting for Others is a charity that has been at the heart of the performance industry for many decades. Now, they are aiming to bring the essence of the West End directly into peoples’ lives with their extensive line-up of West End performers including stars from Mamma Mia, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera and many more. 

A Christmas Wish is a wonderful compilation of everything we are missing about the West End: glitz, glamour, and the occasional cabaret. The show is hosted by Ben Stock and Hilary O’Neil who try to lighten the mood with their charismatic delivery and Christmas cracker jokes. The concert is nothing less than a celebration of the West End and the talent behind it.

30 musical actors bring Christmas songs, Christmas carols and the occasional comedy sketch into our living rooms. And not only the big names of the West End have shown up – but part of the show are also students from the MX Masterclass, who are being taught in their craft by West End stars. A Christmas Wish features songs such ‘Stowin’ Away (In Santa’s Sleigh)’ sung by Kyle Taylor Parker, and ‘Wish’, performed by The LSMT 2020 Graduating Class, which was released as part of Anderson & Petty’s album Wish in 2017. 

What the singers are delivering in vocal quality, is sadly missing in variety. A Christmas Wish is a beautiful concert by itself, but it’s trying so hard to be more than that. Pre-recorded “music-videos”, lip-sync performances, and over-the-top costumes are making the two and a half-hour-long show quite an undertaking, – putting me to the test. It is not unapt to admit that some things are better enjoyed on a West End stage.

What makes A Christmas Wish worth the watch, is the blend of beautiful voices and extraordinary vocal performance, as well as its aim to help performers all across England. The show starts with Gloria Ontitiri’s delicate delivery of ‘‘Twas The Night’, and features an array of beautiful performances. Phoebe Fildes’ and Alex Hammond’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’, Emma Hatton’s ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’ and Sooz Kempner’s ‘Playing, Mrs. Claus’ are among the many wonderful Christmas songs that make A Christmas Wish.

Not every show works in a digital setting, and perhaps A Christmas Wish would be more gratifying if it were a selection of performances rather than a full-length West End performance, but that is not to undermine the amount of sheer talent that the audience gets to witness in those two hours.

A Christmas Wish is playing online until 20 December 2020. For more information and tickets visit the Stream Theatre website.

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