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If you’ve missed the thrill of wandering around Covent Garden and Leicester Square, checking out the billboards for the latest new hits, then West End Musical Drive In is for you! Streamed online, this Halloween special concert offers some of the greatest musical theatre hits from fan favourites such as Hamilton, Legally Blonde and The Greatest Showman.
As the recording is from October, everyone is in fancy dress with Jon Robyns as a rather handsome (if questionably executed) Dracula as they performing ‘Stars’ from Les Miserables. There’s even a small section dedicated to Lucie Jones’ costume competition where they reward the audience for their craft and dedication. Moments like these offer snippets of the musical theatre world we could once immerse ourselves in.
The audience sit sheltered in their cars, partially to protect from the elements, but of course to enforce covid-19 restrictions. Clapping is replaced with a flurry of honks and the performers shout, “Your hands are your horns!” There’s even a car horn version of the Adams Family theme tune! Kelly Agbowu is stunning as she sings in full Maleficent attire. Much of the commentary between the songs reminisces on how much the theatre community has lost throughout the pandemic. Four months after this recording, as I watch the stream, the pre-pandemic world of infinite theatre is unreachable. Perhaps, there should be more room here for reflections on the persistence of art in a time of need. The socially distanced ‘Time-Warp’ is a testament to the adaptability of live music. There’s hope to be found in imagining a similar event with zero restrictions and a fully vaccinated audience.
The show-tunes are excellent fun; one can expect no less from some of the West-End’s most seasoned performers. Lucie Jones headlines the show and gifts us with exquisite vocals in a bloodied waitress costume, harkening back to her lead role in that very musical. There’s something so very cheerful about ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade,’ being performed to an open-air audience as it tips it down. Shanay Holmes and Jones sing their own rendition of, ‘Take me or Leave me,’ beginning by saying, “We haven’t rehearsed this!” They have amazing chemistry as close friends, all evidenced in their harmonies, and (of course) it is a spectacular duet.
While I can imagine the concert would have been better appreciated in person, the camera allows for close-ups of the stars as they deliver immaculate versions of musical classics. If you’re fond of a singalong, this may be an enjoyable way of spending your evening while we await the great theatre boom of 2021.
‘West End Musical Drive In’ is playing online until the 21 March. For more information and tickets, see West End Musical Drive In productions online.