The Make A Difference Trust has a number of regular events on their fundraising calendar; West End Bares is always a highly entertaining night and the most recent event, A West End Christmas, was a sell-out success. It’s that time again though, as what is probably the charity’s most popular event rolls around again: West End Eurovision.
West End Eurovision is the brainchild of MADTrust volunteers Garry Cruickshank and Kevin Henry, whose love for the Eurovision Song Contest led them to create its theatrical equivalent. Every year, ten West End shows gather to compete against one another, performing a past Eurovision song entry in a bid to be crowned the West End Eurovision champions. Two cast members from each show are allocated the job of judge and, along with the celebrity jury panel, cast their votes in true Eurovision style to determine which show will walk away as the winners that year. It is a very fun, very camp night, and since its conception in 2007, WEE has grown to become a firm favourite with theatre fans. Last year’s event garnered unprecedented press coverage and completely sold out – I lost count of how many phone calls the MADTrust office received from latecomers desperate to get their hands on a ticket. This year, 2012 marks WEE’s fifth anniversary, so it seems particularly fitting that Ghost The Musical’s taking over of the Piccadilly Theatre (WEE’s home for the past 4 years) has led to the event being moved to the altogether larger venue of the Dominion Theatre, currently housing We Will Rock You. As with every passing year, WEE is going to be bigger and better than ever before and MADTrust have a whole box of treats in store.
TV personality Gaby Roslin returns to host the event, this time joined by stage and screen actor John Partridge, former Cats cast member (Rum Tum Tugger) and current Eastenders star (Christian Clarke). Already confirmed to be on the judging panel are West End leading lady Kerry Ellis (Wicked, WWRY) and American film/TV and stage star Stefanie Powers. As has become the tradition, there will also be a special appearance from a past Eurovision entrant; this year sees international recording artist Javine Hylton perform onstage at WEE 2012. Hylton represented the UK in in 2005 with the Eurovision song entry ‘Touch My Fire’. Heart FM radio presenter Toby Anstis is also back as the audience’s link to all the backstage action, while comedienne and TV/radio presenter Kate Copstick will be chatting to everyone on the red carpet.
West End Eurovision was the first MADTrust event I was ever involved in so I do have a bit of a soft spot for it, even if it did cost me a glass of champagne in a bet with my fellow MADTrust volunteer Jo Smith when Priscilla placed higher than Phantom. A lot of work goes into putting the event together from our end, but I will forever be in awe of the amazing lengths the casts from each show entrant go to for it. They come up with the most fabulously complex and detailed performances, spending months rehearsing the song and their dance routines, as well as creating their own costumes; all while tirelessly promoting the event and the charity. They all put such an effort into the night and are so enthusiastic about being a part of it that it’s just wonderful to see. West End Eurovision would be nothing without their participation, so I would like to say an early thank you to all of this year’s show entrants for the continuing support for MADTrust. The ten West End shows taking part in WEE 2012 are: Billy Elliot, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, Shrek, Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera, The 39 Steps, The Wizard of Oz and Wicked.
As well as competing to be the champions of West End Eurovision, the shows will also be fighting it out for the honour of winning ‘Best Ident’. I’m sure that by now, most of you have viewed the video idents online and will agree with me that they have all done a superb job on them. I was there for the 2012 WEE ident launch party last month where all the show’s casts came together for the idents first public showing; there are some highly comical and rather impressive offerings this year, and even though the shows are officially in competition, it’s great to see that they are actually very supportive of one another. It’s the theatre fans who decide which show’s ident takes the crown in 2012 and voting is already open, so please, watch the idents and of course share them with as many people as possible, but don’t forget to place your vote too. Each ident has its own unique tag (comprised from the show’s initials) which you can text to 70099 – voting cost £1 with up to 95p going to MADTrust.
The fifth annual West End Eurovision takes place at the Dominion Theatre on Thursday 26th April 2012, 11.30pm. For further information and booking details, visit the MADTrust website at www.madtrust.org.uk. I hope to see you there!
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)