You’ll often hear complaints about how much time people spend in front of the television these days; I can understand this. I would much rather see my daughter playing outside than slumped in front of the box like a digital junkie and I’ve sat in a room with family and friends who are happier staring at the screen of a television than having an actual conversation. Still, there are those special times when watching television is something to be advocated. A recent example would be the on-going Olympic Games, but there is also one annual event that sees whole families gather round the TV for a night of giving, and that is of course Children in Need.
For this one night of the year, a host of celebrities lend their fame to the worthy cause of raising as much as possible to help improve the lives of needy children around the globe. From starving children in African to young carers here in the UK, Children in Need aims to help them all by highlighting their plight to the millions and offering a variety of top-notch entertainment in return. Continuing along this stream, theatre-goers can lend their support to CiN by combining a desire to help with their love of theatre with the return of the popular Pop Goes The Musical.
As part of this year’s Children in Need, several famous personalities will be taking on the challenge of performing on a West End stage when they join some of the biggest and best shows in town this autumn. In an exclusive one-night-only deal, they will all be making cameo appearances in these shows to perform a hit song alongside the regular cast.
Former X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke is set to visit the Queen’s Theatre on Tuesday 18th September to sing a song from the West End’s longest-running musical Les Miserables. Burke won Simon Cowell’s singing contest in 2008 and is one of its biggest success stories, having released two albums, headlined a concert tour and been nominated for prestigious music awards such as ‘Best British Single’ in the 2010 Brit Awards (‘Bad Boys’). She has also devoted a lot of time to her charity work, such as travelling to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and helping to launch the ‘No Child Born To Die UK campaign from Save The Children in 2011.
Meanwhile, over at the Prince Edward Theatre on Thursday 11th October, four gorgeous boys will be swapping one colour for another as Blue don red jackets to perform in Jersey Boys, the story of the 1960’s rock and rollers Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Made up of Simon Webb, Antony Costa, Lee Ryan and Duncan James (who many may also know from West End musical Legally Blonde, where he originated the role of Warner Huntington III opposite Sheridan Smith), Blue were one of the UK’s most adored boy bands in the early 2000’s. They released three albums and had a medley of hit songs to their name, such as ‘All Rise’, ‘One Love’ and ‘Guilty’ before splitting in 2005. They represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest (2011) following their reformation in 2009 and are set to release their fourth album later this year.
There will also be an appearance from one-fifth of the innovators of Girl Power, Geri Halliwell, who will be splashing onto the stage of the Palace Theatre to perform with the cast of Singin’ in the Rain on Thursday 25th October. Halliwell (better known as Ginger Spice) was part of the 90’s girl band The Spice Girls, who are the best-selling female group of all time. She left the band after four years and embarked on a solo career, reuniting with her Spice Girls co-members in 2007 for a new single and world concert tour. Proving they’re still as popular as ever, Viva Forever, a musical based on their songs, opens in the West End this December.
Last, but not least, is a double dollop of creamy goodness with both American R&B star Macy Gray and the up-and-coming girl band Stooshe both set to storm the stage of the Michael Jackson tribute show Thriller on 15th November. Gray is a Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter with six albums under her belt and is perhaps best known for the hit song ‘I Try’ in 1999. Stooshe are comprised of Alexandra Buggs, Karis Andersons and Courtney Rumbold and were formed in 2010 – their first two singles are already Top Five hits.
Pop Goes The Musical continues the success of its debut last year, which saw pop artist Peter Andre perform in Ghost The Musical, the Sugababes in Mamma Mia and Halliwell’s fellow Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm in We Will Rock You, alongside Brian May. Half of the money made from the sale of tickets for these performances goes to Children in Need, so if you fancy being a part of a unique theatre experience that also allows you to support needy children, then maybe you should actually be in the ticket queue right now…
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)