West End Heroes took place last night at the multi-million pound refurbished Dominion Theatre, for an electrifying evening which celebrated its second year of supporting the charity ‘Help for Heroes’. The charity’s founder, Bryn Parry gave a short speech describing the charity’s aims for servicemen and women who suffer in the line of duty, and how thankful they were for the support they’d receive from those who were involved in creating the evening’s gala event. Last year they successfully raised £88,000 and hope to exceed their target of £100,000 this year.
The event commenced, royally, with fanfares performed by The Band of the Queen’s Division and a Military Medley orchestrated by the 50-piece Central Band of the Royal Air Force under the baton of Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs. Tim Marshall directed the evening’s show, Stuart Morley was the musical supervisor whilst Matt Flint choreographed as he had done at last year’s West End Heroes.
Michael Ball, double Olivier award winning musical star, TV and radio presenter, hosted the evening and kept the audience on their toes with a few jokes. He also sung a few numbers including ‘Do you Hear the People Sing?’ from Les Misérables, where he received a standing ovation.
The Evita set, which is currently being staged at the Dominion Theatre, was taken advantage of and kicked off the first of the many West End songs with ‘Buenos Aires’ sung by Michelle Pentecost and the Evita cast. Lead singer of the UK pop band Wet Wet Wet , Marti Pellow, who is currently acting as Che in the Evita production, also sung Mack and Mabel’s ‘I Won’t Send Roses’.
The evening also introduced the talented West End Heroes Choir; from front of house, box office, stage crew and dressers who vocally supported many of the acts for the night and had their debut performance of ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs in the Spring.’
There were outstanding presentations of some of the best musicals (too many to mention here) by the awe-inspiring Louise Dearman, Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro, Louise Plowright who sung ‘Some Things You Just Know’ from the forthcoming musical Sleepless in Seattle, WOMAN the Band, James Fox, Flight Lieutenant Matthew Little, Daniel Boys, Lauren Samuels, Hugh Maynard with the cast of Miss Saigon and the mesmerising, Carrie Hope Fletcher.
Other great performances included a collaboration with Tiffany Graves, West End Heroes Dancers, the Queen’s Colour Squadron, the Band of the Queens Division and the Royal Marines Corps of Drums of ‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’, which ended with fireworks and, safely handled, gunshots in the air.The Songs for Victory cast also gave the audience eye-opening perspectives of World War II in line with the charity’s military cause by performing ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and ‘I’ll Be Seeing You.’
Yet the best, and most zaniest, performance, which wowed the entire auditorium, following a Mary Poppins medley to celebrate its 50th year, was when Freddie Huddlestone walked up the side of the stage and stomped upside down as if he were on the roof like Dick Van Dyke in ‘Step in Time’. The agility and tap dancing mania from the Mary Poppins dancers kept the audiences’ adrenaline pumping throughout the night.
West End Heroes is a fully loaded, but exciting evening of variety and exhilarating performers blending the West End with UK military bands. It’s not only entertaining, but something worth keeping an eye out for if you’re a devote fan of musicals.
By Mary Nguyen
This charity gala performance in aid of Help For Heroes, again united the country’s top military musicians with even more West End performers and productions in a dazzling showcase of showstopping numbers, unlikely song mash-ups, stunning choreography and precision drilling.