The West End Men at the Vaudeville
Not a group that you would immediately expect to find sharing the stage, the West End Men are Olivier Award winning actor David Thaxton, Glenn Carter of Jesus Christ Superstar, Lee Mead from BBC talent show fame and Matt Willis from Busted (yes Matt Willis does musicals now). Suited and booted like a middle-aged boy band, they appear on the stripped back stage to perform some of the best-known songs from musical theatre, opening with Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
The concept mirrors the format of ITV’s popular show An Audience with… so, in between the West End belters of Close Every Door from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Memory from Cats, you get some carefully crafted chat including a series of dad jokes. This would ordinarily leave you hands clasped firmly to your face, however on the musical theatre stage it seems somewhat appropriate. The choreography also does little to quell the cheese factor with the artists replicating the iconic Queen II album cover or perching on a token stool.
The song choices are slightly left-field: you would expect hits from West Side Story, Les Misérables and Cats, instead your ears are met with Fix You by Coldplay and Anthem from Chess. This leaves you a bit short-changed if you are looking for the classic sing-along anthems from your favourite musicals. That being said, Matt Willis wiggling around to the popular Busted hit Year 3000 is nothing but a joy. Guest female singer Kerry Ellis is another highlight and her performance of Defying Gravity from Wicked leaves you with a warm Disney glow inside.
The show presents a host of strong vocalists, however the nature of the song selection seems to be for the benefit of a casting director rather than the audience. The artists sing a range of lead male and female vocals as if to say “Look I can do it all!” The stripped back set also fails to deliver the pizazz expected from a West End show and instead feels occasionally as if you dropped into a dress rehearsal.
This show might satisfy die-hard lovers of musical theatre but sadly without the jaw-dropping performances of these iconic shows. Seeing a West End classic would be a safer investment of your money, as you’ll be guaranteed a great show with all the classic hits.
The West End Men is on at the Vaudeville Theatre until 22nd June 2013. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.
Watch The West End Men: Rehearsals Day 1 here: