“It’s going to be a special moment for everyone there”: An interview with Chris Steward, director of West End Musical Drive-In
The team that launched West End Musical Brunch have brought together a host of the biggest West End stars to perform live at their brand new event: West End Musical Drive-In. We talk to the director Chris Steward about the organisation of this exciting socially-distanced musical theatre party, the magic of musicals, and how the team moved their events along during lockdown.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Can you tell us how you first got involved with the West End Musical team?
I co-produce our events with my business partner Shanay Holmes, so I have been onboard from day one. I have a love for musicals, a love for business and a love for events, so it made sense to combine them all!
What are the sort of things the West End Musical Brunch producers have managed to organise for musical theatre fans during lockdown?
The moment we went into lockdown we moved our events onto Instagram, even continuing our tradition of doing the Time Warp. Later, we moved onto doing Zoom webinars so we could make the events more interactive. Right from the beginning of lockdown we have also been planning a drive-in version of our event, predicting that this would be the first style of event to come back.
Is the concept for the West End Musical Drive-In a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, or do you think the idea would have developed organically from the West End Musical Brunch team at some point anyway, as an innovative new way of showing theatre?
We ran a Rent Cinema event a couple years ago that featured performances from the cast before the film, so a drive-in was already on our agenda! We had other large-scale events planned for later this year alongside our weekly brunches, which sell out months in advance. These were unable to go ahead so the Drive-In kind of got bumped up the list.
You have brought together some huge West End stars for this exciting project. Is everyone thrilled to be performing for a live audience once again?
Yes, absolutely, they are dying to get out there on a big stage again and perform! Everyone in our company is from a performance background, so we know how it feels and we are so proud that we get to give them the opportunity to perform live again.
What can audiences expect from the show?
The biggest West End musical superstars performing songs from all of your favourite musicals. It’s going to be epic! The atmosphere is going to be out of this world, it always is at our events. The audience become the cast.
Has it been hard to organise the event in terms of premises and implementing social distancing, such as the rehearsals?
The guidelines have been very clear when it comes to outdoor events and we have partnered with large operators who are totally geared up towards making sure everyone is safe and socially distanced.
How will it differ from West End Musical Brunch?
Well, there are West End stars, music, food and drinks. So it basically is our brunch event, outdoors in your car, minus the bottomless prosecco!
Will the performances and line-ups change throughout the run?
Yes, we are arranging the other dates now and we will have different stars at every event. More reason to come back, and back, and back again and…
What are you most looking forward to about West End Musical Drive-In?
It’s going to be amazing to see these musical theatre icons performing in front of audiences again. I think it’s going to be quite a special moment for everyone there.
What are the future plans for the West End Musical team?
The moment we can sing indoors again, we will be back with a musical theatre vengeance! We also have lots of wonderful new ways to experience the magic that is musicals in the pipeline, so watch this space!
West End Musical Drive-In opens on 25th July 2020. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.