Monday, 5 October 2015

Review: West End Heroes at the Dominion Theatre

West End Heroes
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Sunday 4th October 2015

Returning to the Dominion Theatre for its third year, West End Heroes unites military musicians with West End performers to raise money and awareness for Help For Heroes

This year's show was presented by the one and only Christopher Biggins who had the time of his life and proved popular with the hugely supportive audience. The military orchestra, who accompanied the majority of performances, sounded glorious. Nothing beats the sound of a big band filling one of the finest theatres in London. 

Ben Forster and Kimberley Walsh gave a sneak peek of Elf The Musical. Their solo numbers both seemed quite fun; they are character driven songs which build up to some big money notes, the show opens at the Dominion later this month.

Representing Mamma Mia was the always fabulous Mazz Murray who returned to the Dominion, showing off her powerhouse vocals with a new arrangement of 'Waterloo'. The Royal Air Force Bluebells gave a playful rendition of 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend' whilst Jessica Martin stole the spotlight with her very clever performance of 'I Love A Film Cliche'. I doubt there was a dry eye in the house when soldier Maurillia Simpson (pictured right) sang 'His Eye Is On The Sparrow', she is a remarkably brave woman with an incredibly soulful voice.

It was a joy to see the Colchester Military Wives Choir and the West End Heroes Choir (made up of West End backstage crew and front of house staff) perform 'Don't Stop Believin'' and 'Whistle Down The Wind' respectively. Biggins then ended the first act by flying through the air dressed as some sort of human chandelier during a performance of ‘Be My Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast.

When Memphis star Rachel John took to the stage it was clear she meant serious business. John proceeded to sing for her life, giving a sublime rendition of 'Colored Woman'. Her co-star Jon Robyns then showcased some smooth vocal tones with his performance of 'Memphis Lives In Me'. The Phantom of the Opera's John Owen-Jones and Celinde Schoenmaker dazzled with the musical's title song which was followed by Owen-Jones casting a spell over the audience with his rendition of 'The Music of the Night'. 

The second half also saw Squadron Leader Matthew Little return to West End Heroes one again, this time impressing with ''Til I Hear You Sing'. Charlotte Jaconelli gave a stunning rendition of 'Love Never Dies' whilst Biggins joined the Royal Air Force Bluebells in drag to sing 'Don't Stand Under The Apple Tree'. One of the highlights was the amazing Barnaby Thompson and the slick West End Heroes Dancers giving a full out performance of 'Tap Your Troubles Away'.

The star of the show was current Les Miserables cast member Bradley Jaden. Firstly he took to the stage to perform 'Who I'd Be' from Shrek The Musical, having previously understudied the title role. I love the song and Jaden's strong vocals and stage presence were hugely impressionable. As well as performing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' with musical theatre boyband El Ocho, Jaden led the finale 'Do You Hear The People Sing', once again owning the stage and showing off his powerful voice. He is certainly a leading man worth keeping an eye on.

Not only is West End Heroes inspiring because of the incredible people who take to the stage, but also because of the warmth and support from the audience. These one-night-only shows can be nerve-racking, particularly for those who aren't used to performing on a West End stage, but it really felt as if everyone in the audience wanted to have an unforgettable evening which uplifted the atmosphere - the girl sat next to me beamed and sobbed her way through the entire performance.

Yet again West End Heroes proved itself to be the most inspiring event in the theatrical calendar.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Read our interviews with Jon Robyns and Bradley Jaden

Photo Credit: Claire Bilyard

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