This Friday (20th May) at 1pm, West End stars are leaping off the stage and onto the streets for a costumed charity fun run.
The West End Fun Run is a fun 5k run through the heart of London’s West End. Performers and crew will be running to raise funds for the street children of the Philippines to build their very own theatre at the Tuloy Foundation.
The event is the organised by Katy Osborne who is currently appearing in the West End production of Mamma Mia!. Osborne spent two weeks volunteering in an orphanage in Manila, teaching the children daily six hour workshops to enrich and nourish their lives through musical theatre.
The children, aged between 8 and 18, enjoyed the happiness and escapism of learning dance routines and songs from some of the best known musicals. Personally raising an astonishing £19,000 for the charity, Osborne was delighted when producer Cameron Mackintosh donated a further £1,000 towards the Foundation.
Osborne previously organised the first West End Sports Day, where nine musicals competed in a school sports day inspired event, raising over £3000, but there's still more to be done.
When Osborne met with Jon Jon Briones, who recently played The Engineer in Miss Saigon, his own experience growing up in the slums of Manila touched her heart.
"I was born in one of the many slum areas of of Manila. Growing up, there was not much for us to do. No place to go after school that would keep us occupied and out of trouble, but I was one of the lucky ones, because I could sing. I was awarded a scholarship that allowed me to hone my vocal skills, meet musical directors and people who introduced me to musical theatre.
"The rest is history. What Katy is doing is so important. It doesn't even matter if these children want to go on to be in the theatre, it is about having a place to go and be carefree - where people care about them and for them to feel self worth and a sense of belonging. There are not enough places like this in The Philippines and most you have to pay a lot to go to. I've seen videos of Katy's kids performing and you can see the joy in their faces, they are hungry for this. Let's help Katy help these kids continue to grow.”
So far the shows taking part in the West End Fun Run include The Play That Goes Wrong, Mrs Henderson Presents, Les Miserables, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, The Book Of Mormon, Mamma Mia, Beautiful, The Phantom Of The Opera, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots and Wicked.
Osborne said, "I have never seen such an incredible transformation in a child through the art form of musical theatre. Some of these children went from not being able to make proper eye contact or speaking louder than a whisper, to desperately wanting to do solo singing auditions! The confidence and excitement they had about the possibilities performing gave them was overwhelming, I was moved every single day with their bravery and courage. I'm in awe and utterly proud of them. This needs to be part of their education. It's integral."
The 5k route will start at Pineapple Dance Studios and take participants past nearly thirty theatres. All runners will pay £5 to enter, contributing to the Tuloy fund, but you can also sponsor individuals by visiting www.tinyurl.com/WestEndFunRun.