Last night a small but enthusiastic group of WhatsOnStage theatregoers made their way to the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand for one of the final performances of The West End Men. A concert performance made up of songs from favourite West End musicals it's carried by four very talented and equally handsome musical theatre stars, who work together in complex harmonies or perform alone, in this two hour ode not only to the music of the West End but the men that perform it.
At the post-show Q&A the producers spoke to us at length about how they choose the men. It's not so much about sending out a casting call they told us, but about wanting to create, in one show, a prism through which to see all the faces of West End Man. Is he a powerful baritone or a cheeky chap, do his doe-eyes pull at your heart-strings or is it his poise that gets you?
In this Concert we've got all four before us bringing their own brand of charm to the stage. There's the curly-haired Lee Mead, who first came to fame through ITV's search for a Joseph in Any Dream Will Do; the dapper Matt Willis, who started in musical theatre but went on to become part of pop group Busted; cheerful yet commanding Olivier-Award winning David Thaxton; and, in The Men's own words, "Bollywood's answer to Arlene Philips", the multi-talented Stephen Rahman-Hughes.
A stripped-back show which focuses on the music the first big nod should go to Will Stuart the musical director who creates the musical arrangements. Particular highlights of his skilled ear for harmony were "Some Enchanted Evening"; "Kiss From a Rose" and "One More Day". And while the men in harmony are impressive and their "Unplugged" banter raises a good round of applause from the audience, their solo performances bring real heart to the piece.
A production which is developed for and with the men it stars, ensures that the songs they perform mean something to them and this in turn translates to the audience. Lee Mead's "Close Every Door to Me" followed closely by Matt Willis' "Year 3000" made for a balanced evening of easy-listening delights.
It's not however all about the boys and last night Carley Stenson represented the ladies with a delightful performance proving that the West End Ladies can hold their own against the Men. Indeed, at the post-show Q&A we learnt that a night for the Ladies might not be too far off. The Q&A also gave the theatregoers a chance to ask Carley how she calms her nerves, especially after only 3 rehearsals and on her first night!
We hope that everyone who joined us last night enjoyed the show as much as we did. Do let us know your comments by emailing [email protected] What was your highlight from the night?