West End Live in Leicester Square This WeekendDate: 19 June 2009
It’s almost time ... West End Live - the world’s largest free theatre festival, which is now in its fifth year - takes place this weekend in Leicester Square. With just hours to go until lift off, and with the sun shining and several exciting last-minute additions, it looks set to be a truly hot summer event.
Christopher Biggins is now confirmed to compere proceedings on the giant open-air stage. And joining the line-up of more than 15 other top London musicals taking part are: Too Close to the Sun, the new musical about Ernest Hemingway, premiering next month at the West End’s Comedy Theatre; Forbidden Broadway, which opens next week at the Menier Chocolate Factory; Che Walker’s Been So Long, just premiered at the Young Vic; and the Royal Albert Hall’s current spectacular revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I.
Other previously announced highlights include turns from talk-show host Jerry Springer, now making his West End debut as razzmatazz lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago, and the BBC’s I’d Do Anything winner-turned-Oliver! star Jodie Prenger.
They are sharing the stage with performers from Hairspray, La Cage aux Folles, Avenue Q, Dirty Dancing, Jersey Boys, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Sister Act, Thriller - Live, We Will Rock You, Wicked, Stomp and other productions, all cheered on by more than 150,000 visitors expected to attend the festivities.
The event is organised by Westminster City Council and supported by the Society of London Theatre, whose president Nica Burns said: “London has the best theatre in the world. No city can rival the breadth and variety of outstanding entertainment that can be enjoyed daily in London. West End Live gives everyone the chance to enjoy a weekend of fantastic free entertainment showcasing just some of our fabulous shows ... Beat the recession blues by joining us in celebrating the success of an industry we can all be proud of - and which contributes £1.8 billion to the capital’s economy whilst bringing untold pleasure to millions of people."
The two-day event also features street entertainment, live broadcasts, arts workshops and interactive exhibitions from some of London’s top museums and tourist attractions, and additional performances from So Jest End, the Players’ Theatre, the Sylvia Young Theatre School, London Gay Men’s Chorus, Tom Tom Crew and many others.
West End Live takes place in Leicester Square from 11am to 6pm on Saturday 20 June and from noon to 6pm on Sunday 21 June. For more information and a full schedule of the days’ performance, visit www.westendlive.co.uk.
The Whatsonstage.com team will be alive and kicking in Leicester Square on both days of the event. Look out for us and our 30-strong team of keen theatregoer volunteers helping to man the stand at the north-west corner of the Square and distribute flyers and magazines throughout. As part of our special West End Live promotions, we’ll be giving away over £5,000 worth of Radisson Edwardian hotel breaks and offering visitors a whopping 50% discount on annual membership to the Whatsonstage.com Theatre Club.