Cheryl Baker and Frances Ruffelle have both had their shots representing the UK in the real Eurovision Song Contest and, last night (9 September 2008, previews from 4 September), they cheered on their fictional successors, Reyne & Sheiner with “I Love to Love to Love (Love)”, in the new musical spoof Eurobeat, which is at the West End’s Novello Theatre for a limited season until 15 November (See News, 13 May 2008).

(Just in case your Eurovision trivia isn’t up to scratch, let us remind you: Baker competed twice, with Co-Co in 1978 singing “The Bad Old Days”, finishing in 11th place, and winning as part of Bucks Fizz in 1981 with “Making Your Mind Up”; Ruffelle gained tenth place with “Lonely Symphony” in 1993.)

Hailed as the world’s first interactive musical, Eurobeat: Winning Is Everything assigns audience members to one of ten competing countries and, as with the real Eurovision, invites them to vote for their favourite contestants via text message, with a nightly winner announced at the end of the performance. There’s also a video introduction by Terry Wogan, and plenty of flag-waving, horn-blowing, clacker-slapping and cheering.

Set in Sarajevo, the show is hosted by the eccentric duo of children’s TV presenter Sergei (played by Les Dennis) and Boyka (Mel Giedroyc, of Mel & Sue), a former Olympic pole-vaulting champion, lifestyle programme hostess and cabaret performer.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF EUROBEAT\'s 1st NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE \"NEXT >\" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.
PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the curtain call and post-show party at the Eve Club (transformed into Club Sarajevo for the night), along with the company and other first night guests including Formula One driver Mark Webber, Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis, and comedians Roland Rivron and Norman Pace.

The show, written by Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson, premiered at last summer’s Edinburgh Fringe, where it won Best Musical Production in the inaugural Musical Theatre Awards (See News, 24 Aug 2007). It was inspired by songwriter Christie\'s ineligibility to write a song for the real contest, due to his Australian origin. The pre-West End tour launched this past April.

Eurobeat is directed and produced by Glynn Nicholas, designed by Richard Jeziorny and choreographed by Natalie K Marsland and Andrew Hallsworth, with lighting by Trudy Dalgleish and sound by Mike Walker. In addition to Dennis and Giedroyc, the company includes Sarah Boulton, Emma Brooke, Sarah Cahalarn, Emma Cannon, Adam Charles-Hills, Mairi Cowieson, Scott Garnham, Lewis Griffiths, Natahs Jayetileke, Arvid Larsen, Kay Murphy, Craig Perry, Sergio Priftis and Carl Stallwood.

- by Terri Paddock