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Galas: TheatreMAD’s West End Eurovision & Joys

Ahead of the real, 53rd annual Eurovision Song Contest in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on 24 May, the companies of Avenue Q, Wicked, Mamma Mia!, Buddy, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Grease will compete against each other in the first-ever West End Eurovision, held at 11.30pm next Thursday 15 May 2008 at the Piccadilly Theatre in aid of new AIDS support charity TheatreMAD.

They will sing past Eurovision songs while trying to win the support of both a celebrity judging panel – including David Ian, Cheryl Baker, Sally Anne Triplett and Frances Ruffelle – and the paying public audience, who will vote via text message. The evening will also feature a special guest appearance by Scooch, performing their 2007 Eurovision entry “Flying the Flag (For You)”.

First broadcast on 24 May 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest-running television shows in the world. The UK first won the competition in 1967 with Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet on a String” and then again two years later with Lulu’s “Boom Bang-a-bang”. Other UK winners include “Brotherhood of Man” in 1976 and Bucks Fizz with “Making Your Mind Up” in 1981. Katrina and the Waves were the last UK winners in 1997. This year the UK is represented by Andy Abraham.

Newly founded by the group of volunteers who, for the last 18 years, have organised cabaret and other fundraising events for Theatrecares and Crusaid, TheatreMAD is a committed response from the British theatre community and its audiences to raise money and awareness to help people affected by HIV, AIDS and other critical illnesses. TheatreMAD also aims to ensure that those who fundraise for us – namely, the theatre community – are supported by establishing a fund to relieve suffering and hardship for those working in the theatre industry and living with HIV, AIDS and other critical illnesses.

David Pendlebury, chairman of TheatreMAD, commented that: “Eurovision is such a camp and fun event, so it’s perfectly suited to a late night West End show and we are grateful to all at the Piccadilly Theatre – and to all our talented performers and guests – for helping us to make it happen. It has the potential to raise such a lot of money for the projects we support. We are thrilled to present West End Eurovision as the first event under our new name, TheatreMAD!”

Tickets range from £15 to £25, with premium tickets – including pre-show champagne – available at £40. Bookings are via the Piccadilly Theatre box office on 0870 060 6630.

Ahead of Eurovision, the Players’ Music Hall Company will return for one night only this Sunday 11 May 2008 to the West End’s Duchess Theatre after nearly 20 years with Joys, a gala evening of classic British music hall, including community singing, eccentric characters, broad comedy and plenty of audience participation. The evening is directed by Michael Kirk and Geoffrey Braun. Tickets cost £25 and can be booked on 0844 412 4659.

In other concert news, after flying into town to appear in next week’s highly anticipated Royal Albert Hall staging of Chess with Josh Groban (See News, 11 Jan 2008), Broadway’s Idina Menzel – who won Best Actress in a Musical in the Tony and Whatsonstage.com Awards for Wicked - will perform an intimate solo concert on Tuesday 20 May 2008 at the West End’s Ambassadors Theatre. Menzel has just released her debut album, I Stand, with Warner Bros. We understand the evening at the 450-seater sold out within half-an-hour.

- by Terri Paddock


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