Review: West End Musical Drive-In (online)

Over the past year theatre has had to adapt to the ongoing pandemic, with many productions moving online or, for a brief time, playing to socially distanced audiences. And last summer the West End Musical Drive-In offered the opportunity for thousands of people to enjoy live performances from West End stars from the comfort of their cars. Luckily for those who missed out at the time, these concerts are now available to watch online, with a different concert available to stream each week until Sunday 21st March via Stream.Theatre.

The first in the series, hosted by co-producer Shanay Holmes,  features a stellar line-up with performances from Layton Williams, Shan Ako and Maiya Quansah Breed. During the one hour 45-minute show they take on a number of well-known songs from musicals including Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, The Bodyguard, Hamilton, Waitress and Rent. 

The first of its kind in the UK, West End Musical Drive-In provided a number of stars with their first chance to perform live during the pandemic and their enthusiasm is evident, their energy brightening up what appeared to be a typically British rainy day. The show is a great way to admire the sheer talent of the performers, and what a talent they are. The line-up of the first show is certainly impressive, kicking off the series in style, and with such great performances it’s impossible to choose a favourite. Shanay Holmes is a great host with bundles of enthusiasm, and performs some great numbers, including One Night Only from Dreamgirls, Fabulous Baby! from Sister Act and a rousing rendition of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman. 

Maiya Quansah-Breed never fails to impress and the former Six star certainly gives a memorable performance, first of all with her incredible rendition of Burn from Hamilton, and then later  with Proud Mary from Tina. She shakes things up a little bit later in the show with the inclusion of Almost There from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. 

Shan Ako, who recently played Éponine in Les Mis, also wows with her songs, first up a beautiful performance of She Used to be Mine from Waitress, and then The Best from Tina, the Tina Turner Musical. Taking a break from West End hits, she also performs the title song from her album Braveheart. 

Layton Williams proves just why he’s such a popular West End star, with an iconic performance (and incredibly outfit changes to match). He performs some hits from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, including And You Don’t Even Know It from, with help from fellow cast members; Wall In My Head; and Out of the Darkness with Noah Thomas, who also played Jamie. And he also impresses with songs from Rent, including I’ll Cover You and Today 4 U, and gets everyone dancing with a great cover of the Jackson 5’s ABC. 

What’s also great about West End Musical Drive-In is that even though you’re watching from home you can still savour the atmosphere, with shots of some audience members dancing by their cars (while of course socially distanced from neighbours) and others honking their car horns in appreciation in the absence of applause. It’s clear that both performers and audience members were having a great time and it’s easy to understand why. The show is a lot of fun and a reminder of why we love musical theatre, and it definitely leaves you wanting more. Featuring some amazing song choices and outstanding vocals and the live stream of West End Musical Drive-In is just what we need right now to lift our spirits until we can once again witness these performances in the flesh.

For more information visit https://www.westendmusicaldrivein.co.uk

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