Review: West End Musical Drive-In (5) (online)

Although it may be another month until UK’s biggest musical theatre concert series West End Musical Drive-In returns for live performances, fans have been enjoying last year’s popular concerts, which have been available to view on stream.theatre. 

The fifth and final instalment in the series has a particular eerie theme, with the show taking place on Halloween last year, and features a spooktacular line-up including host Shanay Holmes, Jon Robyns, Kelly Agbowu and headliner Lucie Jones. The artists (and some audience members) all got into the spirit of things by dressing up in costumes and performing a number of halloween hits, not to mention some well-known musical theatre numbers.

Host and co-founder of West End Musial Brunch Shanay Holmes gets the show off to a strong start with a rendition of I Put A Spell On You. Later in the show she returns to perform This Is Me, somewhat of an anthem now following its inclusion in The Greatest Showman; the brilliant Little Shop of Horrors from the musical of the same name; and One Night Only from Dreamgirls. 

Kelly Agbowu, who was in the original cast of Waitress the musical in the West End, and until lockdown was starring in Les Misérables, wows throughout with her incredible voice, not to mention her impressive Maleficent costume. She certainly makes an impression with her first performance, a rendition of Poor Unfortunate Souls from Little Mermaid; before she takes on the role of the most famous witch in the West End – Elphaba – to perform the chilling No Good Deed, proving just how talented she is. She later returns to her Waitress roots with the brilliant I Didn’t Plan It, before getting the audience in a party mood with I Wanna Dance With Somebody from The Bodyguard. 

Jon Robyns has had a hugely successful career and starred in some hit musicals, from Avenue Q and Spamalot to Legally Blonde and Hamilton. Before lockdown he was starring as Jean Valjean in Les Mis, and shows off his incredible voice with performances of Bring Him Home, Memphis Lives In Me from Memphis and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, complete with some impressive air guitar playing from the enthusiastic crowd. He also entertains with his performance of You’ll Be Back from Hamilton, which is sure to be in your head long after the concert has finished; and reunites with former Legally Blonde co-star Lucie Jones to sing Legally Blonde and Bad Idea from Waitress. 

All performers are brilliant, with some great performances, but Lucie Jones wows the crowd with her fantastic vocals. She makes a powerful entrance with her rendition of Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl, dressed as a waitress who’s been in an unfortunate accident; and goes on to sing Pulled from the Addams Family, Dead Mom from Beetlejuice, The Wizard and I from Wicked and Into The Unknown from Frozen 2. She also performs What Baking Can Do and the incredible She Used To Be Mine from Waitress, all the more poignant given that theatres closed just as she was due to return to the role of Jenna in the West End. It’s one of the highlights from the show, along with Lucie’s scorching duet of Take Me Or Leave Me with Shanay Holmes. It’s clear that Lucie, along with all of the acts, is having a ball on stage, and likewise the crowd are having a great time singing and dancing along. 

All of the West End Musical Drive-In concerts are a joy to watch, but this particular show, with its strong line-up, great song choices and powerful performances, not to mention the enthusiasm of the performers and audience members, is one of the strongest out of the five. While the past year has been incredibly hard for the theatre industry, West End Musical Drive-In is something positive to have been come out of the lockdown and is essential viewing. The perfect tonic for these strange times, this concert proves just how uplifting musical theatre can be, and is a great way to watch some of your favourite musical theatre stars perform some classic hits. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

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