Take four leading Wet End men, waistcoats, tuxedos, one lady and a brilliant band and you have a great night at the theatre! I recently attended the show “West End Men” at the Vaudeville Theatre in London for a great sing-along night of musical hits and for a change…no storyline! The show has toured in the past and now comes into London for a limited engagement and the cast had just had a change when I saw the show as Glenn Carter of Jesus Christ Superstar fame (Broadway & West End) had left and Stephen Rahman-Hughes (Bombay Dreams/Bollywood Carmen) had joined the original line up of Olivier Award winning actor David Thaxton, Lee Mead from BBC talent show fame and Matt Willis from the band Busted (yes he has been on the West End!)
The show begins with Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and the men each take a turn in singing other musical hits which merge all the songs together in clever musical direction by Will Stuart. The concept feels a bit like “an audience with” as the men share jokes and all sing songs that made them famous (Year 3000 in Matt Willis’ case!)
The highlight for me in the section where the men’s hits were sung was the great opportunity of hearing Stephen Rahman-Hughes singing Journey Home from the short lived Bollywood themed musical Bombay Dreams, the last time I heard it sung live was at The Apollo Victoria Theatre in 2004 and it was just as stunning almost ten years on.
Each man has his strengths in the different songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber favourites like Memory and Music of the night to Seal’s Kiss from a rose and Coldplay’s fix you which Lee Mead sings with great emotion and you can see the song means a lot to him and really suits his style of singing. There isn’t really a script as it is more of a concert and the songs just keep flowing with great accompaniment by a fantastic band who all have major talent in the different instruments they play, with the flutist making the flute sing and the pianist touching the keys like velvet, each member of the band has huge talent and help make the show as well as the leading men.
In the second half the men start off with a West Side Story medley and after a few tracks “unplugged” the men are joined by a West End lady, when I saw the show it was the great Kerry Ellis (Wicked/Rent/Les Miserables) who sang a gorgeous rendition of Etta James’ At Last which then lead into Kerry’s famous West End song Defying Gravity from the hit musical Wicked which on the night I saw was one of the best versions I have ever heard Kerry sing.
After Kerry’s turn the stage is flooded with The West End men Choir (who are definitely future stars to look out for) with Anthem from Chess and then the whole cast are reunited for two Les Miserables numbers and the finale of Bohemian Rhapsody from We will rock you. The show seems over to quick and you leave the theatre singing your heart out after 2 hours of fun musical numbers and great stage presence from the men and the leading lady who switches things up.
West End men is a great concert and I would recommend you catch it as there are only a few performances left and the cast will be changed again with the new addition of Carley Stenson (Shrek/Legally Blonde) who becomes the leading lady when Kerry departs for a tour with Queen’s Brian May. If you like a concert themed show and the hits of the West End with the eye candy of 4 delicious leading men (and a beautiful lady) you will thoroughly enjoy your time with the West End Men.
West End Men is on till the 22nd June. Tickets are availiable at the Box Office or online.
The Vaudeville Theatre
London WC2R 0NH