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Review: West End Musical Halloween (Lyric Theatre)

Review by Daz Gale


It’s been a while since West End Musical… took over the Lyric Theatre for one of their occasional concerts. 8 long months since they treated us to an evening of Love Songs for Valentines Day and barely a week after the successful launch of the inaugural West End Musical Con, they returned to the Lyric for a spooktacular celebration of all things musical theatre and Halloween. But was it more trick or treat?



West End Musical… concerts are like no other in the sense that they encourage audience participation. Inspired by their regular West End Musical Brunch series, this takes that event in a packed West End theatre with the same vibe intended. If you want to get up, stand up (it is in that theatre after all), sing and dance, you are not only welcome to but actively encouraged. Though the audience did take some coaxing with a warning before the interval to prepare to lose all inhibitions in the second act. Thankfully, the audience eventually got into the spirit of things.


Co-produced and compèred by Shanay Holmes, who is no stranger to the Lyric Theatre having starred in not one but two huge West End shows there (more on one of them later), she treated us to her own inimitable vocals with performances of songs from Hocus Pocus (let’s disregard that’s a movie as it’s still musical technically) and a truly sensational rendition of ‘Last Midnight’ from Into The Woods. Shanay also held things together expertly, having as much fun as the audience and effortlessly talking to each of the near 1000 strong audience as if they were personal friends. It’s this kind of charm and friendliness that makes these West End Musical vibes so irresistible.



As expected with these concerts, some of the greatest talents the West End has to offer were on hand to tackle some Halloween themed musical numbers… as tenuous as the links may have been (Hey, it’s all a bit of fun) and this lineup was especially scarily good.


Star of SIx and Heathers Sophie Isaacs thrilled with a versatile choice of numbers from The Addams Family, Beetlejuice and The Rocky Horror Show all delivered beautifully, with her ‘Dead Mom’ a particular vocal highlight of the evening.



Luke Bayer managed to make the Backstreet Boys and Frozen Halloween themed with brilliant takes on ‘Everybody’ and a particularly rousing ‘Monster’ both showcasing his beautiful vocals but it was his ‘Sweet Transvestite’ that truly brought the house down, despite a front row who were reluctant to fill in on the other parts of the song with him.



Tosh Wanogho-Maud got to show another audience the wonders of his own remarkable voice with spectacular turns on ‘Feed Me’ and ‘I Need To Know’. There really is no limit to his talent as proved with the most unexpectedly soulful and stunning version of ‘Ghostbusters’ I’ve ever heard. Just being in the presence of his talent always leaves me astonished and is further proof that he really can sing anything.



The fabulous Courtney Bowman got to revisit her former role of Anne Boleyn in Six recreating the iconic ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ in an undoubted standout of the evening as well as showing off a stunning voice on ‘Good ‘N’ Evil’.


Relative late addition to the lineup Matt Jeans effortlessly delivered some of the most iconic numbers of the night including ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ and ‘This Is The Moment’. An extra element to this evening saw violinist Sally Potterton accompany performers on several of the numbers as well as performing two solos herself, giving the night a hauntingly beautiful affair and leaving a sensational sound emanating from the stage.



A group of dancers also brought some of the bigger numbers to life… well, zombie life in the case of the final number. There was only one song to close the show (before the encore) and that had to be the Halloween classic that is ‘Thriller’. For this number, Shanay revisited her time in the show to deliver a ghoulishly good performance – and yes, she did the dance moves. And as is the tradition of West End Musical Brunch, the audience were invited to get on their feet to join in with the Time Warp. The sight of 1000 people doing that across multiple levels isn’t something you see everyday!


With these concerts and everything they do under the West End Musical… branding, producers Shanay Holmes and her husband Chris Steward aim to create more inclusive, diverse and accessible ways to celebrate musical theatre. It’s hard not to be won over by how admirable that is – for this night, just like their other concerts I have been to, everybody took great joy in celebrating it all with them.



There is something about these West End Musical concerts that always put a huge smile on my face, and this Halloween one was no exception. An expert group of West End performers tackling numbers they wouldn’t usually perform (or revisiting an iconic number they don’t get to perform anymore) means this is always a feelgood and truly fun night. Definitely a huge treat on a miserable Monday, this night will haunt my memories forever.


★★★★


Setlist:


Sally Potterton – Come Little Children (Hocus Pocus) (Violin solo)

Shanay Holmes – I Put A Spell On You (Hocus Pocus)

Courtney Bowman – Good ‘N’ Evil (Jekyll & Hyde)

Matt Jeans – The Phantom Of The Opera (The Phantom Of The Opera) (with Sally Potterton)

Sophie Isaacs – Pulled (The Addams Family)

Tosh Wanogho-Maud – I Need To Know (Jekyll & Hyde)

Matt Jeans & Shanay Holmes – Suddenly Seymour (Little Shop Of Horrors)

Matt Jeans – This Is The Moment (Jekyll & Hyde)

Courtney Bowman – Don’t Lose Your Head (Six)

Luke Bayer – Monster (Frozen)

Sophie Isaacs – Dead Mom (Beetlejuice)

Shanay Holmes – Last Midnight (Into The Woods)

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Sally Potterton – The Exorcist Theme (Violin solo)

Shanay Holmes – Little Shop Of Horrors (Little Shop Of Horrors)

Sophie Isaacs – Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me (Rocky Horror Show)

Luke Bayer – Sweet Transvestite (Rocky Horror Show)

Tosh Wanogho-Maud – Feed Me (Little Shop Of Horrors)

Matt Jeans – Bat Out Of Hell (Bat Out Of Hell)

Matt Jeans, Shanay Holmes & Sophie Isaacs – Time Warp (Rocky Horror Show)

Luke Bayer – Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) (&Juliet)

Tosh Wanogho-Maud – Ghostbusters (Ghostbusters)

Shanay Holmes – Thriller (Thriller)

Shanay, Matt, Luke, Tosh & Sophie – Jump In The Line (Shake Senora) (Beetlejuice)


West End Musical... will be back at the Lyric theatre for a Christmas concert on December 19th. Tickets from https://nimaxtheatres.com/shows/west-end-musical-christmas-lyric


You can also check out their famous West End Musical Brunch at https://www.westendmusicalbrunch.co.uk/


Photos by Bonnie Britain

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