Theatre discovery platform Thespie have followed up their brilliant Reunited series with two special concerts - the first of which is a celebration of LGBT+ in musical theatre to coincide with LGBT+ History Month.
Break Free consists of a cast of LGBTQ+ performers singing numbers that relate to their own stories. As well as singing, each performer has the opportunity to talk about their own personal journeys. This makes the concert a more intimate affair than you might be used to as it immediately allows you to connect with the artists on a personal level.
Highlights from the concert include Six Queens Aimie Atkinson and Millie O'Connell reuniting for an incredibly moving rendition of Little Mix's 'Secret Love Song' - a song that has become an anthem for LGBTQ+ in recent years. The pair talk about what the song means to them in what is a standout performance. Eleanor Kane reprises her role as Alison from the 2018 London production of Fun Home to sing 'Changing My Major' from the show while Shona White talks about her experiences of being LGBTQ+ in a different generation before delivering a powerful version of Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colors'.
LGBTQ+ Theatre shows were of course included, with Alex Thomas-Smith bringing extra significance to 'The Wall In My Head' from Everybody's Talking About Jamie, talking about things that had been said to him, while Layton Williams gave us a much needed lift with the inspirational 'Out Of The Darkness' from the same show. Allie Daniel gave a rousing performance of 'Hold Me In Your Heart' from KInky Boots while Paul Baker reprised his role from Taboo for a performance of 'Stranger in this world'. Real couple Charlotte Yorke and Natasha Agnew talk about what it is like to see lesbians as the main characters in a musical, rather than a background character before delving into a beautiful version of 'Dance With You' from The Prom.
A lot of thought had clearly gone into song choices. Inspirational numbers like 'This Is Me' and 'Gets Better' put across the messages of tolerance and acceptance, while Queen's classic 'I Want To Break Free' carries a lot more meaning than just lending itself to the shows title. The video to the original song actually caused a lot of damage to the band in America due to them dressing as women. Thankfully, attitudes like that are becoming increasingly outdated, and an appearance from Drag Queen La Voix cements how far we have come as a society.
The stories that were shared throughout the show added a lot more depth to the proceedings and ensured this concert was more than just the standard performers singing a few nice songs. Having a concert devoted to LGBTQ+ in theatre shows how far we have come in society, and seeing so many incredible LGBTQ+ performers was really inspiring to see.
As a gay man, I have seen firsthand the prejudices that exist in the world against LGBTQ+ people. While it feels like we are a more tolerant place than we were 20 years ago, there is still a long way to go. A certain story about a homophobic musical theatre actress I'm sure everybody is familiar with only solidifies why programming like this is so important. Concerts like this can only do good in the long run. With the candid words spoke by the performers about their journeys and experiences with "coming out", I hope it benefits a younger generation struggling with their own journeys. So thank you to Thespie for bringing this concert out as I'm sure it will do a lot of good in the world.
Break Free is a brilliant concert in its own right. If you were to simply have these performances from this group of talented individuals in a show, it would automatically be fantastic. However, add the personal touch of the stories from all of the performer into the equation and it elevates this to the next level to create something that was very special and empowering to watch, and an important
Break Free is available to stream on demand from thespie.com with proceeds going to LGBT+ charity Stonewall UK. On Friday 26th February they premiere their Road To Prominence concert which celebrates Black voices in musical theatre.