Last year after the first lockdown, performances were finally given the go ahead to recommence... but only outdoors. Creativity was pushed to new limits as people in the industry came up with new and untested ways to stage theatre in some shape of form - and thus, the drive in was born.
A series of outdoor concerts, West End Musical Drive In from the team that brought you West End Musical Brunch was created. No matter what the weather and what changing restrictions were going on, the drive ins were a constant source of joy for a good few months in 2020, and ensured theatre fans going through withdrawal could keep up their stagey fix.
There is now a chance to relive these concerts as five of them have been brought back to life online through stream.theatre. If you missed out on going, now is your chance to see some fantastic performances from the West Ends finest. If you were lucky enough to be there, you'll love the chance to relive these performances.
Episode 1 took place last August. Host, performer and co-producer Shanay Holmes is joined in this concert by Maiya Quansah-Breed, Shan Ako and Layton Williams for a celebration of all things theatre. A predominantly musical theatre heavy setlist sees those incredible talents give their own takes on some classics. Highlights include Shan Ako reprising her role as Eponine in Les Miserables for a beautiful 'On My Own' as well as her own interpretation of 'She Used To Be Mine' from Waitress.
Six Queen Maiya Quansah-Breed shows why she could be cast in Hamilton with a stunning 'Burn' and goes for a lesser known number from Pippin with her take on 'Simple joys'. Shanay Holmes puts her hat in the ring to replace Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act with a joyful 'Fabulous Baby' as well as a rousing 'This Is Me' from The Greatest Showman. Both Maiya and Shan take turns at songs from Tina Turner's catalogue - perhaps we are looking at a future star of Tina with one if not both of them?
The star of the show is Layton Williams who relishes in covering every inch of the stage with his undeniable presence. Joined by some cast members from Everybody's Talking About Jamie, he performs three numbers from the show, joined by his West End replacement Noah Thomas for a showstopping moment in show finale 'Out Of The Darkness'. He also revisits his incredible turn as Angel in RENT for two numbers from the show, and takes a peek into the potential future for a go at 'The Land of Lola' from Kinky Boots - a role he is surely destined to play in the not too distant future.
As the logistics of watching a show in your car meant sightlines may be difficult, the show was streamed live on big screens at the venue. The filming was never intended to be made into an online stream 6 months later, so the more crude elements of this production can be forgiven. When Shanay tells the audience not to lurch forward, I don't think she's talking to me in my living room. Perhaps elements like that could have been edited out? However, this is unedited and apologetically streamed "as live. It may seem strange when performers constantly tell you to honk your horns - perhaps it would be best to sit in your cat watching this to enjoy its full potential? If theatre is escapism, you can surely pretend you are in a drive in for this one.
The first West End Musical Drive In concert does a great job in recreating the atmosphere from last summer and immortalising a time when outdoor theatre was the only option (still a better option than we have right now). While not as slick as glamorous as other shows that were made deliberately for online streaming, the incredible talent and brilliant song choices make this a highly enjoyable show to watch and a much needed outlet for us all to relive the joy of the theatre.
Shanay Holmes - Fabulous Baby
Maiya Quansah-Breed - Burn
Shan Ako - On My Own
Layton Williams & Cast Of ETA Jamie - And You Don't Even Know It
Layton Williams - I'll Cover You
Layton Williams - The Wall In My Head
Shan Ako - She Used To Be Mine
Shan Ako - Braveheart (Original song)
Maiya Quansah-Breed - Simple Joys
Shanay Holmes - Seasons Of Love
Layton Williams - Today 4 U
Shanay Holmes - One Night Only
Layton Williams - ABC
Layton Williams - Run & Tell That
Maiya Quansah-Breed - Almost There
Shan Ako - The Best
Layton Williams - Land of Lola
Maiya Quansah-Breed - Proud Mary
Shan Ako - I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Shanay Holmes - This Is Me
Layton Williams & Noah Thomas - Out Of The Darkness
This instalment of West End Musical Drive In is streamed on https://stream.theatre on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st February at 7pm. A new concert from the series will stream there from Friday to Sunday every week for the next four weeks.