This weekend should have seen the highlight in any West end lovers calendar - the annual West End Live in Trafalgar Square. Instead of queuing for hours to get in, the world is very different and we're queuing to get into Primark instead. There is still going to be a Virtual West End Live this weekend with two highlights show from the past five years.
In the meantime, I've gathered together 20 of the best performances from some classic shows from the past, alternating between shows that are "currently running" (well, not currently I guess but they should be back when theatres reopen) and 10 shows that are now firmly part of the West Ends history although some will be making a comeback with limited runs and UK tours. So press play and relax knowing you don't need to worry about those grey clouds looming right above you:
The Ex-Wives returned for their second West End Live in 2019. Enjoy this Megasix from some of the Queens who have now departed to different roles.
Who doesn't miss Kinky Boots in the West end? Especially after watching this joyous finale. While they were on at the Adelphi, they always sent some of their cast sashaying down the road to represent on the West end live stage.
EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE
Sometimes at West End Live, you are treated to musicals that haven't made it to London yet or are still in development. In 2017, the West End was treated to a sneak peek of future sensation Everybody's Talking About Jamie, ahead of its debut at the Apollo. It was clear even then that this show was going to be something special.
WE WILL ROCK YOU
So many shows that are no longer with us have been immortalised with performances at West End Live. Here is Brenda Edwards attacking 'Another one bites the dust' from We Will Rock You in 2011.
West End Live without Les Miserables is like Jean ValJean without a loaf of bread - better to go to prison than risk it. This medley from 2016 was my personal favourite. Experiencing 'One Day More' in Trafalgar Square will stay with me forever. And look at this amazing cast, including Eva Noblezada as Eponine.
What could be better than one Effie White? You guessed it, TWO Effie Whites. Both Karen Mav and Marisha Wallace got their chance in the spotlight to perform two of the standouts from the show, 'One Night Only' and 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going'. Anyone disappointed at the no show of Amber Riley that day were quickly silenced by the phenomenal talent they witnessed in front of them.
Wicked appear at West End Live every single year, so choosing a standout performance wasn't easy. In the end I went for this amazing performance from Emma Hatton in 2015. Giving new meaning to the lyric "If you care to find me, look to the Western sky" this was as close as it gets to defying gravity. The moment where the thousands of people in Trafalgar square, myself included, staring at an empty stage, realised she was performing at the top of a building next to the Square is one of my all time favourite theatre memories.
It may not have seemed the most obvious choice showcasing the other performers in the Carole King musical, but Beautiful never did anything by numbers. As well as the incredible Cassidy Janson giving one of the greatest vocals of the weekend, this performance featured a large number of the talented cast including Danielle Steers, before she moved on to Bat Out Of Hell and Six.
Anyone who was lucky enough to watch Adrienne Warren embody Tina Turner flawlessly before moving to reprise the role on Broadway knows just what a performer she is. In 2018 she treated Trafalgar Square to a few minutes of what makes her one of the best in the business.
At West End Live, you get to witness some of the greatest singers in this country tackle some of the greatest songs ever written. In 2016, Beverley Knight proved a massive highlight with her spine-tingling rendition of 'I Will Always Love You' from The Bodyguard. Say what you want about jukebox musicals but when they are responsible for something as legendary as this, they are worth their weight in gold.
COME FROM AWAY
In 2019, Come From Away made their West End Live debut with the storming intro from the show 'Welcome to the rock' before Rachel Tucker delivered one of the greatest musical theatre songs of the century with the amazing 'Me and the Sky'.
How much does everyone miss Heathers? No, seriously. How very... much? Carrie Hope Fletcher, Jodie Steele, Sophie Isaacs, T-Shan Williiams and Jamie Muscato to name just a few proved that Heathers had one of the talented casts in the West end when they killed it in this 2018 performance.
It might not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you are stuck like a sardine with thousands of others (pre pandemic days obviously) there's nothing to put a smile on your face like a medley of ABBA numbers from everybody's favourite love to hate musical. Also, this is the only time when it is acceptable for Karen in the audience to screech out the numbers like she's the one on stage. Remember to go back to miming when you're back in the theatre, Karen.
Before it moved to the bigger Trafalgar Square, West End Live was held in Leicester Square. This performance of 'Good Morning Baltimore' from Hairspray is from 2009.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Ben Forster and Celinde Schoenmaker did a medley of some of the best loved numbers from Phantom in 2011.
While West End Live gets bigger with each year, it's been going a lot longer than people realise - last year was its 15th. This performance from Chicago was back in 2011.
Another case of a new musical making waves at West End Live before its debut, last year &Juliet left the audience asking "Romeo Who?" before immediately buying tickets for its West end run.
HALF A SIXPENCE
One of my favourite West End Live moments came from the amazingly talented cast of Half A Sixpence, including Charlie Stemp, delivering one of the most joyful numbers in musical theatre 'Flash Bang Wallop', If you weren't grinning away watching this, there's a good chance you were dead.
Matilda always bring their A game to West End Live, highlighting the incredibly talented children in the cast. But the performance of theirs I've chosen was from last year and instead showcased the grown ups from the cast tackling their own version of 'When I Grow Up'.
Lucie Jones and David Hunter performing some of the best songs from the sadly now closed up Waitress at last years West End Live. It showed the power of the musical theatre fan that the entire audience knew the words to 'She Used To Be Mine'. In their defence they had probably heard it twenty times that weekend.
Don't forget to check out https://www.westendlive.co.uk/ for details of this weekends virtual shows where you'll see some other highlights from the past five years, and doubtlessly some of the ones posted here as well.
See you all at West End Live next year. I'm in the queue already.