Monday, 29 September 2014

REVIEW: West End Heroes at the Dominion Theatre

This year was the second annual West End Heroes charity show at the Dominion Theatre. Dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Help For Heroes, last year’s show raised £88,000, so this year, the stars flocked to take part in this wonderful showcase. West End Heroes was a night of patriotic fundraising and exquisite performances, dedicated to our heroes. 

Made up of members from behind the scenes and front of house teams from across London’s theatre, the 44 piece ‘West End Heroes Choir’ made their debut. They accompanied several of the acts throughout the night and they were fabulous. You could feel their enthusiasm from the audience as their beaming smiles shone across the stalls. The pieces were all arranged so beautifully, particularly highlighting the sheer strength in the soprano section, and it was a fabulous addition which added class and polish to the evening. 

The evening was hosted by theatre legend Michael Ball, who needs no introduction. He was a fantastic host! He kept the evening light-hearted with small bursts of his heart-warming attempts of stand-up comedy including a fabulous impression of Pavarotti singing “Memory” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats”… (I’ll let you imagine that one for yourselves!) As you would expect, he concluded the night with “Love Changes Everything” but not before making everyone cry with his version of “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables”. He was as brilliant as one could have hoped for and he gave the night character and spirit.

Louise Dearman was the first soloist of the night and her performance of “Back To Before” from Ragtime was simply outstanding. So effortless and passionate in her singing; the audience were totally silent in awe of her incredible voice. It was a pleasure to watch and I could have listened to two hours of her on her own!
Shortly after Louise Dearman, we were introduced to Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro. They treated the audience to their version of “Bring Him Home” from ‘Les Miserables’, as featured on their debut Number 1 Album, “Stars”. While the vocals were near faultless, and they looked as gorgeous as ever, I was disappointed that there didn’t seem to be much emotional drive behind their voices. It was a performance which hit all the right notes, but was missing substance. 

I couldn’t help but feel terribly sorry for Flight Lieutenant Matthew Little (who covered for ‘no show’ Aled Jones) and Wendi Peters who were required to sing Christmas songs…at the end of September… Oh, deary me… Wendi Peters was great in her performance and looked gorgeous in a floor length sequined frock, but I would have much rather heard her sing something else. “White Christmas” comes to the West End this Winter, and I think it will be an excellent holiday treat, but it wasn’t right for this particular occasion!

Evita has received fantastic reviews, and so I was surprised when Marti Pellow came on stage and delivered a somewhat anti-climactic performance of “I Won’t Send Roses”. His co-star Michelle Pentecost however was astoundingly powerful and charismatic on stage. She led the ensemble for a performance of “Buenos Aires” and it was a fast-paced and full of energy. It was an excellent showcase for Evita. 

At the Entr’act, we were treated to a Mary Poppins medley which was superbly played by The Central Band Of The Royal Air Force. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I could hear the whole audience behind me quietly singing along to “Feed The Birds”; it was a real heart-warming moment. This performance was followed by The West End Heroes Dancers performing ‘Step In Time’, again from Mary Poppins. It was mesmerising! Fantastic choreography from Matt Flint, and a special effect as sponsored by ‘Flying By Foy’ left the whole audience gasping for breath as a lead dancer, Freddie Huddlestone, tap danced ON THE CEILING! It was a fantastic performance to remember from the entire troupe. 

Returning back to singers now… I have heard a lot in recent months about Carrie Hope Fletcher but have never seen her live before. During her performance of ‘On My Own’, I was quite simply blown away. Phenomenal vocals and effortless charm which carried through her performance making her the best Eponine I have ever had the pleasure of hearing, even if it was ‘only’ in a concert setting. 

Flight Lieutenant Matthew Little is one of the armed forces most famous voices. He has toured the world in uniform to represent the ex-servicemen of the armed forces with his voice. He performed several times throughout the night, but his winning performance was “If I Can’t Love Her” from ‘Beauty and the Beast’. The deep felt agony in this song was coursing through his voice and it delivered such a fantastic performance. He encapsulated all the reasons we should be proud of our armed servicemen. 

It is without a doubt that the outstanding performance of the night was Hugh Maynard. He led the cast of Miss Saigon singing “Bui Doi” and there was not a dry eye in the house. Delivered with such conviction and passion, the lyrics found new meaning to all the friends and family of soldiers who were lost fighting for their country:

“They are the living reminders
Of all the good we failed to do
That's why we know
Deep in our hearts
That they are all
Our children too.”

The song was a perfect selection for the evening and it was as inspiring as it was tragic. 

Overall, the evening was an overwhelming success. It was a little rough round the edges, but with such little rehearsal time, I’m not at all surprised. Every performer was brilliant in their own way. My greatest thanks go to the cast of Miss Saigon, Flight Lieutenant Matthew Little, and Michael Ball for making the night what it was. An astounding success which I wouldn’t hesitate to book a seat for again next year’s gala. 

The whole evening was designed to raise awareness and funds for Help For Heroes. Help for Heroes offers comprehensive support to those who have suffered life-changing injuries and illnesses whilst serving our country. This is provided through grants to individuals, other Service charities, capital build projects and four Personnel Recovery Centres across the UK. The money raised by the hugely generous public has been used to support our wounded, but there is still so much more to do. Soldiers, sailors and airmen who are injured today will still need our support tomorrow and in the days that follow, for the rest of their lives. They are still battling and we won’t let them battle alone.Please support this fantastic cause by donating at

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★★

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