London theatre is celebrating following the triumphant West End LIVE 2017, which saw hundreds of thousands flock to Trafalgar Square, a testament to the enduring appeal and resilience of theatre. Now in its 13th year, the event has grown to become one of Europe’s largest free performing arts festivals. The event is organised by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre with support from the Mayor of London.
The weekend showcased more than 116 different songs over 58 performances, which spanned musicals, cabaret, opera and dance, and featured over 840 performers. Special guests included Dan Gillespie Sells, Ricky Wilson, Kerry Ellis, Matt Cardle, Willemijn Verkaik, Rachel Tucker, Ben Forster, Marisha Wallace, Nathan Amzi, Charlie Fink and John Owen-Jones. Presenters included Heart FM hosts, Claire Sweeney and Jason Manford. The line-up this year also saw a host of new productions making their West End LIVE debuts including Disney’s Aladdin, Dreamgirls, Annie, The Wind In The Willows, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical and School Of Rock – The Musical.
TKTS, the ticket booth run by SOLT, saw sales increase 41% on West End LIVE 2016. On social media #WestEndLIVE trended across the UK reaching 19.6 million users on Twitter and 2.1 million on Facebook. Videos of this year’s performances have already been viewed over 1 million times on Facebook.
For the first time ever, West End LIVE was BSL interpreted. The sign language interpretation was provided by Andy Higgins and Jack Flavell for Vee Limited.
Building on the success of West End LIVE 2017 and its annual promotion Kids Week, which offers free kids tickets to top West End shows during the month of August and has already issued 130,000 tickets this year, SOLT is once again bringing the industry together to launch the “Theatre Is” campaign which celebrates theatre’s unique power to inspire and unite and encourages people to see a show. The pan-industry campaign will be supported by Facebook, Twitter and Exterion Media.
Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre, said:
“We are so proud of the West End community and the spectacular performances they gave at West End LIVE 2017. This weekend’s event was a celebration of the best of London, its creativity, unity and unbeatable spirit. Our new ‘Theatre Is’ Campaign once again brings the theatre community together to remind people that London’s theatres are open to all and to build on the success and momentum of West End LIVE and Kids Week.”
On the back of West End Live’s success, SOLT have launched a new campaign for this summer’s theatre season.