Palace Theatre, London – until 13 June 2021 ★★★★★
As two pioneers in making theatre accessible, diverse and welcoming, Shanay Holmes and Chris Steward have continually pushed through all of the setbacks of the last year to provide high quality, delightful entertainment. Most recently through their West End Musical Drive In shows and now through their West End Musical Celebration which is a full, flamboyant and fabulous celebration of, and return to theatre.
As hostess with the mostess, Holmes took us through the night with grace and passion. Like all the performers, it was really evident just how much theatre and the theatrical community means to her and the love throughout the auditorium was frenetic.
Joining Holmes is some of the West End’s best: Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Ben Forster, Rachel John, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Layton Williams. It’s unfair to pick favourite moments when every performance is a complete treat and the song selection i ouststanding. ‘From Defying Gravity’, to a bluesy version of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ and a sweetly sentimental rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, there is something for absolutely everyone. If that isn’t enough, the pre-show/interval playlist is also a stagey delight.
As well as this, the night features a fantastic band, wonderful backing singers and excellently sleek dancers. Several standing ovations and plenty of chair dancing highlighted that the audience were completely on the performers’ side and were just as much a part of the show as those on stage, albeit with considerably vocal ability. Overall the whole evening felt like a high quality, well-oiled, musical theatre sensation.
Alongside the mile a minute song selection, the night also includes the sparkling wardrobe of dreams. The sheer glitz, glam and spectacle of the whole night’s proceedings felt so special to be a part of.
The night closed with a series of high octane numbers, including Don’t Stop Believing, How Will I Know and One Night Only, which had everyone on their feet and proved that we really can have a good time, even under covid restrictions.
As the final chorus of The Greatest Showman’s From Now On rang out “and we will come back home”, I was reminded that the theatre really is home and if last night’s concert is what it’s like then never want to leave.
West End Musical Celebration runs at the Palace Theatre until Sunday 13th June 2021
Photos by Bonnie Britain