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BWW Review: WEST END DOES THE MAGIC OF ANIMATION, Cadogan Hall

BWW Review: WEST END DOES THE MAGIC OF ANIMATION, Cadogan Hall

BWW Review: WEST END DOES THE MAGIC OF ANIMATION, Cadogan Hall

The Magic of Animation was a wonderful celebration of music from animated films and the debut concert for new company West End Does. They performed a lovely mix of both classic and newer Disney songs, from shows like Moana and Frozen, along with some tunes from other animated movies like Anastasia and The Prince of Egypt. And they managed to find the nine performers in the West End who seem like actual fairy tale princesses and princes.

The impressively star-studded concert featured Fra Fee, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Danielle Hope, Rob Houchen, Bradley Jaden, Eva Noblezada, Celinde Schoenmaker, Rachel Tucker, and Marisha Wallace. Alex Parker served as music director and conductor and, as always, it was a pleasure to see how much he seemed to enjoy the music.

Actor and television personality Christopher Biggins served as host for the evening, though he perhaps didn't have enough chances to provide commentary. At one point, he admitted that he'd not seen Moana and said that based on the music performed, he would need to go see it.

After a beautiful Disney overture, the show opened with a trio of songs from Pocahontas sung by Eva Noblezada, Celinde Schoenmaker, and Danielle Hope. "Colours of the Wind" feels particularly relevant right now and they sounded so wonderful, I actually got chills.

Schoenmaker also did a charming performance of "When Will My Life Begin" from Tangled, before being joined by Fra Fee to sing "I See the Light". Fee hilariously scooped her up and carried her offstage at the end of the number.

One of the best sections of the show was the Moana numbers. I was sceptical that anyone in the cast could pull off Maui's number, "You're Welcome", but Bradley Jaden was incredible. He had the audience clapping along and the energy in the room seemed to spike. There was also something hilarious about the line, "I know it's a lot: the hair, the bod" when sung by a guy with a man-bun.

Noblezada did a stirring rendition of "How Far I'll Go", showing off the vocals that got her a Tony nomination last year. She also sang "Reflection" from Mulan in a lovely version that seemed somewhere between Lea Salonga's original and the Christina Aguilera pop version.

A definite highlight was Rob Houchen and Carrie Hope Fletcher's duet of "Beauty and the Beast". Their voices blend together beautifully, just as they did back when they starred in Les Misérables together. Houchen also sang a wonderful rendition of "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin.

Other solo highlights included Fletcher singing Elton John's pop version "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King and Fee singing "Out There" from Hunchback of Notre Dame. If the musical of Hunchback ever comes to the West End, Fee would certainly make a fine Quasimodo.

Without a doubt, the best part of the show was the set of Hercules tunes. Hope did a lovely version of "I Won't Say I'm in Love" that utilised the chorus well, and Houchen sang "Go the Distance" with an earnestness that was touching.

Marisha Wallace brought the house down with "Zero to Hero", which was worth the ticket price alone. Even Parker was dancing onstage while conducting. It begs the question of why the show hasn't been adapted into a stage musical yet.

The problem with doing much-beloved Disney songs that the audience is familiar with is that it does make any lyric flubs obvious. There was also a bit of confusion around microphones, but that is to be expected with this type of concert. My only true complaint is that it felt like there should be a big closing number to end the show, drawing all the vocalists together.

Cadogan Hall as a venue is well suited to the soaring Disney music and the orchestra was wonderful, especially the flautist, who had some lovely solo snippets in several songs. The choir provided great back-up to many of the numbers and even sang a somewhat chilling version of "Once Upon a December".

The performers also sported some amazing outfits - from Houchen's plaid trousers and Wallace's stunning sparkly gown to Schoenmaker's dress that she made herself.

West End Does is a new organisation aimed at providing fun and exciting concerts in the West End. Houchen serves as one of its three directors and has said that he wants to provide events that are enjoyable for both actors and audience alike. The company has several more concerts in the works for later this year. They're also partnering with Make a Wish and had donation buckets at the end of the show to collect money.

West End Does certainly had a success with The Magic of Animation, which will hopefully be the first of many concerts. Wallace and Houchen's performances stood out as highlights of the night, but the whole cast brought some wonderful songs to life. From the beautiful dresses and talented performers to the gorgeous music, the night felt rather magical indeed.

Make sure to check out the interview that I did with Rob Houchen about this concert and the future of West End Does.

West End Does The Magic of Animation took place on 6 May.


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From This Author Nicole Ackman